This is a demo of a painting I did while visiting Fort Fisher, North Carolina. The scene is early in the morning, just as the sun was rising and coming above the horizon, but below a bank of clouds. Scenic and tranquil, it really spoke to me of calm and peace.
Underpainting: I wanted a long panoramic format for this painting as the scene before me warranted a view that took in the hummock islands of this salt marsh. I used a sanded pastel paper and saturated watercolors to make this painting sing.
Roughing In: After thoroughly drying the underpainting with a hair dryer, I started to rough in the big blocks of color, but still letting the underpainting show through.
Local Color: Overlaying some of the local color – meaning the basic colors that I want to use for my painting.
Adding Lights: I continued to add more color – lights and darks – to further develop the painting, adding greens and yellows to the trees on the islands and adding some light yellows at the horizon line.
Working on the Water: I wasn’t totally happy with the composition, so I added a river of water going back to the horizon. I also was not happy with the way the water was turning out, so at this stage, I brushed out the water around the marsh grass with a wet brush and it darkened those shadows down and I liked those darks!
Adding the Lights to the Sky and Clouds: I further developed the clouds and the sunlight peeking out from behind the island on the left. I’ve found that instead of using my fingers to blend some edges, I like to use a Colorshaper instead. (see image below) These are rubber-tipped tools that are very flexible and can be used with a delicate touch to achieve lost or soft edges.
Final Version: I finished with an overall going over with lighter touches of yellow and gold everywhere, including the clouds.