Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Logs and Landscapes

Avent Cabin
Elkmont - Great Smoky Mountains National Park
Watercolor painting by
Karen A. Cooke

In addition to painting, I enjoy hiking and since I live close to the Smoky Mountains, I do quite a bit of hiking in that area.  I love to take photos of the cabins to paint later;  or if time permits, I like to paint on location.  The painting above was painted from a photo I took in late February on a rare warm day.  The trees were still bare, but the sky was clear and blue. 

History of the cabin above:
From the 1920s to the 1940s, Avent Cabin served as a vacation retreat and art studio for Mayna Teanor Avent. She spent summers in this cabin and painted watercolors of the Smoky Mountain landscape.  The large window was added to let in natural light for Mayna's studio.

Would I love to have a cabin studio like this one! 

Today's blog will give directions on painting this landscape with emphasis on painting a log structure. 

Supplies Needed:

Watercolor paper (type and size of your choice)  - I used a 9" x 12" piece
Masking Tape
Watercolor board
Brushes: flat, liner and round (size of your choice based on the size of your paper)
  • Cobalt Blue
  • Sepia
  • Payne's Gray
  • Cadmium Orange
  • Yellow Ocher
  • Sap Green
  • Hooker Green Deep
  • Burnt Umber
  • Vandyke Brown

Painting Instructions:
Lightly sketch this painting on your paper.  I sketched this drawing on my watercolor paper. However, if you feel you may need to erase multiple times, you may want to drawn on a piece of sketch paper and transfer your completed sketch to the watercolor paper. I discuss how this can be accomplished in my blog of May 11, 2016.

As a reminder: Multiple erasures can damage watercolor paper and cause pooling of water as well as differences in the way the paint is absorbed into or on the paper. Deep sketch marks will show up in a finished painting, even if they are erased. Correct perspective is an important part of this painting. Confirm that you like the perspective that you have executed in your sketch before you start painting. A poorly executed sketch done in a hurry cannot be overcome no matter how great a job one does with the paint.

Masking the trees:
For ease in painting the sky, the lighter trees can be masked in using masking fluid.  Do not move forward to painting the sky until the masking fluid is dry. 

Use a large round brush to paint the sky area.  Wet the sky from the top down to the horizon using clean water. Using a pale wash of Cadmium Orange drop in some color in various locations in the sky.  See above photo for location.  While this is still wet, paint in a wash of the Cobalt Blue, apply the paint working from the top of the painting down to the horizon .  However, do not completely cover the entire sky area.  Allow some white areas to remain.  Using a tissue or paper towel, lift some of the paint to create lighter areas in the sky for clouds, if needed.  While the sky is still wet, drop in a pale green made from the Cobalt Blue and Cadmium Orange at the horizon for the shrubs.  Allow to dry.  

Using a wash of light Payne's Gray, Sepia, Burnt Umber and Vandyke Brown, painting wet on wet, fill in the logs of the cabin.  Deepen in areas of shadows.  Allow the chinking between the logs to remain unpainted.  Refer to the photo above for the location of the light and dark areas.  Allow to dry.  When dry, use a dry brush and darker shades of your paint, paint in the details on your logs.    A liner brush was used to add detail to the logs as well as the boards on the porch rains, roof, etc.  Again, refer to the photo above for paint color and placement.  Allow to dry.

Windows/Doors:  Using Payne's Gray, paint in the windows and doors.  Allow to dry.  Use a utility knife to scrape off a line in the paint to indicate the panes of the windows. 

Cabin Rock Foundation:  Using Payne's Gray, Burnt Umber and Sap Green (very weak washes of all of these colors), painting wet on wet, drop in these colors and allow them to blend and merge.  Allow to dry.  Using a liner brush and Sepia, outline the shape of the rocks.  Allow to dry.

Remove the masking fluid.  The hardwood trees are painted in the following manner:
  • Wet the truck with a clean wash of plain water.
  • Using a wash of Sepia and Payne's Gray and using a round brush, paint along one side of the truck and allow the water to pull the paint across the truck. 
  • Deepen the color in various location on the truck especially where a limb intersects.  Allow to dry. 
  • Using a round brush and Sepia, paint in the small branches. 
Evergreen tree:
  • Using a wash of Sap Green and a round brush start at the top of the tree and brush in the branches referring to the photo above.  Deepen the color in various locations especially near the truck by adding cobalt Blue to the Sap Green to deepen the color.  Allow to dry.  Using Sepia, paint in the truck.  Be certain to skip a few spaces to indicate the branches growing across the truck.  Allow to dry. 


Using a pale wash of Sap Green, Payne's Gray and Burnt Umber, lay in the foreground.  Use deeper shades near the tree line and under the cabin.  Refer to the photo for placement.  The lighter area in the center running down from the cabin is a footpath which is painted using Payne's Gray.  Allow to dry.  Cover the cabin, trees and sky area with a piece of paper or a paper towel, and spatter the foreground with Burnt Umber. 

Finishing touches:
Review your painting and add any shadows that may be needed for depth.  Check the cabin and trees for any details you would like to add.


Happy Painting!
Karen Cooke

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