Art / Design / Drawing / Painting

Lefka Ori

Lefka Ori (Λευκά Όρη) means “White Mountains”, and it is the name of the amazing mountain range on the west side of Crete, Greece. In 2013, David and I went there on our honeymoon in November, and we had a great time. It was over 20 degrees Celsius, so it was a welcome change from the cold autumn weather in The Netherlands.

I have made some nice photographs there, and today I have tried to paint one of them with watercolour. I finally used some “real” watercolour paper (Søstrene Grene 160g) in A4 size, and properly taped it unto my drawing board. I started with the sky, first wetting the paper, then adding paint, making sure that I left empty space for the clouds. I painted the faraway mountain range from back to front (making the mountains darker when they were closer). Then I added in an undercoat of green where there would be greens.

I realized by that time that I’m quite impatient when painting, I wanted to continue and fill in the clouds, but the sky was not dry enough yet. So I had to wait a bit and in the meantime I started adding some more texture to the mountains and the greens. When the sky was dry enough, I added white to the clouds, letting it mix with the partly wet blue in places to create softer edges.

The next bit was more challenging. Getting the details right, while working from light to dark. The houses were particularly difficult, also because I seemed unable to draw straight lines with my brushes. The green area in the left front was also tricky (there were all kinds of plants, but they were all only partly visible). I made mistakes and fixed them as well as I could. I even accidentally had to add an extra mountain when I managed to use way too much water when trying to add some highlights…

But in the end I ended up with a painting that, while not great in the details, still conveys the crisp, bright colours and atmosphere of the view from Kaina towards the Lefka Ori. I did do some things different from the photograph (I don’t want to be a copy machine), among which the colouring: in the photograph the colours are a bit warmer, but I like this better.

Lefka Ori as seen from Kaina, Crete (A4 watercolour paper)
Lefka Ori as seen from Kaina, Crete (A4 watercolour paper)

I actually may need different paper. I don’t like the relief this one has. Especially in the sky you can clearly see the pattern of it. This was so much better than my other paper, though. Makes it way more fun to paint, even though it’s hard.

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