Well, not literally, but a painting of the Eiger anyway! This was a simple study that I did with one of my students who comes to the studio for one to one tuition. She had painted a mountain view in oils and I thought it would be nice to tackle a similar subject in watercolour. I had a photo of a Swiss train running on a line beneath the huge bulk of the Eiger, so we used that as a reference but left the train out and substituted a skier, or maybe someone snowshoeing, anyway a distant figure. This can be a great way of showing scale in a simple landscape painting, with the mountains towering above.
The painting itself is actually deceptively simple, there are several stages to it, building up texture and tone on the mountains and the foreground. The main colour used is Prussian Blue, which is very transparent, allowing previously painted features to show through the washes. As someone once said, it’s like painting with coloured sheets of glass. The blue was modified in some of the washes to make various greys, adding a little Burnt Sienna and Quinacridone Red to the Prussian Blue.
Probably the trickiest part of the painting was the first wash, the sky. To get a completely even wash requires several things. Plenty of watery paint, a large brush (I used a 1 inch flat sable and synthetic brush by Pro Arte) and practice. I turned the paper upside down and painted downwards from the top of the mountains to the top of the paper. A shallow angle on the board makes the paint run smoothly, we hope! Load the brush well, use the minimum of brush strokes and as soon as you reach the top of the paper, leave it alone! Take up any water that collects on the edge of the paper, using a damp brush or kitchen paper. Make sure the wash is completely dry before moving the board otherwise any wet paint will run back into the drying area and create a mark.
Simple but quite effective. This painting was on a quarter imperial sheet of Waterford 300gsm NOT paper and using good quality paper like this certainly makes the job easier. Using the best quality materials won’t paint the picture for you, but it does help!