Smoky Mountains in Early Spring – Progression

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Because of the mist—the iconic feature of the Smoky Mountains—there was a great difference between the barely visible distant mountains and the tree trunks.This scene required a careful adjustment of value from foreground to background.To strike the right relative darkness between the trees and the mountains before investing time in the entire painting, I painted a stripe along the left side of the painting.When the values were adjusted I continued with each layer horizontally across the painting.

The trees consisted of many colors. I back painted areas with a mid range color (panel three) and then added the higher and lower tones. I made the twigs and branches first, following my drawing. Instead of working around the twigs and branches with the background, which is a very tedious process, I waited until the twigs dried and then swept my knife over them with the background color, scraping along the twigs so that dark lines were left defining each twig. You can’t do this with brush painting. The technique depends upon painting the twigs with little ridges of paint using the side of the knife.

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