Diana Probst, Cambridge Artist

Dragons: Day 4 – the rocks

Blue canvas with one painted corner showing an exit from a blue cave and sun beyondDay 4 was a faintly annoying day. I had to mix a blue that was darker than the colour out by the entrance, as if the yellow had been removed as the sunlight faded. However, there was not any yellow in my original blue mix. So, I needed to dull down the colour while fading it away, without any yellow to take out. I had also run out of a particular tube which as it turned out was last made in 1972. Cobalt Blue hue is cheaper than Cobalt Blue. It’s about a fifth of the price. Fortunately, it was also what I needed. That and about four other blues including two ultramarines did the job. At first it looked like they hadn’t, but then I added the pale highlights, and it started to look 3D again. The colours are different enough that it’s an effect of distance and lighting, which is what I am after, while similar enough that they are still obviously the same rock.

Half painted cave of blue rocks from withinThe problem of a flat canvas being used for a cave is one of background, midground, and foreground. All three need to fit in, and all three need to be obviously different, but they can’t be too different or the lighting effect will be false. Part of it is scale; the smaller rocks are at the back. Part of it is colouration. I divided up the painting into different days, so I could layer things to dry at the right rate, and every receding layers was painted at the same time. That means it will look the same regardless of how I elect to mix the paint that day, and I don’t need to mix to the same exact proportions. While I can do that, this saves me time.

I sketched in the foreground rock slab on the right and the space for the closer dragon, but I did not attempt to detail them. I just wanted to now where they would go so I knew where to stop painting the middle rocks. The slab might take some working or pattern, or I might just keep it plain and dark, depending on whether I need to chase the eye into the dragon, or whether the strong near vertical there is enough. The dark band of unlit rock goes across the cave, and will continue into the top right, so the bottom right will be lighter by comparison and should draw the eye.

In the course of painting this, I practiced watercolour dragons quite a lot. If you want to see what I did, I have several available:

I want to see burning skies!
I want a dramatic landscape
A sky city please

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