Now that we’re back home in “Friendly Manitoba” and settled in, I’ve started tackling my Christmas piece again. It’s quite a time-consuming piece with all the negative space work. I’ve been working on the pine and spruce boughs quite a bit which involves laying down some basic strokes to represent the needles in various greens from some very dark ones to a jade and celadon green. It’s important when choosing your greens, by trying them on scrap paper first to see if they suit the proper coloration of the subject. There are so many greens and some like the pthalo greens and blues in acrylic and watercolor can be very intense and distracting. I used, in keeping with the light areas as compared to those in shadow, Juniper green, Permanent green, Chrome oxide green, Earth green, Earth green yellowish and a few prismas, Dark, Jade and Celadon green. I also am using Prisma Sky blue and white in a few areas for the very lightest needles or highlights. In the case of this piece you can have quite a variety as spruce boughs can be very bluish or very green and pine needles are generally warmer and have more yellow green in them. As I laid down the needles, I worked back and forth between the negative space and the needles themselves gradually building the look I wanted. Doing it this way helps to eliminate putting in too much negative darks and allows you to see how the boughs need to be developed. I will darken the top of the mailbox a little more and finish the front of it as well. Beyond that I have a lot of soft-focus background to do as well as complete the pine cones and berries. In this piece the background should not interfere with the focal point but should be very, very subdued.