It the beginning of the month and many of the WetCanvas forums will be posting a 'challenge' to be painted. I first checked the watercolour forum. No. I'm not going to paint a flower, or a least not right away. Maybe later. Next I check the Southwest and Western Art forum. 10 scenic pictures of the Helena area of Montana but nothing that reaches out and says to me: “Paint me!”. Maybe I'll have better luck on some of the other forums.
A couple of days later and I still haven't found inspiration in any of the April challenges. Instead, I'm working on another of my Tuscan cityscape series. I review S&WA again. Maybe there is a picture in the rocks, the last photograph and then again maybe there isn't.
Eventually I check the photographs in the April challenge on the Southwest and Western Art forum for a third time. This time I carefully read the accompanying text and google 'the sleeping giant' Montana. I spend a hour or so dreaming about the second photograph in this post. I like the hard diagonal ramp for left to right in this photograph. Then there are the strong contrasts of the mid-ground hill and the dark trees that give rise to some interesting abstract shapes. Finally there is the sleeping giant itself in the distance. OK. Foreground, mid-ground and a background plus the sky. All the elements I need for a landscape painting. I'll just stir into the mix in a little Frank Lloyd Wright a'la Talissin West from Milton Sticker's Design through Abstraction and see what develops.
The starting point:
Using this reference photograph, I made a full size (15x22) pencil sketch of the scene.
I taped this sketch down to my painting table and placed a second layer of tracing paper over it. My painting table is white, or mostly white so the sketch shows through without much problem. I used a small straight edge and a soft lead pencil to re-trace the sketch while removing most of the curves. I also added or emphasised some of the background mountains and sharpened their peaks.
In the final overlay, I further emphasised some additional lines, added some sky lines and the abstracted clouds, and the foreground abstract shape. This image was transferred to the watercolour paper by blacking the back of the sheet with a soft lead pencil and tracing the major lines with a blunt lead. This provided a light image that I could use to lay down the sky lines, profile of the mountains and the foreground lines in India Ink and black acrylic paint. Additional lines were added directly on the watercolour sheet with pens and acrylic paint pens.
Once the ink and acrylic was dry, watercolour was added in a series of washes to complete the image.
Faber-Castell Pitt India Ink pens Black and Sepia, Decocolor Acrylic Black paint pen, and Daniel Smith watercolours on 200# Suanders-Waterford CP. 15x22
I hope you enjoy it.