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Hi friends! Let's chat about painting grass. I'm a bit of a compulsive grass painter - it ends up in almost all of my paintings, whether I plan for it to be there or not! It can be a very meditative subject to paint, as can anything that requires repeated mark-making. Come to think of it, I believe that a relaxed attitude is just what is required when painting this type of subject. I definitely do not scrutinize a detailed reference photo when painting grasses! However, it could be useful to take a good long look at some grasses in the wild or in photographs before you begin painting. Make some observations about how grass behaves, and you will have lots of fuel to begin the creative process!
These are two enlarged crops taken from the painting I just finished last week. If you missed it, there should still be exclusive subscriber stories available on my profile page, so go have a look!
Some things to think about before I offer my tips: When learning to paint anything, I think it's important to remember that there isn't only one way to do it. Following a step-by-step set of instructions is a sure way to make a boring painting. We will all paint grass in our own unique and interesting way if we are seeking wonder in the process. Experiment! Enjoy yourself! This is how we develop our unique skills and techniques. Secondly, I highly recommend that you get clear with your intentions. What is it that you want to illustrate with the grass you paint? Is it helping to direct the eye to a certain point in the painting? Is it setting the mood? Is it a supporting element to a more important feature? Do you want it to appear in movement, or is it still? Is it alive or dead? You get the idea.
Here’s my big tip:
If you want to try painting grass as I have done in these images, I have one word that I want you to keep in mind: VARIETY.
Vary your marks. Consider varying mark placement, or where the mark begins and where it ends, what direction it bends, and how thick it is. If you make the same marks in the same direction and the same distance from one another, the results will be very different than you see here.
Vary your method of application. In the horizontal detail image of painted grass above, some of my grassy lines have been scratched into wet paint rather than painted. Can you find them?
Vary the colours you use, remembering that warm colours tend to come forward optically and cooler colours recede. Layering warm and cool colours will help your grass seem thicker.
Varying the opacity of paint will help with this as well. Layers of translucent glaze with opaque blades of grass will help create nuanced light and shadow.
Vary the values within the grass. If your grass is all in the same mid-tone value, it may appear flat. The light reflects off some parts of the grass and not others - consider this when choosing values.
And lastly, vary the overall shape of the grass. If all your clumps of grass within the composition are the same shape and size, you will lose the illusion of perspective, and the grass won’t appear as ‘natural.’ Of course, if you intend to make a painting where the perspective is skewed, and the grass looks unnatural, then, by all means, follow your intentions!
The brushes above are a few that I like using to paint the style of grass shown. The first is called a dagger striper (which is very fun to use), followed by an angled brush, and finally, a script liner. Although these tend to be my favourites lately, I have used just about any and all of my paint brushes to paint grasses!
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Thanks for stopping by to read the blog! Here's B and my 2024 wall calendar, which is available for pre-order only, now until November 5th.
- Jen & B