Clun Castle Stage I
This is a tonal sketch painted in Raw Umber acrylics to try out the composition and have a look at some of the major tonal elements of the scene, once I am happy with the composition I start to paint in Winsor and Newton ‘s ‘Artisan’ water-mixable oils, my favourite medium of all! The castle ruins are the main focal point of this scene with the slopes of the hill leading up to it and I will make use of the dark against light aspect of the ruins.
I am using a fairly limited palette using the following colours…
Titanium White; Cobalt Blue; Raw Umber; Alizarin Crimson; Cadmium Yellow Light; Yellow Ochre; Raw Sienna and Payne’s Gray
I start by blocking in the main elements of the sky and the landscape beyond the hills and am now very happy with the overall effect and can see in my mind’s eye how the painting will look when I have finished. The sky was painted using Cobalt Blue and Titanium White with just a tiny touch of Raw Umber which makes the blue go slightly grey, very much more English. The clouds are created using mixes of Titanium White, Cobalt Blue, Raw Umber and Permanent Alizarin Crimson, be very careful when adding the crimson as this is a very powerful staining colour these colours in varying shades will create great cloud shadow colours. White can be blended into the clouds and painted on the top creating very subtle highlights and changes of tone within the clouds. The trees in the distance are a mix Cobalt Blu and Cadmium Yellow Light with a touch of White and Crimson (the addition of Crimson or indeed Red to a green makes the green go a shade of grey green). The yellowish fields are a mix of Yellow Ochre, White and a touch of Raw Sienna whilst the darker brownish yellow is a mix of Raw Sienna, Yellow Ochre and White with a smear of Raw Umber here and there to create some variation.
All of the trees are painted in with a very dark shadow colour I mix using Cobalt Blue, Cad Yellow Payne’s Gray and a touch of Raw Umber. I stipple a lighter green mix using the blue and yellow with a touch of Yellow Ochre over this (much bluer in the distance) and finally I paint in the highlight colours using the Cobalt Blue, Cad. Yellow, and here and there a little Yellow Ochre and White creating various shades of lighter greens depicting the shapes of the trees by the use of highlighting showing that the light is coming from the left. I put some more darks and lights in the distant landscape creating greater variation in the patchwork of fields. I then paint in the field in the bottom left hand corner and add more highlights in the trees. Next I block in the silhouetted castle ruins in readiness to add more detail to the stonework a little further down the line. This is mainly Raw Umber and White with a little blue here and there.
The next job was to block in the hill scrubbing in some earthy greens mixed from the Cobalt Blue, Cad. Yellow, Yellow Ochre and Raw Umber. The earth colours from mixes of Yellow Ochre and Raw Umber and a little Raw Sienna. The light straw coloured grasses on the hill are created with Yellow Ochre, Raw Sienna and white. The bottom right hand corner is scrubbed in with a basic earthy, yellowy green.
Clun Castle Stage V
I painted the grasses and flora in the bottom right hand corner using my two haired brush, no this is not an exaggeration I took two hairs from a decorating brush and taped them tightly together to a cocktail stick, made some well wetted paint with painting medium and painted each blade of grass, a method which is actually a lot quicker than it sounds; the colours used were Yellow Ochre, Raw Sienna, Raw Umber and White. Next was to paint the wild flowers on the hillside, some yellow (Ragwort I think) using Cad Yellow Pale some white ones (slightly tinted with Yellow Ochre so that they were off white) and some blue ones (I’m no Botanist) using Cobalt Blue, A tiny touch of Crimson and White.
I put a little more variation of colour on the middle distant trees and the field to the left and signed it thinking I was finished, however having lived with it for a day I thought I might paint in some birds constituting the final stage. After some deliberation I decided it needed the Rooks, they give the painting a bit of life and there’s something about Rooks, Ravens and Crows that give castle ruins a sense of the Gothic, probably to do with Hollywood and the Hammer House of Horror, but I like it! These I paint with a varying mix of Payne’s Gray and White. the positioning of the birds is considered and are placed approximately a third of the way down and a third of the way in on both sides of the sky and if you are only putting a few birds in always try and paint an uneven number and flying into the picture rather than out of it!
Clun Castle, The Finished Painting