Painting an Early Winter, New Zealand Mountain Scene - Art and Painting Process

in #art2 months ago

It's winter here in New Zealand and it brings me back to a painting I did about three years ago which I painted outdoors. After the cold spell of weather we had that brought snow to the mountains, it had then been sunny, crisp and bloody cold. New Zealand is in the southern hemisphere so the seasons are in reverse and the low light in the sky creates some beautiful winter lighting effects.

At the time I had just I finished work I had about enough time to paint this mountain landscape which I painted outdoors know as painting en plein air.

This is the painting I created and I show you the process of how this came together.

'Early Winter, The Remarkables', 8" x 10", oil on canvas panel, painted outdoors en plein air.

This was the view I painted, I drove up onto the ridge at the bottom of the Crown Range which has this amazing view of the Remarkables Mountains. I love the winter colours, the brown hues in the bare trees and straw yellow colours in the grass juxtaposed against snowy mountains are great ingredients for paintings.

I set up my Strada easel and started painting, there was no messing around here, I had about an hour and twenty minutes of daylight left which is not a lot of time so I had to work quickly.

I painted this art work on an 8" x 10" canvas panel that I prepared earlier with a layer of burnt sienna. This helps me with colour and tone. 

The colours I used to create this painting included:

Titanium white

Burnt sienna

Yellow oxide

Cadmium yellow

Cadmium orange

Perylene crimson

Ultramarine blue

Phthalo green

I sketch out the composition with burnt sienna.

The light was shifting rapidly so I had to get my dark tones established as quickly as possible as this will also help me define the shape of the mountains.

I mixed the mountain shadows with ultramarine blue, burnt sienna, perylene crimson and titanium white. I then mixed the shadows colours in the trees and grass in the foreground, this is tonally the darkest value in the painting.

Next I paint the sky using a combination of ultramarine blue and titanium white to create some nice clean colour.

I paint the snow shadows with ultramarine blue, perylene crimson and titanium white and I paint the base of the mountain that is in light with ultramarine blue, burnt sienna, perylene crimson and titanium white. This you may notice are the same colours I used in the shadows, I did this on purpose as I am trying to consistently use common colours throughout the painting. This will make the painting more cohesive and the colours more harmonious.

I paint the grass in the foreground with ultramarine blue, cadmium yellow, yellow oxide, a little cadmium orange and titanium white. Here I can use my most saturated colour. The straw like grass was painted using yellow oxide, burnt sienna and titanium white.

At this point I had about 10 minutes of full sun left before it disappeared behind the mountain, I really had to get this painting finished asap.

I paint the crack willow tree in the foreground. The tree at this point had shed all its leaves leaving behind its skeleton. Plein air painting is all about capturing the atmosphere and colours of the location you're painting in and for this reason everything needs to be simplified. It's not practical to paint all the branches and twigs so I treat the trees as solid shapes and paint the general colours of the twigs.

By this point the light in the foreground had disappeared and as soon as that happened the temperature really started to drop and my fingers were really getting cold. I had to get this painting finished.

I painted the snow that is in light on the mountain, the fun part. I mix titanium white with a little yellow oxide and burnt sienna to give it a winter glow, adding this makes the painting start to come alive.

I finish the painting by refining the shape of the mountain and adding some exposed rocks in the snow. I also refine the grass in the foreground and with that the painting is complete.

My finished painting on my Strada easel.

I hope you enjoyed this painting tutorial, check out my website for more painting demos and my art: 

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