Jade Franson is a unique painter in the modern day because she does quick miniature sketches in gouache, but her ideas are inspired by 19th-century landscape painters who worked in oil on a large scale!
The combination of modern sketchbook speed and 19th-century style is so classy, and Jade teaches it so well in her FREE Demo. Let’s recreate her painting to see how it works.
She uses Arteza gouache in her painting, and I will use Holbein. Some of Holbein’s gouache dries permanently, but I will use the traditional kind you can rewet.
Step 1: The Furthest Sky
You don’t have to do much sketching for gouache paintings because the paint is opaque and will cover up your lines, so you can’t use them. If it helps you, you can indicate the placement of the clouds and horizon line, which is what I did for myself, but you really don’t have to.
Next, start painting the sky a dark blue at the top, and while that’s still wet, let it gradually blend into a light blue. Jade had these colours premixed in her Arteza set, and I mixed them myself with ultramarine, burnt sienna, and white.
Step 2: Defining the Clouds
For now, we are leaving the whitest part of the cloud blank. Take a very deep blue (or ultramarine/burnt sienna mixture) and paint in the underside of the clouds.
Did you know that the undersides of big clouds are darker than the sky? It’s true. Resume the regular sky colour underneath the dark section of the cloud and then add some darkness under that. It will look funny now, but the process will turn out well.
Step 3: Blending it In
If you’re following along at home with acrylic gouache that can’t be rewet, this stage might have to be tackled differently. With traditional gouache, you can rewet different areas to blend them together.
Just don’t use too much water, or you’ll strip the paint off the page. It does help to have some paint on the brush too. You might have to layer a few times with both colours to get the gradient you want.
In this case, it’s good for the gradient to be messy so that it looks organic.
Step 4: More Dimension and Detail
To really get that sunset look, add some bubblegum pink into the clouds right below the white section. The purplish-blue and the pink together will definitely give that evening vibe.
Next, take a desaturated dark green mixture and block it in the ground. This part might be a little intimidating, but strong contrast is the way to get a good composition.
Step 5: Finishing the Landscape
The parts of this painting involving the ground are a bit more challenging than the rest because you have to mix a realistic green and consider atmospheric perspective.
Remember that green will be close to grey, especially in a sunset. I mixed a few yellows and blues together with burnt sienna, and when I needed a darker shade than my organic style mixtures could get, I added a sparing amount of black paint.
Usually, you don’t want to use black paint for natural scenes because pitch black drains the natural colour out of a paint mixture, but if you know what you’re doing and you can’t avoid using it, then it’s totally fine.
Once again, you’ll want to make the gradients a bit rough for this section because it needs to have texture. When you make your shadow lines and areas with darker foliage, make sure not to make any lines down the middle of the area because it won't be visually interesting if the picture is too symmetrical.
Drawing small details like trees can be really hard with the traditional gouache that can reactivate when wet. Remember not to paint on the trunk until the foliage has fully dried, and load your brush with thick paint that won’t get the layer underneath it soggy.
It takes patience and might take a few tries, but the result looking real will be worth it.
In the end, step back from your painting and make any adjustments you feel are necessary to make the whole thing flow together. The details in the foreground will be darker, sharper, and finer than the details in the background, but since this is an Impressionist style, there won’t be too many fine details.
If this project was as aesthetically pleasing to you as it was to me, it’s definitely worth checking out Jade’s 90-minute art class!
Want to learn more about painting with gouache? Check out our Introduction to Gouache Series!
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