Saturday, August 31, 2013

Dynamic compositions: the Isle of Skye

I wasn't able to spend a lot of time in my studio this month, but what time I did spend was working on watercolors based on the Isle of Skye sketches I developed in Barbara Jaenicke's  Landscape composition class at the Spruill Center for the Arts in Atlanta Georgia.  

The Isle of Skye is full of dramatic scenery.  It is the most northerly isle of the Inner Hebrides on the west coast of Scotland.  Wind, water and sky have shaped the island, and these elements are ever present in the landscape.  About a half dozen settlements hug rocky shored harbors around the isle.  The coast is a sinuous line of bays and rivulets radiating out from the center of the isle.  The central part of the isle has numerous mountains called Cuillins.  The Black Cuillin's are mostly basalt, while the Red Cuillin are mostly granite.  Hill walking on Skye is popular and often challenging.  The Cuillin's stark colors stand out against the contrasting blue sky and green moors.  The lack of trees allow the ubiquitous clouds to paint shadow patterns across the land.

I ended up painting two versions of the first sketch.  In the first one the fields in the foreground are a green that shades to blue, and the blues of the water are close to the blues of the sky and clouds.  The feel of this painting reminds me of the Isle of Skye, when the clouds were building for another afternoon rain shower.

In the second painting the green shades to yellow, and the blue of the water has more red in it. Bringing the color of the water closer to the blue-purple of the distant mountains and clouds.  This painting feels more like after the rain had finished and the sky was clearing.  It would rain multiple times a day, but be wonderfully clear in-between each shower.

The painting of the second sketch used a palette similar to the second painting, where the foreground green shades to yellow.  It has a bit more burnt sienna and the closer mountains have more green than blue in them.  I masked the house group while I painted the rest of the landscape, which made the washes much easier to do.  I finished the foreground field with some dry brush strokes while the paper was still wet to let them fade and mix.

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