Behind the Easel: Creeper Trail
With vine charcoal, I map out my composition. This is a critical step for me as I can immediately sense the potential success of the project. I keep this drawing loose to accommodate changes in the horizon line. I prefer not to make my rough in too finished but this stage remains a very important point in my painting process.
I begin to apply some pastel, sticking to a very few colors that approximate the general coloration of my subject. Keep in mind that the pastel is only the delivery method in this technique. You don't need very much with the heavily pigmented pastels I use.
Liquefy the pastel with acrylic matte medium. I use a three inch square piece of one inch thick foam and dip into the matte medium. I try to follow the form here and there. Some of these strokes could show through and add a subtle texture interest. What is wonderful is in just a minute or two my design comes to life. I'm creating a good foundation to build on with these initial transparent washes.
Add more pastel and liquefy to further develop the glazes. I've added a few strokes of green pastel and some purple on the shadows.
I continue to refine and add some orange pastel to the tree trunks. Remember that the values will darken when you liquefy.
Adding opaque passages brings out a nice contrast of textures and edges. I mixed up some homemade acrylics with dry pigment and matte medium and applied it to the brightest areas of the painting with a rounded palette knife. The opaque areas add some pop to the painting but some of the softness and subtleties are lost.
Finishing up - I soften the look of the painting with glazing. I add some light coral pastel to the path and a very light yellow and some green glazes to the background. Glazing is so easy with this method. I simply dip my foam into matte medium and water based urethane. I go back and forth adding more opaque touches and then coming back with glazing to soften. I am seeking a balance of soft and hard that will seem like outdoor sunlight. I glaze a very light yellow over most of the painting. This effect is like bathing the painting in sunlight. It really improves things and I feel more hopeful about my finishing touches.