Painting Grass

Q. How do you paint different types of grasses?

A. Painting grasses can be mind boggling for a beginner. When you paint your first grass, it’s natural to feel inclined to put in every blade of grass. The result will be a certain stiffness, with each blade the same size, the same color, and the same distance apart. It looks boring. Grasses that look too perfect also tend to draw your attention away from a painting’s focal point.

To keep from becoming so engrossed in the thousands of blades of grass that you forget about the rest of the painting, try squinting when looking at the grass. This will shut your left brain off and let your right brain—the creative side—take over. What do you see? You should see less detail. Transfer that to your work and your painting will say more. Look below for some samples of how to make different grasses using this method.

A. For a softer look, first paint interesting shapes for your grasses, leaving some white of the paper. Then use a small spray bottle to mist one or two spritzes of water on the grasses.

B. For an interesting texture, first paint interesting shapes for your grasses, and while still wet, sprinkle some kosher salt on the wet paint. You need quite a bit of paint on the paper to pull this off. The paint resists the salt and creates the texture.

C. To create highlights and use value and form, first paint in a field of grass with smooth brushstrokes. While the field is still damp (not wet), lift off some of the green paint with your brush, highlighting your lighter areas and giving the fields value and form.

D. To create varying shapes and sizes of grass, use an expired credit card cut in half along the diagonal. First paint interesting shapes for your grasses, then with the sharp corner of the credit card, pull the paint up from the grass into the sky, varying the shapes and sizes of the blades of grass.

Catherine Anderson is a signature member of the National Watercolor Society, Watercolor West and the Rocky Mountain National Watermedia Society. Visit her Web site at www.catherineanderson.net.

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