An Autumnal forest


Autumn (or Fall, for my American friends) is finally here in all its glory, and Ireland is definitely one of the best places to admire the ever-changing nature. All around is getting, day after day, more and more orange and yellow and red and brown. You can smell the crispy air, and all the products of the autumn are here too!

Last week I went for a walk in a birch wood nearby, and the inspiration for a new painting came right away, like a bullet!

I have to admit, I have never painted woods or forests, this was the first time. Although challenging, it has been so much fun and I am really pleased with the result. One of my favorite paintings so far!

Let me get into a bit of a run through the process and materials:

First of all the palette used: as you know, my palette is very small, I do not own (by choice) many colors. For this painting, I had to really figure out how to best capitalize on the couple of yellows and reds that are indeed part of my palette. I ended up using a Nap Yellow, A Lemon Yellow (an old tube never used, probably from one of those ready-made palettes that once I eventually bought), a Carmine Red, a Burnt Umber, and a Burnt Sienna, and of course White and Black.

The first thing to do was mixing the colors, something that I so seldom do. Trying to get the best shades of Orange and Red that could fit an autumnal landscape. That took quite a while, but eventually, I got there with a majestic palette!

The sketch part was really simple, on a 'recycled' canvas, I drew the vertical lines of the birch trunks, and a horizontal line 3/4 through, for the horizon, that was basically it! Some work took me to understand where the shadows of the trees were to be and making sure they followed all prospective rules (still a big unknown to me).

For the painting stage, I started from the sky slowly down to the ground, and back up to the sky, and down again, trying to blend those beautiful colors together and make the whole thing feel natural enough.

I left the tree trunks as the last piece to paint. They were so much fun to paint! I first got a layer of solid white, and with a flat brush smudged a bit of brown and red trying to 1, recreate the texture of a birch trunk and 2, give an idea of where the light is shiny and where it's in shade.

I know I am pretty bad at describing this in words, but I have a full video that shows step by step all these passages. Hope you enjoy it!

Sam