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  • Writer's picturesharonould

How I Composed My Latest Painting 'Brading Marshes'

Just over a year ago I visited Bembridge Windmill on the Isle of Wight with the intention of creating a painting from the photos I took. I actually ended up making several trips and took many photos but frustratingly I still couldn't find the 'right' image I was looking for. The windmill itself was either too far away or too close or the foreground didn't inspire me enough or I couldn't seem to get the composition and depth I wanted or the sky wasn't interesting enough, these are all factors I consider when trying to compose a painting.

I ended up turning my attentions totally in the other direction and making a painting looking over Brading Marshes instead, for me the sky was more dramatic, the foreground was more interesting, the shape of the foreground water lead you into the picture and there were contrasting warm and cool colours. I liked the fact that the sky was reflected in the foreground water too adding another dimension. The foreground water also curved round and gracefully meandered through the picture into the distance leading your eye through the painting adding depth (see last photo). The warm and cool colours added contrast, with the cool blues, violets and greens contrasting against the warmer browny reds and yellowy greens.

My reference photos below

I combined my reference photos onto the computer to give a more pleasing picture and added a grid to help me draw out the painting more accurately

I then made a grid on my paper to help me draw everything in the right place first, though I do rub the lines out once I've got a faint sketch on the paper before I start to paint otherwise sometimes the pencil lines can show through

I started with the sky with quite loose wet on wet washes using ultramarine, cerulean blue, purple lake, aliz crimson and possibly a bit of cadmium red

I then painted the foreground water to reflect the sky using the same colours before adding the paler distant hills and lighter yellowy greens for the middle ground once the sky was completely dry. (Failing to do so would have meant that the hills would have bled into the sky.) The colours I've used are a mixture of sap green, viridian green, lemon yellow and yellow ochre and for the browny orange colours a mixture of burnt sienna and cadmium red

I then mixed burnt umber with existing browns and greens to create the darker areas of the middle ground

I forgot to take any photos of the next stage sorry!

But I just added the darker reeds and darker areas of the foreground marsh and brambles in the lower left hand corner. I also used a very fine brush to add in the distant trees on the left.

The image below shows the path through the painting, I didn't add the water marker on the bottom right hand side as I thought it would be too prominent in the painting, I'm still not sure if I should have painted this in or not what would you have done?

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