Imaginary Forest

Today’s watercolor experiment:

I tried to apply what I learned in yesterday’s Purple Woods for another take at depicting a number of trees receding from the foreground. Like yesterday, I only used two colors (except for the fox): permanent mauve and aureolin yellow. The principle to which I tried to adhere  in today’s composition is the gradual shading from pure permanent mauve to aureolin yellow. Since purple and yellow are complements, the midpoint of values between them should be a neutral gray. The particular colors I chose do not yield a gray, but rather a brownish tint, indicating that my chosen colors are not true complements. However, the brownish color works for this composition.

Watercolor: Imaginary Forest using Purple and Yellow with Red Fox

Imaginary Forest
9″x12″ 140# Cold Pressed Watercolor Block


Yesterday, I began by outlining the foreground tree figures with purple (mauve). Today I used undiluted mauve for the trunk in the foreground. Before I addressed the trees in the mid-ground, I created a light brown wash. My plan was create a background that was consistent across a horizontal sweep. I used this wash to color the space between the background trees. With creative tilting of the paper, I tried to get a variegated wash ranging from brown at the bottom to yellow at the top.

I painted the shadows in the foreground with mauve and those further away with more yellow in the mix.

My wife loves foxes, so I put one in, behind a tree.  When I looked at the entire composition, I was stunned for a moment. Horrified…  There seemed to be two light sources. There were two ways of resolving this: 1) pretend I was on a planet where there were two suns that provided the additional light source; or 2) make the brighter spot on the horizon a terminus of a road. I chose the second option. The faint suggestion of a road in the background turned into a ruddy bumpy road that interrupted the shadows of the trees from the sole light source, the sun of our solar system.


I like this composition. It makes me want to try another gathering of trees with a more well-rounded palette.

6 thoughts on “Imaginary Forest

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