This week, I wanted to learn to paint grass. I felt like it was a natural progression from painting clouds, as together, they can create a full painting. However, once I started looking for tutorials, I was overwhelmed with how many different ways there was to do it, and with each producing a very unique look. Some were very detailed, others worked to create more of an impression of grass, and still others were somewhere in-between.
After becoming thoroughly unsure of what to do, I decided to look for apps rather than videos or blogs, at least for a way to get started.
The first app I found seemed to pull various painting tutorials from YouTube, sorting them into categories, while also minimizing the overall amount of content you are exposed to. I found this very helpful to get started, and it would be a great app for beginner painters who don’t know where to start. My only complaints are that some of the videos weren’t the best quality, and the same filtered exposure that helped at first also limited how many styles I could try. Overall, if you’re just looking for a few things to try out, but are overwhelmed with the vast amount of content online, this app would be a good place to start.
The second app I found, “Sketch a Day,” is by far my favorite. Its tutorials are not just pulled straight from YouTube, but are created by users of the app all over the world, allowing you to be exposed to multiple techniques and styles, while also finding something different from what a simple search in YouTube would turn up. They also have daily challenges, which are usually a simple word. You then paint, draw, or otherwise create your impression of the word and can upload a photo to share with the rest of the community. If you’re struggling to decide what to do but are in a creative mood, this helps a lot, and makes you think in a different way. I’m still exploring all the features, but am loving it so far.
Outside of these apps, I still used a few other sources as well. To start, I tried using a fan brush, following this tutorial. I chose the fan brush first, as it is what my dad generally uses in his paintings to depict grasses. I found it was very difficult to get the right strokes though, and more often than not, the paint would simply go on in a straight green mass, no matter what I did. The jabbing upwards motion and using the tips to create short, stubbly looking grasses worked a little better, but still wasn’t my favorite. Maybe I just need more practice, but I’m not completely sold on this technique.
Next, I tried the idea of “painting masses, not grasses,” and while it didn’t work great on the paper, it did work on my canvas when I decided to use this technique again (I’m thinking this might be the same issue with the other ones as well). I liked how loose it made the painting look, and how it captured more of the feeling (such as the wind blowing through it, how the sun catches different parts of it, etc.), so I figured I would try again on my painting for the week.
I also decided to do my own painting this week, as I enjoy painting places I’ve been, want to go, or otherwise feel a connection to. I feel I can do them more justice (again, in being able to capture the feeling of the place, not just how it looked), making them more than some paint splattered on a canvas. After much searching though, I hadn’t found anything that particularly struck me. So I started thinking broader, and decided on the grain elevators in Three Hills Alberta. My dad spent a large portion of his childhood here, and would run past these bins everyday (plus he loves old grain elevators, so I can give it to him!). Even though I’ve never personally been here, I feel a greater connection to it than to my last painting.
I again used the sponge technique for the clouds, as it let me make a very whispy look in the background, then paint some heavier clouds in front. I kept my colour pallet a lot more limited than last time, using only ultramarine blue, burnt sienna, yellow ochre, and titanium white, mixing them to get the other colours I needed. I’m still not overly thrilled with my grass, but I’ve started to get a feel for it.
As for my larger painting that I blogged about a couple days ago, I’m still working to finish the grass and hills. I took it as far as I could without yet adding in the bison, as I realized partway through that I would need to have them finished before I can finish the grass (their shadows will change the colours of the grass behind them, and some grass will need to be painted over their hooves and sides where they are laying down).
I tried again to do a hyperlapse of me painting, and was planning to do it in several, shorter takes. However, I started the second segment and got so involved in actually painting that I forgot about the video completely, making me lose it once again. For next week, I just discovered that you are able to upload videos you took on your phone, so I will try that instead. It also went sideways for some strange reason, and would not let me rotate it. I did learn how to add music to a video in the YouTube editor, so that should make my future videos more enjoying!
Video aside, I think I’m going to try to make the grass a little more detailed than in my grain elevator painting. I really like how Chuck Black’s grass looked and would like to mimic his technique in this painting. I won’t be able to go quite as detailed, as my landscape is taken from farther away, but I can definitely go more detailed in some sections.
But I digress. Here’s what I was able to accomplish this week on my project:
If you have any questions, tips, or anything else, feel free to ask in the comments!