Skip navigation

 the start

Today I selected a spot right next to the shoreline of the pond and decided to try to render and paint the cat tails and aome interesting trees that looked like lime-green cotton candy.  I drew a simple line drawing and masked out the cat tails and the dead wood that I saw.  I next rendered the dainty trees I wanted to feature as well as the tufts of foreground trees to either side of these.

 2nd steps

I then ran a wash of the foreground pond reflections, painted the background trees wet-in-wet, dropping in salt as I went. Before I darkened the underside of the trees I masked some abstract marks in over the green washes where I painted in the deep darks. I painted in the light wash between the woods and foreground and placed the shadow I saw to the left. These were quick light washes.

 3rd steps

I then concentrated on the bank and defined the reflections in the water. I had to mask the foliage reflections in the water. I realised I had used analagous colors of yellow, blue and green, predominantly. I chose a red (burnt sienna) to help define the far bank and enhance the darks.  I chose this color because it went with what I was seeing on the bank and was a compliment to the greens. I then washed back over the reflections in the water. I then removed the masking and salt.  All of the above work was done plein air or on-site. This took me about four hours.

 final painting

To finish the painting, I handpainted, with a fine brush, the details of the cat tails, deadwood and tree trunks. I scratched out limbs on the dead wood with a pointed scratch tool. I darkened some of the trees in the background as well as fed some darks in and around the base of the cat tails and along the bank. I washed in some light washes of greens and burnt sienna and yellow over the foliage in the background darks.


  1. This is stunningly beautiful. Every time you venture out you become more visually fluent and your works seems freer and richer. I am totally in love with this painting!

    • You don’t know how much your first comment of liking the freeness of this does for me. I don’t even know what possessed me to grab the salt and frisket other than I was intrigued with the light cat tail stalks and the deadwood and one thing led to the other. Thanks, again, Kirsty! 🙂

  2. I am really enjoying seeing the development of your paintings. With this one, I find such beauty in each of the stages. I love the abstraction of the first photo – that one on its own would have been a great painting, in my opinion, yet as you’ve added the layers, the painting has become so much richer and deeper. Lovely work!

    • Hi jackie! You mean you like the one with the white background? I would guess that would be interesting in acrylic on canvas. Thank-you for your kind comment on this because I felt this one leaned toward the abstract a little more than most of my paintings do.

  3. The colors is really rich and somewhat calm. The more i look at the painting the more i’m into it. Great effect. Honestly i think it’s a complex painting and i can’t imagine you pull it off in 4 hrs. Thanks for sharing.

    • Hi Francis. I didn’t pull it off in four hours, for sure. My time outdoors was four hours. I got through stage 3 in four hours outdoors. The little lines and finishing up took another 3 hours because it was tedious work with a little tiny brush and a scratch tool. Add on thinking time and it’s a full day’s work. Your saying the more you look at it, the more you’re into it? I had the same feeling. I don’t usually paint with this kind of energy in a painting. I don’t know where this came from. Thanks a bunch! 🙂

  4. This painting is worth every minute you spent on it!! I was amazed by the abstract feel of the first one – which I like on it’s own by the way – and with each addition, I was more floored!

    The instant I saw the white of the paper beneath the masking fluid on the cattails, I gasped!!! This painting has so much drama and is full of such striking elements, that all together, it causes quite a stir!

    And yes, this painting displays a lot of your energy. I absolutely love it. I want to go plein air paint…. when it’s not 100 degrees outside.

    • WOW. Thank-you for this comment, Beth. This painting was touch and go from the start. I don’t think I have ever let myself go so much with the techniques. I think it is interesting that both you and Jackie commented about that first one. I think it is both of your eyes for acrylic because you can paint in a white background. The white of the paper is too unfinished and you both have my mind swirling as to whether something like that composition would work had I toned the white, lightly. Interesting thought.
      Have you ever masked a painting and just can’t wait to get that stuff off and see what you are left with? That’s the way this image was with me. Once I removed it, I said, “Oh, cool. Now what am I going to do?” LOL 🙂
      I let this painting pretty much happen.Doubt that it will happen like this very frequently, but I can hope!
      100 degrees, still? I guess we are moving into August the heat month, but you would think you’d getalittle reprieve here and there. I am going to thank my lucky stars we are in the 80s for a couple days again. Maybe this fall you can get outside and paint? I don’t and won’t paint outdoors in 90’s.

  5. I love these sequential paintings Leslie – they show step by step your mind frame and the intelligence behind each step! Quite wonderful to share all this with everyone Leslie!

    • Thank-you, Lynda! I am hoping that by sharing these images, once in awhile, that others might be able to explore a similar approach if they choose to. So much still relys on how the paint is applied and in what concentrations. I am also hoping that it passes on the spirit of exploration we artists seem to go thru? Try as I might to emulate someone’s style, I cannot. BUT, I can follow someone’s process and come up with a totally unique painting of my own. That human elemant to art is what is so fascinating. That is why I continue to feed off your posts because you find such scrumptious artists and techniques!

  6. Extremely bold and pushing the limits of en plein air painting!

  7. Leslie- I like looking at the progression of your piece from first to last and then in reverse- almost like one looked at early cartoons, one page at a time.
    What works so well is that even by step two, you had a finished painting with all of the compositional aspects worked out, the lights and darks and the suggestions of the landscape. I loved it even from that point.
    Reading and seeing your progressive steps makes it even more terrific to view.

    • Thank-you, Bonnie. Even though it looks like it may be close to a finished painting, like you said, do you ever feel like something is missing? I think that is why I have trouble finishing anything on site. This painting was a surprise, even to me, as I am not real good with abstract. Thank-you for the comment!!!!

  8. I really like this.
    Particularly the way you showed the individual stagess

  9. Leslie, this is magnificent! Thank you for telling us your steps. The sky and water are spectacular. I love the overall abstract quality of this painting.

    • Wow. Thank-you, Carol! Did I paint a sky? After reading your comment, I took another look at this painting and it could be! I do think it has an abstract feel to it. Wish I could pull something like this off more often. I thank you for opening my eyes to all possibilities! 🙂

  10. I love it! And I’m jealous that it only took you four hours. Then again, a photograph to capture–or not–only takes a few seconds. Hm.
    Still, oh what a cooling image on a hot night here. Thank you, Leslie.

    • You don’t have to be jealous anymore. It took 4 hours on site another 3, at home, to finish it. Thank-you, Eva! Maybe the heat is what brought on my desire to work with cool and refreshing colors.

      • Oh so 7 hours–well, I’m feeling less jealous, Leslie. LOL.

  11. Very cool image. Even cooler are the processes and tools behind it. This was definitely 4 hours well spent.

  12. This is crazy crazy 🙂 You have madd skillz 🙂

    • Thank-you, Alonso. You are so supportive and it helps! I agree with you on the “crazy crazy” with this one. I have no idea why I took this piece where I did, but it was fun!

  13. I absolutely love the masking and salt effects. I really want to explore these techniques more fully–I feel that I am just starting to get into them.

    • I did get carried away, David. 🙂 It is funny that you should say this. I think it has actually been my viewing of your masking and pouring that caused me to even think about the masking, here. I have tried to pour and I just am horrid at that. I also have studied where you have added salt in your paintings and liked that. I think we are feeding inspiration both ways.

  14. Love the color blends in this one, Leslie. The reflections look outstanding too.

    • Thank-you, Adam! I got a little carried away, didn’t I? Wonder if I’ll ever be able to do something like this again. 🙂

  15. you’ve got it. the “it” of soulful color flowing from painting to the viewer in ways healing. i always feel i’ve had this great washing cleanse of life and hope when i look at your latest. these greens just wow me. so wonderful!

    • How do I ever do this again, though!?! This was truly “the moment” and the excitement of trying to push those little puffy trees forward by being kind of “funky” with all else. I appreciate your comment because this painting took itself over. Thank-you!

  16. Wow – look at all those textures – I love this

    • Hi Stephen. Thank-you about the textures. I kind of got lost in the experience of this one as I am sure you could identify with because of my relying on whatever the salt and the frisket brought forth. It was fun!

  17. i found this painting magical. the colors are rich and reminiscent of my young gameboard backgrounds of gunbound. yes, i am a videogame fanatic too. i loved your paintings leslie, there is the lightness i feel, which gives me inner calm. i like what i feel about them. all the best to you.

    • Thank-you, Marvin. I am glad the calm translates through in these. It is very calming to paint on this property with all the nature sounds around me.

  18. Very effective, intense and interesting…all these greens ! Superbe !

    • Thank-you, Isabelle. You know?, this is my favorite done on site, so far. I think it was because I felt a part of the painting with all that I was doing with it. It was more like an expression of what I saw and how it made me feel. It was very freeing. 🙂

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: