Karen A. Cooke
Some of my favorite painting subjects are landscapes from the mountains; either scenes with cabins or barns or simply the mountains themselves. The painting above is an acrylic painted from a photo I snapped from one of the many overlooks in the park. Before I start with my painting instructions, below is a little information regarding the park.
The Great Smoky Mountains are a mountain range rising along the Tennessee–North Carolina border in the southeastern United States. They are a range of the Appalachian Mountains; this range is sometimes called the Smoky Mountains. The name is commonly shortened to the “Smokies.” The Smokies are best known as the home of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, which protects most of the range. The park was established in 1934; and with over 9 million visits per year, it is the most-visited national park in the United States.
The name "Smoky" comes from the natural fog that often hangs over the mountains and presents as large smoke plumes from a distance. This fog is caused by the vegetation exhaling volatile organic compounds, chemicals that have a high vapor pressure and easily form vapors at normal temperature and pressure.
The “smoke” or “mountain magic” as I call it is shown in my painting above. Depending on the weather and time of day, the tallest mountains can be mostly hidden in the fog. When painting on location in the Smokies, I have seen puffs of this smoke rising from various areas in the part.
Let’s get started with our painting!
Materials required:Canvas panel, I used a 6” x 12” stretched canvas
Paint brushes: flat brush, round brush and liner brush for details (sizes of your choice)
Painting Instructions:Lightly sketch in the horizon, the basic shapes of the mountain peaks and the rocky section of the foreground. Do not make your sketch detailed and do not sketch in the trees.
Painting the Sky:
Using Cerulean Blue and white and a flat brush paint the sky lightening the sky as it touches the tops of the mountains. Add clouds with a palette knife scattered across the sky.
Painting the Mountains:
Add Ultramarine Blue and Crimson to the Cerulean Blue and White used for the sky to paint the mountains. Note that the mountains farther away will be lighter than the ones in the foreground. Deepen the color of the paint used as you move forward. Add Sap Green to the shade for the foreground mountains. Deepen the color to paint shadows and valleys.
Painting the trees:
Using the edge of a flat brush paint in the shapes of the trees with a mix of Sap Green and Ultramarine Blue. Vary the tree heights and allow the background color to show through the branches. Make the trees further away darker. Using Yellow Ocher and Sap Green add highlights to some of the tree branches. Deepen the area at the bottom of the trees.
Using a mix of Payne’s Gray, Burnt Umber and White, paint the foreground. Vary the intensity and color to add shape and shadows. Refer to the photo above.
Painting the Foreground Scrub:Using a round brush, dab in the shrub. Allow the foreground to show through. Add Yellow Ochre highlights. Using the liner brush and brunt umber, add branches to the shrub.
Painting the Mist:
Using a mix of mostly white with a touch of Payne’s Gray and a palette knife, add the mist in various spots on the mountains.
Review your painting for any details you would like to add. Allow to dry and sign your painting!