A Rivenside View
This painting was very experimental. This could have failed very badly. It was started in July 2018 with the clear inspiration taken from Rivendell of Lord-of-the-Rings fame. However, the plan was to see what I could get by not over-planning the painting. Start out with a very rough overall impression then develop the detail organically like something growing. I wanted water, mountainsides, waterfall, and a mysterious atmosphere (as per usual).
I started out with what in watercolour terms would be an elaborate wash. This was however in acrylics. I went through a period of using acrylic washes as you would with watercolours: diluted so that the white is made up by the paper underneath showing through. I went off this as the opaque parts of the painting mismatch with the washed areas: their colour balance shifts depending on the lighting, the surface texture is very different, and the paper ages differently to the paint. So I now use a lot of titanium white and make the 'wash' opaque. In this case I made the far distance yellow in contrast with the nearer hillside in blue. Yes this is counter to the usual plan. However, I wanted an invisible waterfall to be filling the valley with a glowing mist, lit up by sunlight. The tonal range is set and the rough shape of the valley and river at the bottom.
Switching from my largest brush straight to my smallest, I rapidly add dabs of paint to mark where I think the village would look good existing. Practically no detail as such, just an impression. I try to leave large blank areas and group the proto-houses in constellations that feel interesting. At the same time I try to pick out the perspective of the valley so that depth forms. I kept going backwards and forwards, developing the locations as a whole until some kind of balance is obtained.
Now I know where everything is going to lie, it is apparent that the foreground needs to be bolder. I work in some darker colours, slightly warmer, and at the same time build up rock-like textures. I do not try to paint individual rocks. I am happy with that, so now it is just a matter of working over the detail: houses, spires, stairs, bridges and the waterfall at the front. I also develop the rocks around the houses so that it all blends together.
Now to finish off, a lot of detail to develop the near foreground on the right hand side, ending in the railed pathway with another good dollop of perspective.
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