Autumn Colors

Autumn Colors

by Susan Scheewe
as seen on Scheewe Art Workshop

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Each season is so inviting with wonderful subjects to paint. Depending on the area you live you may want to not paint distant mountains or change the brightness of the fall hues. There can easily be so many variations to a sketch or using similar backdrop. The size of the paintings can vary easily doing smaller versions for an accent or very large wall size murals.

  • Acrylic
  • Cadmium Yellow Pale
  • Cadmium Yellow Medium
  • Orange
  • Country Brick
  • Burnt Umber
  • Indigo
  • Raw Sienna
  • Opaque White
  • Violet
  • Cobalt Blue

2 Inch Foliage Brush
1/2 Inch Angular Shader
1 Liner
6 Round
3/4 Inch Angular Shader
185lb paper or stretched canvas

Step 1
Sketch the outline of the water, mountains, and larger tree trunks to the painting surface. Place the pigment on your palette and spray to control moisture and painting consistency. You will need to spray frequently making it possible to paint for long periods without the pigment drying.

Step 2
Paint the sky first starting below the mountain line using the 2 inch foliage brush with a mixture of Opaque White and a little Raw Sienna which has be diluted with water to make a creamy consistency. As you work quickly mix Opaque White, a little Cobalt Blue with a hint of Violet that has been diluted to a creamy consistency. Work from the top of the painting surface brushing downward adding more White to the mixture and forming a gradation in colors.

Step 3
The distant mountain range is painted using a 3/4 inch angular shader starting with the lightest mixture of Opaque White, hint of Cobalt Blue and Violet. Deepen the value as you work on the more forward mountains by adding more Cobalt Blue and Violet and you can gray slightly by adding a hint of Burnt Umber.

Step 4
Paint the foundation of the water area using a 3/4 inch angular shader using a mixture of Opaque White and Cobalt Blue. The water will reflect of the beautiful sky colors as well as the reflection of the trees and river bottom. The foliage reflection can be applied later when you paint the foliage. Add an Opaque White highlight. Do not forget to spray the pigment on your palette.

Step 5
Paint the larger graceful tree trunks and rocks to help with visual placement with diluted Burnt Umber using a round brush and a liner for the smaller twigs. Add enough water to make a very creamy almost ink like consistency. You will come back and refine the trunks after you apply foliage to make adjustments. It is important as you paint the tree to think about variations in size and shapes being careful not to form straight trunks that appear as telephone poles. Lift up on the liner brush as you form the little twigs.

Step 6
Use the foliage brush to tap on the foliage. The consistency of the pigment is important. If you use too much water it will be sloppy and too little will make it hard to get a nice light leaf pattern. Tap harder in the ground area to cover the surface and LIGHTLY to create the lacy leaf look in the trees and the next layer. TAP on the palette rather then mixing on the palette to get color variations. The darker values of Country Brick and hints of Burnt Umber can be on the short end of the brush while the longer front half of the brush can tap in Cadmium Yellow Medium and Raw Sienna. Even a little Opaque White can be added but be careful that it does not make it too pastel. Spray the palette often to control the consistency. It is easy to make adjustments by tapping on another layer over a dry layer. Keep a scrap paper handy to test the colors and consistency. Too much pigment on the surface, blot with a paper towel. This is your painting and you may or may not want to tap on a little Orange. Keep in mind this is a fall painting and likely some of the leaves have fallen. The ground area is deeper in value and by painting the ground area a little darker you will be able to come back once this has dried and add lighter foliage.

Step 7
Paint the bank using brush mixtures of Opaque White, Raw Sienna and deepen the value with a little Country Brick and Burnt Umber in the shadow area next to the foliage and at the base of some of the rocks. The lightest area is at the waters edge. Pull some of the color across the shallow water area. Create some hard and soft edges along the waters edge.

Step 8
Reference the photo to see the shadow and reflection at the banks edge in the water. Apply just a little of the pigment at a time in the water area to glaze on the reflections.

Step 9
Refine the tree trunks by adding more pigment where needed. Add a few more small branches if needed using the liner. While you have the liner in hand, paint a few birds in the sky. Practice on scrap paper before you paint the birds in the sky. Vary the size of the birds to create more depth.

Step 10
It is easy to adjust the foliage. Lightly tap back on just a few light foliage areas where needed.
Paint some grass areas by sweeping upward at the ground using the foliage brush and tap lightly to form small bushes. Using a liner, pull up individual grass blades here and there. You may even want to tap on just a few small leaves on the forward tree branches.

Step 11
Those wonderful little finishing touches add so much to a painting. Adding some little leaves on a few forward branches. Painting the rocks again where needed but making sure they look as ground or foliage at the bottom of the rocks.

I hope you have learned techniques that you can use in other paintings you will do in the future. Try some variations on some greeting cards to send to friends for the fall holidays seasons.