Painting Winter: Background Progress

Here’s today’s winter birch forest painting status!
This morning I glued a first layer of birch trees onto the background, along with a few leaves and yellow grass. The trees were too pale, so I had to add an extra layer of dark gray. Now I will work on adding some texture to the snow on the floor before gluing the foreground trees.

What is keeping you busy today ?


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Painting Winter

Snowy trees || by marion

The snow came early this year.

Watercolor palette || by marion

I decided it was a good time to get started on the winter version of my birch forest series.

Snowy landscape || by marion

It was the kind of snow that stays on the trees. I just love it, when this happens.

Watercolor birches || by marion

The birches are ready to be cut.

Snowy winter landscape || by marion

It was winter wonderland last week. Now everything is melting again.

Watercolor painting in progress || bymarion

Funny coincidence: this afternoon, I ran out of white paint.


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Birch Forest Spring

Birch Forest Spring || Watercolor and cut paper collage || by marion

One of the things I love most about living in Scandinavia is the strong contrast between seasons. But even from week to week, nature keeps changing drastically. When I started thinking about making a spring version of my birch forest, the things that came to my mind were these little flowers and tender green birch leaves. In reality, they come several weeks apart (and perhaps not exactly in the same spots); but what’s the point of making art if you can’t play with the rules of nature?

spring flowers

As for the fall version, I painted the foreground birches, birds, flowers and leaves on a separate piece of paper before cutting them and gluing them onto the background.

Cut paper pieces || spring flowers || by marion

Cotton paper is wonderful to paint on. I enjoyed playing with successive layers of paint and letting the transparency of watercolors do its magic.

The making of the birch forest ||cut paper and watercolor || by marion

This time I tried adding some extra leaves on the forest floor. I’m not sure it adds any interest though. I also prefer the way the shadows of the trees look on the fall version.

I think I’ll make the summer version next. Winter will require a bit more research: there’s a lot of white to think about!

But this week I’m taking a little break from birds and trees to work on some greeting cards designs. What about you? I hope you have a great week!


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Another Birch Forest

Birch Forest Spring || Watercolor and cut paper collage in progress || by marion

Autumn is in the air already. Berry picking and wall painting are on hold. Back to my watercolors and glue I’m making the most of rainy days: the spring version of my birch forest is almost done! I have glued all the trees and flowers, and now I’m working on some bird sketches.

How is your week coming along ?


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Birch Forest Song: the final painting

Birch Forest Song || Watercolor and cut paper collage || by marion

And here is the final piece!

When I showed the preliminary drawing to the friend who commissioned the piece, she said that she liked the new composition, but that she would prefer it without the leaves on the forest floor. Instead, she suggested using little touches of color to represent the carpet of leaves.

I was happy to do so. I also decided to add some yellow foliage in the background, since the top part looked too empty.

I painted the black and white birches, the leaves and the bird on separate pieces of paper before cutting them and gluing them onto the background.

And finally, I painted some drop shadows which were a great improvement since they really added some depth.

I’m quite happy with the result. But most importantly, this was a super interesting and fun project to work on. My friend was great at giving me constructive feedback along the process (and very patient, too!). It really helped me to improve the piece and learn tons of new skills.

 


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Birch Forest Song : A Painting In Progress

Birch forest song // watercolor and cut paper collage // by marion

While everything is green and blooming around me, I am working on some autumn leaves. A friend asked me if I could paint something for her, and of course I was thrilled. Thanks, friend! Her wishes were : yellow and orange.

We made a shared pinterest board to gather inspiration and after a little brainstorming, ended up with the idea of an autumn leaves pattern, a little robin, yellow, orange, brown and gray tones.

It seems that my brain transformed “autumn leaves pattern” into “birch forest”. Don’t ask me why. (It might have something to do with Sweden).

birch forest, västerbotten, sweden
So, this is the first study I made. As usual I used a combination of watercolor and cut paper collage.

rougegorge_relief02_small

The composition is too flat, and the background doesn’t have enough texture.

But since then I’ve made progress, so stay tuned!


 


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Love, Emma and the h-index

I love you more than your h-index || watercolor lettering || bymarion
After some failed attempts to come up with a satisfying greeting card design with watercolor calligraphy, I decided to give it up and go for a cut paper design instead.

Cards have been made and mailed and now I am back to my watercolor lettering experiments. I ditched the calligraphy nibs and switched to good old brushes and extra nice watercolor paper. I’m hoping to produce a couple of these “I love you more than your h-index” paintings to add to my shop in time for Valentine’s day.

I’m quite happy with the result so far, though it’s a very, very long, tedious process. I’m always wondering to what extent my using the wrong tools makes things take way more time than they should. But at least while I’m at it, I’m listening to an audiobook version of Jane Austen’s Emma, and laughing quite a lot. This makes for a good contrast with the actual h-index thing, the stupidity of which is more prone to making me want to cry!


other things on my desk


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Winter Is Upon Us

Window frost feathers

The temperature dropped down to -23°C/-9°F last night and when we woke up, before sunrise, the inside thermometer read barely 10°C/50°F. But the wood stove was soon roaring, hot cups of tea were poured and porridge was bubbling.

By the look of things, there’s no point trying to open the front door: frozen!

I spent the morning finishing my book and trying out some knitting tricks. I went back to my watercolor lettering experiments in the afternoon. Cleaning and straightening up a couple of calligraphy nibs was definitely useful to avoid ruining the paper, but did not solve the annoying ink (well, paint) flow problem I had. The paint kept forming a drop at the back of the nib instead of flowing onto the paper, which back in the lab, I would have called a surface tension issue – typical! Dipping the tip of the nib in soapy water did the job. If anyone knows about unwanted long-term effects of adding soap to watercolors, I’ll be really happy to know.

Now I need to practice shaping letters and layout. That’s tonight’s program, and I’m off to my desk! The house is getting (a bit) warmer, freshly baked loaves of bread just came out of the oven where they were replaced by a pot of baked-beans-to-be. Really, I wouldn’t trade this life for any other one.

a cat on the desk


more glimpses of life


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Clean And Bright

A clean box of watercolors

After a somewhat unsatisfactory attempt to make a bunch of hand-lettered new year cards the past few days, I took a break from doodling today and just cleaned my box of watercolors. Meanwhile I happily caught up on two and a half episodes of the Craft Sanity Podcast, which if my calculations are correct adds up to a good two hours.

Logically, I made the following resolution for 2016: mix colors on the palette exclusively (not in the pots – ahem).

It’s not exactly the kind of painting productivity that I had envisioned for this week, but that’s still one thing out of the way. A clean and bright box of watercolors is as good a start as any to a new year, isn’t it?

Failed lettering

Happy new year watercolor lettering || by marion

watercolor doodles


other things on my desk


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