Stunning mountain scenery dominates the landscape in southern Germany and Switzerland. It can take one’s breath away. I recall that the trails were more populated than others when I painted the piece above; people headed back and forth to a large aqua lake fed by glacier water. We picnicked there but then moved on because of the crowds, which, except for cities, were rare. I used a mix of Brown Madder and Cerulean for the mountain peaks. Here is an example of how azure-blue the mountain lakes are:
Coots (above) and grebes (below) are common in Europe’s lakes, which are refreshingly cold and offer welcome relief from summer heat. My favorite was the Thunersee, or Lake Thun. I added frisket just to the white reflections, then used Cerulean and some Cobalt Turquoise Light for the water, painting quickly across much of the birds and their dark reflections but around their white and paler markings. When dry, specific darker and more colorful shapes, including reflections, were added. The birds often swam along with or near us, a particular delight to me! (Both paintings were done in my studio.)
Another favorite experience was hiking flat, paved trails in Switzerland’s Lauterbrunnen Valley, directly below the cliffs that soared above us, on which we had earlier hiked trails, and from which we watched dare-devil hang-gliders leap. My previous post, “Painting While Traveling, Part 1,” shows paintings of views above this valley and from the trails atop these cliffs, which we had hiked between Grütschalpen and Mürren. Bicyclists, roller-bladers and runners joined us and other hikers toward Stechelberg, from where we took a bus back to our car. The distance was about 4-5 miles. Here is a view I painted from that splendid valley:
Sky was painted first, and when dry, the mountain cliffs and distant trees, sparkling brook, and bright green meadow were added. A wet- and dry-n-dry application was used for the brook and everything else was painted wet-on-dry. The house was painted next, and finally the dark trees behind with a creamy consistency of dark greens. Note that the trees vary in value. Tree silhouettes help suggest the species, like the evergreens against the cliffs. When all was dry spattered red paint suggests blooming wildflowers.
On another day, the view above was painted before we accidentally took a wrong trail, poorly marked, descending the mountain. Though it seemed relatively straight-forward at first, it soon became obvious that it was too narrow, steep, slippery and uneven to traverse safely or to reverse course. No one else was on the trail, probably a red flag, and we had no choice but to continue on and hope for the best. After about three hours we finally reached a regular road, took a break, and followed it until we were in a more familiar area. While extremely challenging and frankly upsetting at the time, it left us with an unforgettable experience!
Above is another view of this particular mountain, and it probably appears deceivingly easy to descend as it did to us….
Purposeful blooms were added with a round brush to damp, painted sky to depict the cumulus clouds behind the peak. Then blue paint was lifted with tissue and a damp, clean brush. Shrub foliage in front was painted with a rough sponge and a few twigs added with a script brush while foliage was still wet. After our harrowing adventure, we stayed on level, paved paths for the rest of the trip, even as hills and mountains rose around us…
Here, distant mountain peaks, forest and hills were painted first, then the orange buildings, followed by the light green meadows, and finally by dark trees, posts, and other details. Again, my paintings hardly do justice to nature’s beauty in this part of the world.