A Mountain Valley and Then Some

All images ©Bivenne Staiger

Here is the step-by-step sequence to paint another view of Switzerland’s beautiful Lauterbrunnen Valley, known for its many tall waterfalls. (I can’t get enough of this scenery.) When the sky wash was dry, I painted the cliff profiles using a mix of Brown Madder and Cerulean, keeping the neutral color slightly warm in temperature, and then added a bright wash of green for the meadow and a rough quick wash of blue for the fast-moving brook. Note the mostly uneven edges of the latter two shapes. Before the cliff wash completely dried, I added what I call purposeful blooms, wet-on-damp, and seen as blotches there.

All images ©Bivenne Staiger

Next, the palest wash of specific landscape shapes like house, distant mountain hill at right, and rocks were added. Again, these shapes were roughly applied at first, except where their silhouettes matter, for instance at the top edges of rocks and distant mountain hill, both solid shapes. While the rocks wash was almost damp – just about losing its wet shine – paint was scraped away with a small piece of an old credit card. Do you see those light blue shapes within the rocks? I also added shadow shapes here and there to help further define some rocks.

All images ©Bivenne Staiger

Some dark value shapes can now be added where they won’t interfere with subsequent washes. The mid-value and dark leaves of the foreground bush were painted quickly and loosely with a round brush, and while still wet, branches were suggested with a script brush pulled with some brown from the green paint. All was painted very fast. Some branches were scraped away from dark paint as it dried. Note that leaves crossing the house shape are both light and dark and that the house color is a negative space shape to them.

Lauterbrunnen Valley 3, watercolor, 12×16″ ©Bivenne Staiger, 2020

Perhaps you can now see why the upper parts of the house were earlier painted beyond the shape edges. Dark value in the trees behind can neatly cover such an overlap. This helps make a neater edge betwen defined shapes like these. I should’ve added more color variation to the dark tree line and made the distant rocks along the stream paler, and can still do both. The house walls and the underside of the eaves were painted as one unit in a mid-value brown; I also wiped paint at top of the eave shape away with my finger to keep its value slightly lighter there than at its bottom. Then, when the entire shape was dry, another (much darker) layer was added just to the walls, visually separating them from the eave shape. Note the negative space shapes of dark walls to foreground bush leaves and how the dark shapes throughout pull the whole painting together…

You may be wondering why the title of this post has the words “and then some.” My daughter and three of her medical and dental school friends are biking 40-60 miles a day over sixteen days around lower New England to raise funds for The Hospital for Special Care and specifically for their Adaptive Sports Program, which “empowers individuals with physical disabilities to play sports and participate in recreational activities.” The girls’ original goal was to bike across the country as “Coast2Coast For A Cause” from Washington State to Connecticut, but the Covid shutdown altered their plans. Now they’re using the moniker “House2House For A Cause.” To follow their adventures via their blog or to contribute to their fundraising efforts, see http://coast2coast2020.travel.blog.

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