Lots of you have asked me to show you some watercolour paintings which include the various stages, so here we go... our first one is penguins.
Living in Bourton-on-the-Water means that I can pop down to Birdland Park to sketch the Birds so when I have some spare time I can visit with my sketchpad or paints. It needn’t take very long and the simplest of subjects can inspire me, so I am going to share with you my painting of the fun Penguins in Birdland.
The penguins often stand on this narrow ledge above the water; the light bounces off the waters surface creating the most wonderful reflections on the penguins white fronts. In the sunshine the light then dances on the wall behind them warming their shadows.
It’s quite a challenge, but watercolour is a fabulous medium for this type of subject.
Working on Saunders Waterford not surface 140 lb cotton watercolour paper, I begin with a simple line drawing.
Im not sure how clear this is, but the drawing does need to be accurate, a poor drawing will only lead to a poor painting, no matter how good you are at painting (sorry)
Once done I put some masking tape around the edge of my intended picture.
I then choose my colours, I prefer a limited palette so I try my colours out on a test sheet first, mixing them to ensure I can mix a dark enough colour.
Im using Cadmium Yellow Deep, Burnt Sienna, Winsor Blue (green shade)
and Cobalt Turquoise Light.
My darkest colour mix can be made using Winsor Blue and Burnt Sienna. You could use anything similar.
Ok - now we are off...
I wet the paper thoroughly using The Golden Leaf brush, pushing the water into the paper and working side to side and up and down to ensure that the paper is thoroughly wet. (but not pooling)
I am now going to look for the lightest, brightest colours.
Changing to my Classic Round brush (equivalent to a number 12 squirrel) I drop onto the surface, dilute Cadmium Yellow Deep and Winsor Blue (green shade) letting the colours merge together forming patches of colour.
Whilst this is still wet I use the Half Rigger or the Pointer brush to drop in very strong patches of Cadmium Yellow Deep onto the Penguins.
I then let this dry. This is our first wash done.
This technique is a studio technique. Its not easy to do multiple washes outdoors on location because of the drying times.
This is when I pop off and do something else.
Using these transparent colours means that I can overlay washes, one on top of the other, deepening the tones but retaining the underlying colours so using the Golden Leaf brush, I wet everywhere I wish to darken. All of the light areas remain dry, as I don’t intend to work on top of these again.
Using my Classic brush, I then drop in more colour watching as they move into the different areas, adding more pigment where I want darker colours.
I let some of the colours run into the background, especially where I want to add darks later on, this ensures that I paint the background as well as the subject and avoid leaving the background as an afterthought.
This is our second wash completed.
Once I feel I have added enough darks and the painting is beginning to dry, I leave it to dry totally.
Using dilute Winsor Blue (green shade) and my Classic brush, I boldly add all of the shadows. This colour needs to be dark enough to create the shadow in one layer but light enough to show the underlying colours. Winsor Blue (green shade) is a lovely transparent colour and perfect for this situation.
I keep the shapes simple and am not tempted to fiddle!
Adding the darkest areas is the most dramatic part of the painting process. This is when lots of people become nervous and err on the side of caution, but throw caution to the wind and be bold!
Still using my Classic brush I add the heads and dark sections of the wings still using a mix of Winsor Blue (green shade) and Burnt Sienna.
I hope it inspires you to have a go at this technique. Its these techniques I shall be demonstrating in my workshop later this year although we will be painting a lovely street scene in Brugge.