Painting Exercise Step 5:
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Use the edge of the knife to draw vertical lines for the tree trunk and placement. Then, use the tip of the knife to create the illusion of branches. Create a few small trees in the foreground with the snow colors. This gives realistic depth to the scene. After all, with this much snow everywhere, the trees must have some also. There is more snow at the bottom of the trees as wind and movement takes it away from the tops. Paint some snow on the little mountain and also blend it down into the mist as you did with the large one.
Once the distant hill and trees are completed, mix a little burnt umber with white and block in the shape of the ledge. Paint some distant trees on this ledge using the same technique used on the hill at right. Make vertical strokes for these distant tree forms. Draw in suggestions of top detail. Add a tiny spec of yellow ochre to the grey-green at the bottom of these trees.
Next, mix yellow ochre, burnt umber and phthalo green for a dark undercolor in the main tree. Paint in the tree using the tip of the knife to "draw" in the branches. Draw strokes from the inside of the tree to the outer edge. Use the tip to break the edges into suggestions of branches and needles. Once the main tree is in, give it form with highlights of specks of cadmium yellow light plus a speck of phthalo green. Use short, vertical strokes and spot in trunk areas with white, burnt umber, and cadmium orange. See detail below.
Hold the knife in the tips of your fingers for a more gentle touch. Use the very tip to lightly drag the existing colors outward to create branches and the illusion of needles.
Develop final detail on the ledge using the light orange sunlight snow mix and the white and ultramarine blue shadow mix. Add a little white and reddish mountain color to the burnt umber ledge mix and build surface textures on the ledge. Add a speck of the dark tree mix to the original burnt umber and white and paint in the dark areas within the ledge. Once you have completed this little tree on the ledge, go back and touch up any areas in the painting that you wish to. Remember, spontaneity is important in this technique of painting so do not over work the painting. Keep it fresh and lively.
I hope you have enjoyed this painting lesson and I wish you the very best in your continued painting.
If you would like more on painting with a knife, visit our Instructional Videos section for our 2-hour knife painting tape.
©1995William F. Powell

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