Arley in Autumn – watercolour painting stages
Gorgeous Arley in Autumn watercolour painting is based on the Autumn colours I saw on a woodland walk in Arley Arboretum. Arley Arboretum is based near Upper Arley village in Worcestershire. It is a beautiful place to visit, with gorgeous varieties of trees. In this painting I wanted to capture the vibrant Autumn colours I observed.
First I started painting the trees, with pale green washes. Have you noticed during Autumn, Winter and early Spring the barks are more green than brown? I left dappled areas unpainted on the barks, this would be the highlighted texture. Then I added darker green wash, slowly building layers of watercolour. I waited for each layer to dry, before adding another.
Next I painted a brown mix wash over the green washes of bark. I also thought about the sunlight creating shadows across the bark. Therefore I started to build layers of brown wash in the shaded areas of the bark. I used several hues of brown mixes, depending on whether the bark would be in sunlight or shade. The sunlit areas were more green than brown.
Painting Autumn Colours
I began painting the background Autumn leaves of Arley in Autumn, while continuing to add watercolour washes to the barks. Every dotted brushstroke of yellow/ orange and red watercolour paint has been done by brush. I haven’t flicked or sprayed the paint onto the paper. Instead I controlled the brushstrokes of paint, it requires more concentration.
I started with a vibrant, strong pigmented yellow for the leaves. I made several layers of this colour, painting around the branches yet to be painted. Then I created a vivid orange mix and used this to paint dots over some areas of the yellow leaves. Finally I created a rich red colour mix and painted dots over yellow and orange leaves.
Next I began adding green dots of colour, to represent the leaves not yet turned to Autumn. I constantly kept building the layers of yellow, orange and red colours, replicating the swirls and patterns of leaves. How the leaves are a mass of yellow, with orange colours amongst them, then odd red leaves dotted about. Lines of colour, where the leaves of a branch have all turned Autumn at the same time.
Painting watercolour layers
While I wait for a layer of wash to dry, I work on another area. I have to keep stepping back from the painting and assess what I’ve painted. Arley in Autumn painting has many layers and I could have easily got carried away with painting more and more leaves. Too many layers and the underlying layers would have been lost, instead of vibrant yellow leaves, they could all have been a mass of orange leaves. This would have lost the paintings depth.
It takes patience waiting for layers to dry and then you have to remember to add the next layers. As I paint I also decide which branches will be in front of the leaves and which will sit behind. Also I have to think about where to leave spaces for the sky to filter through.
You can see the completed Arley in Autumn watercolour above. Hundreds of leaves all patiently painted, to create a gorgeous vibrant Autumn woodland landscape.