Loved & Learned: Koblie Blume’s Wilderness Watercolor Landscapes Chapter 3: Trees

I’m working my way through Kolbie Blume’s tutorial book, Wilderness Watercolor Landscapes. Previously, I did the chapters on skies and mountains. Here’s all my work on the chapter on trees.

Autumn Misty Pines

February 26, 2022 

Paper: Hahnemuhle “Burgund” 250gsm cold press

Colors: 

  • Background & pines: Quin Gold, Pyrrol Scarlet, Transparent Red Oxide
  • Foreground leaves: Mixed a scarlet from DS Bordeaux and Pyrrol Scarlet. Purple leaves are Quin Purple. 

Loved: 

  • Vibrant colors
  • “Receding into mist” effect
  • Bold semi-opaque scarlet made from DS Bordeaux and Pyrrol Scarlet. With those two, do I even need a mid red??!

Learned: 

  • It’s a lot easier to commit to a small painting than a big one! When in doubt, cut the paper in half. 
  • Calligraphic leaf shapes are extremely difficult for me
  • Making all the leaves go to the same way looks artificial and stylized; more chaotic crisscrosses would have looked more realistic.
  • I sort of phoned in the trees and you can tell. 

A Study in Trees

February 26, 2022

Paper: Hahnemuhle “Burgund” 250gsm cold press

Colors: 

  • Background: Prussian Blue, Quin Coral, Lemon Yellow
  • Background trees: Prussian Blue, Perylene Green
  • Foreground tree: Transparent Brown Oxide, Perylene Green, Neutral Tint, Rich Green Gold

Loved:

  • Vibrant luminous sunset sky colors, including visible strokes which look like long cirrus clouds
  • Light & shadow on the tree trunk
  • Abstract leaf clusters

Learned: 

  • Keep going! I almost gave up on this one after the sky background had some weird blooms and messes in it, but I perservered, and I’m glad I did. In the end I just covered up the mistakes with the foreground tree and now the sky is my favorite part. 
  • I’m always nervous about deviating from the tutorial but I usually like what I did, even if it’s really different. I can still call it “doing the tutorial” if it was inspired by/something I wouldn’t have created otherwise.
  • Needs more contrast under the background trees; the anemic wash of shadow/reflection just grays it out.

Magical Snowy Forest

March 19, 2022

Paper: Hahenmuhle “Leonardo” 600gsm rough 100% cotton rag (cut in half) 

Colors: 

  • Payne’s Gray
  • Indanthrone Blue
  • Phthalo Green Blue Shade
  • Hansa Yellow Medium
  • WN white gouache

Loved:

  • Happy tree shapes
  • Value contrast; glowing lights and dark darks
  • Cut in shadows under the snow on the boughs

Learned: 

  • The white gouache isn’t really opaque enough to handle layering on top of black (at least this kind isn’t), so it’s better to at least attempt to leave the whites and use gouache as a fallback. I left the whites in the milky way, which was more effective.
  • Hansa Yellow Medium is too bold and “yellowy” for a good Northern Lights color. Using Lemon Yellow would have worked better in this case. 
  • I didn’t like the gray-green that resulted from mixing Payne’s Gray into the sky. I think I would have preferred to use a straight Indanthrone Blue there, or even Prussian Blue, for a cleaner green mix. 

Walk Through the Wood

March 29, 2022

Paper: Hahenmuhle “Leonardo” 600gsm rough 100% cotton rag (other half) 

Colors: 

  • Perylene Green
  • Transparent Brown Oxide
  • Transparent Pyrrol Orange
  • Quinacridone Gold

Loved:

  • Although the overall mood is dark and moody, there is a distinct area of lightness that adds depth and draws the eye in. 
  • The technique of making some of the background trees orange where the sun hits them – stolen from some recent insta’s I’ve been following! 
  • The angle and slenderness of the foreground branches. 

Learned: 

  • Use a smaller brush for tree shapes in background to avoid them being too thick. 
  • Fewer and/or lighter small trees on the bottom right would probably have looked less busy. 
  • It was wayyyy too easy to make tree branches “samey” – evenly spaced, equally long, equally branching – and surprisingly difficult to introduce randomness. 

Aspens at Dawn

April 3, 2022

Colors: I didn’t really keep track and used a lot of them! I think:

  • Sky: WN Permanent Rose, WN Winsor Yellow
  • Mountain: DS Indanthrone Blue, DS Neutral Tint (plus WN white gouache)
  • Aspens: DS Neutral Tint
  • Ground: Wild mix of DV Burnt Sienna Deep, DV Alizarin Crimson Quinacridone, DS Transparent Brown Oxide, DS Quinacridone Burnt Sienna, DS Quinacridone Gold

Loved: 

  • Using masking tape for the aspens was helpful because it let me focus on the background first, without worrying about “matching up” the different sides. It’s hard to make multiple identical gradients but easy to make one big one. 
  • Sense of depth from different tree sizes and heights.
  • Intense sunset pink-to-yellow gradient.
  • Intense fall leaves mix on the forest floor.
  • Mist. 

Learned: 

  • Trying to do the aspen details too wet-on-wet led to chaos.
  • My white gouache is too thin, either due to the actual material or the way I’m using it (letting it dry on the palette like a watercolor). I can’t get those crisp whites I’m after. I should try another brand or use it from the the tube instead of drying and rewetting. 
  • Deciding on a light source would have helped me give more consistent dimension to the trees.
  • Sort of wish I had just left out the background trees instead of half-assing them.

Book closed on trees! (Dusts off hands) Next up is a chapter on flowers, then a concluding chapter of putting all the elements together. And then it’s onto Koblie’s next book on Seascapes!

1 thought on “Loved & Learned: Koblie Blume’s Wilderness Watercolor Landscapes Chapter 3: Trees”

  1. I grabbed a copy of K Blume’s new Seascapes book a month ago to see what you were talking about with Blume’s online courses. The newest book was easier to find and painting beaches is pretty relaxing when stuck indoors over winter.

    I’ve read through the book a few times but still have to finish another one and some swatching first.

    Hopefully I catch up with you XD

    Reply

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