Blue shadows (an exercise with masking fluid)
I have painted this with French ultramarine and burnt sienna, if you want to use another blue and brown it is OK. Choose a blue and brown that mixed with each other gives a black (neutral) mixture.
The first thing you should do in the painting is to mask all the grass with masking fluid. To make these narrow enough, I recommend that you use a dip pen for the job. With a brush, it becomes difficult to get the same narrowness on all straws. Make long straws next to the trees, up on the small hill, and make short straws out in the field in front. There are many straws in the photo (hundreds) so draw many straws with masking fluid.
When all the grass is masked and dry, it’s time to start painting. Use your blue color. Dilute the paint differently depending on what you are painting, e.g. The long shadows on the left are lighter than those on the hill behind.
When the blue paint has dried, use the dip pen with the masking fluid again. Draw some straws in the blue fields. Both up on the small hill in front of the trees and in the field down to the left. Some of the straws are in the sunshine and white (the first ones you masked) others are in shade and blue.
When this is done paint a sky, start with diluted blue paint at the top and switch to light brown paint at the bottom of the sky. Paint fluently, no brushstrokes should be visible in the finished sky. Then paint at the far left of the picture only hinted bluish trees at a distance, straight bottom edge and a little more tree-shaped top edge. Also paint the house on the right in the picture, keep in mind that there is snow on the roof, a blue underpainting on the roof helps with this.
Now the trees are to be painted, it takes time with all these branches. Use a dark brown color mixed with blue and brown. It should not be clearly brown, just almost. If you want, you can do some structure in the field behind the trees, this must be done before the trees. If you like to use dip pen for watercolor paint, this is a great opportunity. Use it for all smaller branches. If you do not like the dip pen, use a small brush instead.
Before removing the masking fluid from all the straws, you can take the opportunity to paint shadows on them. The small straws in front of the trees are sometimes against a white background, they will not be visible when the mask is removed, therefore paint shadows on all the left sides of the straws, I know this is a time consuming project, but something that must be done.
Remove the masking fluid by “rolling” it off with your fingers, be careful, all masking should be removed. Then you can refine details in the image if needed, More shadows on the straws, more branches, a little finesse here and there. When you judge that the painting is finished, it is finished.