(click on images for larger view)
1. The first 2 steps are very fast and fun! They are laid in with thin paint. It is thick enough for good coverage, and worked one section at a time. Starting at the top, use lots of white, some ultramarine blue, and a touch of phthalocyanine blue. Add some water to make the paint workable. The top of the sky is darker. Leave the land unpainted for now. The water is the same as the sky, just less white.
2.Make your horizon line above or below half way for a stronger composition.Use dark blues, greens, reds,and/or purple instead of black, for the dark section. I used dioxizine purple and green deep permanent. then use some bright greens by adding cadmium yellow medium or a touch of orange. The trees are laid in with burnt umber and white with a touch of Orange. some ultramarine blue and white are added for grayish reflected light on the off side of the light source. Always choose one side or the other for a strong light source, as this will make your job easier!
Step 3. I went back and added clouds with thick paint. This is optional. I changed the bent palms reflection, and added clouds in the water. Some foliage is also added to the trees and reflections. Remember that water is like a mirror, it is not the same as shadows. everything in the water pulls straight down, shadows can lay to the side. I could have left the painting like this. Just touch up a few spots and call it done. I like the strong contrast here.
Step 4. I decided to push the land back into the distance, so I added highlights and lost some of the strong shadows, which I may put back in later. Everything gets highlights and thick paint. Again I work one section at a time to get that wet in wet look.
Once again I could be finished here, but I want to show you that you can keep it simple or add more to it. I really lay in the water thick: I love lots of brush strokes and movement.
The great blue heron is added after I sketch a few from reference pictures. These birds can appear a grayish blue, or brownish or even very white with gray markings. be sure to find something with the colors that go with your painting, and keep the light source coming from the correct side. it should be consistent on everything in your painting!
Step 5. I added some vines to the bent palm tree, and the foliage in front of the heron last. Don't forget to sign your name small and with a color that goes with your painting. You do not want to have it take away from the art work. Put all information that is important to you on the back! (Your full name, the date, the title, etc . . .)
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PS: I use Liquitex professional paints, they are thick, and they have strong colors and good coverage. You can use any brand that you like.
Remember you can move trees around, change colors or add more birds in your painting.
If you try one like this, I would love to see it! or if you have a question feel free to ask . . .