The upper Dungeness River at Heather Creek

Last week when it was hot (yes, those 2 days in August) Tom and I took a lovely hike along the upper Dungeness river and as usual I took enough reference photos to last a lifetime.  I couldn't wait to get home and get my brushes wet!  I am trying to get more comfortable with the system of applying watercolor in 3 layers.  So, here is the drawing with the lightest areas masked out.

I forgot to stop and take a photo after the initial very wet wash, but here is the painting after the first wash and with the resist removed and some of the second layers of paint  in place....notice how I jumped from the soft first wash to the hard darks around the stones - it was too great a jump and precluded many of the interim choices I wanted to incorporate.

Here is that painting as finished as it was going to get....I was disappointed and a little discouraged.  The reference photos have such dramatic lights streaming through the trees and onto the water and I wasn't able to capture it to my satisfation.

Here's the reference photo - I'm sure you can see what I mean.

So, I drew it again and put much less resist in the upper right area.  I decided I wanted to have the lightest lights included in the first wash.  See the color swatches on the side of the paper?  I mixed puddles of each color before I wet the paper so I wouldn't need to stop painting to mix more paint.  This also helps me have confidence that the colors I have chosen will be harmonious.

Again I forgot to take a photo after the initial wash was dry - I was just too eager to jump into the second layer I guess.  Even at this stage though I could tell that I was being more sensitive to the mid values.  I was pleased that they were clear and jewel like colors, not dark and muddy like before.

You can see the white of the paper on the right appears to be blue, so you know the color of the entire photo is too dark and too blue; the actual painting is lighter and has a more sunny yellow cast.

Here the second layer is complete...all that's left is the detail work especially in the lightest area.  So out comes the small brush and the new rigger brush I bought especially for branches and twigs.

And Voila!  It's finished.  Of course it's still not perfect, but it does capture the cool, frothy, mossy dampness Tom and I enjoyed that day.  I hope I don't always have to paint a subject twice, but if I do, it's a good way to capture what I learned the first time and overwrite that glum feeling of  disappointment with satisfaction!


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