Exercise – Bicycle tracks

Bicycle tracks

This is an exercise that is both simple and difficult at the same time. If you have a good drawing as a basis, you can paint this easily in a free style. But if you are extremely careful and fixated on details, the exercise is difficult no matter how good a drawing you have.

Bicycle tracks photo
The motif may call for accuracy, but it should be painted quickly

When painting in a free style, it is important how you hold your brush. You should not hold it like a pencil, this way you can hold the brush when painting with precision. You should avoid it in this painting. You should paint much freer, a wrong line and a missed goal is just fine.

I know that this is very difficult for most people, to relax and be free, let the brush wander over the paper and the colors can behave as they want. But at the same time it is the charm of watercolor. You appreciate it when you see such a painting, now you have to do it yourself, even if it goes against your inner need for control.

Try to hold your paintbrush high up on the shaft, then you may not be as careful. It also encourages painting with the whole arm instead of just with the fingers and wrist, which is good. You should always try to use the whole arm when painting, the wrist and fingers are for writing with, the arm is for painting with.

This is how you can hold a brush when you paint carefully
This is how you can hold a brush when you paint carefully
A better way to hold the brush when painting freely
A better way to hold the brush when painting freely
A better way to hold the brush when painting freely
Or like this…

It may be difficult for you to paint that way, but try. The result will be better

For this painting, four different colors will be used, French ultramarine, burnt sienna forms the basis. If you do not have those colors, buy them! They must be included in all color boxes. In addition to these, you need a red and yellow color, it works with any red and yellow.

Bicycle tracks step 1
The background and the ground are painted fairly freely, avoid accuracy

Start by painting blue and red in the “sky” behind the trees, feel free to paint so that different colors and color mixtures flow together on the paper. Save the trees but only approximately, avoid accuracy, Keep in mind, however, that the branches are thinner at the tops than further down towards the trunk. The blue color should be mixed with a little brown, then it is not so pure blue. Then paint some bluish tones over the ground, darker in the foreground than in the background. Let dry.

Bicycle tracks step 2
A sloppy painted house and some trees

When the “sky” has dried, it is time to paint a house (burnt sienna) and some flat painted trees in the background. Feel free to paint a surface for the hedge on the right side and the fence on the left, it should be painted in a simple way, no details, paint flat.

Mix French ultramarine and burnt sienna to a black color, or at least a dark gray. Paint tree trunks and the larger branches. Avoid painting “soft” branches, they should be a little jerky, not straight or slightly curved, but just a little jerky. Do not forget to save all the snow on the trees.

Bicycle tracks step 3
Tree trunks

On the ground there are a lot of tracks from bicycles (the picture is from Lund, all people use bicycles in Lund). The tracks are painted with a black color mixed with French ultramarine and burnt sienna. No accuracy, each track should be painted with a squiggly brush stroke. Think about the perspective, so that the tracks are thinner in the background and wider in the foreground.

Bicycle tracks step 4
Bicycle tracks

Now all that remains is to fill in the trees with a lot of small branches. There should be many, the more the better! Try to paint the picture quickly, this type of painting only gets worse with too much accuracy.

Bicycle tracks step 5
The finished painting
See, how carelessly and quickly the house is painted
Detail of tracks in the snow

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Mr. S.
3 years ago

you don’t mention masking fluid, so the wash must be very light and at the same time one must try and avoid painting the trees with such a wash, right? As always, the Brunt Sienna you suggest, is PR 101 instead of PBR 42. Nice exercise

Mr. S.
Reply to  Erik
3 years ago

Actually the term exists in English with the same meaning as well “paint the trees save the trees” which means « except » in this case.

Mr. S.
Reply to  Mr. S.
3 years ago

Sorry, I meant to say «  paint everything save the trees » or « paint everything except the trees »

Mr. S.
Reply to  Erik
3 years ago

Isn’t burnt Sienna a brown pigment? (except W&N and burnt Sienna Deep from Da Vinci which are Pr101). I meant PBR7

Last edited 3 years ago by Mr. S.
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