I have been having a bit of a 'thing' about Hog Weed over the past few weeks. I suppose it is because there seems to have been a massive amount in the hedgerows and on the central reservations of the roads around here. It is also one of my favourite plants to paint because of its beautiful structure.
I use the words 'Hog Weed' in a fairly loose way as I am not sure of the botanical differences between the Hog Weed and plants such as Cow Parsley and Queen Anne's Lace. They are all so similar to me!
Anyway, this weeks topic at Avon Valley Artists was 'A Winter Scene' so it seemed an ideal opportunity to include some of these lovely seed heads.
I am not too confident with painting landscapes, so I decided to have a bit of a practice go before the session. My idea was to paint two paintings using the same subject to see how they could be varied. I have put the two beginnings side by side in the photographs so that you can see the difference.
I started by drawing and then masking out the Hog Weed in the two paintings, having one portrait format and the other landscape format.
I then added the background and foreground washes to the paintings, leaving the portrait format to dry as it was, but using cling film to define the foreground in the landscape format. I was using heavy paper, both by Hahnemuhle, 450gm Cornwall Matt for the portrait format and 500gm Andalucía for the Landscape format. I was a little anxious about the Andalucía, as the cling film needed to dry over night and this meant that the masking fluid was sitting on the paper for some time. The paper has quite a soft surface and I was worried that the masking fluid would lift some of the surface when it was removed. which in fact happened , despite my care. The portrait format was less of a worry as I removed the masking fluid the same day, as soon as the background washes were dry.
I am not quite sure how this painting came to look as if it is beside water. This was never my intention, but I think it may be due to the upward brush strokes whilst the wash was beginning to dry.
These were meant to be large reeds and small trees, but they dried giving the impression of reflections in water, so I left them like that.
This painting became a much more chilly painting and I was really pleased with the cling film landscape, and did very little to it once it was dry, except to add a dramatic tree and a few grasses.
The biggest problem was that the sky was not dark enough to make the frosted Hog Weed stand out.
I allowed the painting to dry and settle completely, mixed up a much darker wash, and using the gentlest of touches, over painted the sky. It needed a bit of courage to do this as I was afraid of spoiling the whole thing at this stage.
However, with real care, it seemed to work , but I did have to strengthen the Hog Weed and the tree and add more frostiness to the seed heads and grasses.
Isn't it amazing how different they turned out, from very similar starting points. Not sure at this stage if I have a favourite. I will prop them up in the studio and live with them for a bit, before I decide.
The portrait format was completed in the studio and the landscape painting was the result of my efforts at AVA.