If you are going to paint a triangle shape what better one than a Pyramid of Giza. This is a fantastic painting to complete and involves a wide range of techniques, skills and thought. The initial accurate line drawing is key for the geometrical shapes: if you do not get the angles correct the pyramids are not pyramid like. Populating a painting gives the surrounding landscape scale: the riders and camels are crucial to this scene to make the viewer understand the enormity of the shapes on the horizon line.
The Sky: The is a graded wash with moving clouds. Graded wash: have your wash ready (not very watery – more paint than water) and test this on a swatch before applying to the paper, I used a mix of two blues, I like mixing my own blues, you can make some wonderful blue colours by experimenting using different blues. Have a large hake or other large chisel brush ready. Wet the paper, once only. Load your brush with as much of the wash as possible. Lay your first brush stroke at the top of the paper and work downwards until you reach the horizon line: work around the shapes, a large brush makes this task possible. For the moving clouds there are a range of techniques you could employ: have a wash of greys ready and apply to the cloud area: use a tissue twist the lift off colour, the pressure you apply to the paper should be varied to get the largest range of tone possible. Or use a sponge to make the cloud shapes. The other technique is to use a brush to make the cloud shapes: practice these three techniques on a swatch before you use on the painting to decide which technique to use.
The Pyramids: The Palette: lemon yellow, yellow ochre, flesh tint, brown (mix your own purple and add differing amounts of yellow ochre). Work from light to dark, applying your light yellow and then whilst the paper is damp apply the other colours in order of light to dark. Use a round headed brush to make stipple marks or a chisel brush to suggest the lines of the stones. Paint in the darks of the shadows using your purple/brown mix.
The Terrain: Use the colours you used on the pyramids in exactly the same order. Vary the colours slightly by adding more or less of the yellows. Put in the shadows cast by the camels whilst the paper is damp, using a brown or purple.
Camels and Riders: Paint the camels first, I used a flesh tint and then overpainted with a purple/brown. Use primary and secondary colours for the riders, you need to really bring these alive with bright colour. Make sure the legs of the camels are bent and long so they give the impression of movement.
Stand back and evaluate your work at various stages of this painting.
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