When we last looked at this painting we had completed the background. Now to crack on with the bridge and foreground!
The most important element with the bridge and the foreground on the right is to maintain the light - so the first step to completing these elements is a very light wash to apply some colour without applying 'darkness'. The rock of the bridge, in real life, is a flat grey colour. This won't work in the painting, so to suggest warm sunlight across the scene we'll use a weak wash of warm raw sienna with a hint of the red colour in the sky - permanent rose. I followed this light wash with some shadows too. Here's the result of those first washes across these areas:
I carried this on with the rocks to the left. These rocks, in reality, are in deep shade, but this would be too dark. So I've used a bit of license to keep some light on them:
Now it's time to tackle the elephant in the room: the water. The pic above looks very weird, doesn't it? It's because the white is 'flat' as much as anything. So it was important to make sure that the water looks like a moving, active thing. To do this, I'm going to use a pencil to pull some lines of movement through the water then apply some masking fluid (liquid rubber) to the paper over them. These continuous lines will (I hope!) tie the body of the water into a single whole in the eye of the viewer. Once done, I then also mask the edges of the rocks, allowing a little overlap to allow a bright 'fringe' above the foreground rocks to suggest sunlight sparkling on the rocks. Now, I wet all the water area with clean water until the paper is soaking wet. This will keep the water area damp while I work, and allow washes to flow into each other, keeping the edges soft and natural in the water. Speed is of the essence here as once I start painting I have to finish before the paper starts to dry. I throw the dark washes into the wet area and stroke them into each other using primarily vertical brush strokes. The washes are very dark - partly to reflect the dark peaty colour to the water here in the Highlands but also to contrast with the lighter areas of land. Because the washes will dry lighter, I have to apply them really dark. It's a messy business!
Once fully dry, I remove the rubber and then go back into the water areas with a scrubbing brush and a tissue to 'lift out' areas of light highlights where the bright rocks on the far side are reflecting. I also enhance some of the darks to make them darker where I think they need it
Once finished, it's time for the foreground rocks. In real life they are incredibly complex, with lots of cracks and fissures, especially as the sun is from the side of the view and each crenellation casts a shadow! The effect, if I tried to copy it, would be to make the foreground rocks the main subject of the painting - and they aren't! So I'm going to simplify them a lot, with little more than some sunlit colours, a few big shadow areas, and a small amount of detail. I want to use them to draw the viewer into the painting and to make them look towards the bridge. So I'm going to highlight the lines in the rocks that help with that, and leave out the ones that don't:
I'm going to leave it there - I have to do something to keep the suspense don't I?
All there's left to do is to add some detail to the foreground rocks and then fuss around the whole thing to refine details and make sure the tonal values are right. I'll hope to publish the finished thing tomorrow once I have a properly scanned pic that represents the original perfectly. I hope you've enjoyed the process, and I hope you like the painting when you see it soon! All the best, Rob.
A professional artist living and working in the beautiful north of Scotland. My work is realistic and quite traditional, though strongly interpretational in nature. My inspiration is the beauty of Nature, and the wonderful colours and moods she shows everywhere.