Painting with waterclour, Painting, Drawing, Printmaking, Art Courses,

Painting – Being Bold with Darks: make the lights shine

Working with watercolour there is no white except the paper and the choice and use of colour to emphasise light in painitngs, oh!… and choosing how to apply them of course!!!!

To help you understand how the professional watercolourists do this it is always a good idea to look at thier paintings; and then try out their approaches before working with your own composition in a similar way.

We took a Lucy Willis image of a greanium in a terracotta pot from her wonderful book Light andHow To Paint With It (here on Amazon) and drew her granium first and then created a similar composition using some crocus’ from the garden. Sadly I didn’t photograph the two dainty little blooms I picked. (sorry!)

I feel it is very important to create your own version of the image used in the technical  exercise and something that anyone using other artists work as reference should be very sure to do. This ensures that you develop your own style and keeps your brushwork fresh.

This was also a very useful way of learning to be brave and also a way of building on our pallete practice.  These pictures were painted using cadmium orange, ultramarine and Carmine red, with the addition of leamon yellow to create the greeens.

The first itteration of the geranium image was pretty but not necessarily very brave.  Having critically reviewed teh piece I decided to work back into it with a bluer and more opaque mix.  The difference in the two paintings was noticable and the darker, braver background (bringing it nearer to Lucy Willis’s rendering) really allowed the geranium and the pot to sing.

Above on the outsides are two examples from the lesson and centre is the Lucy Willis Geranium image. On the left there is good contrast in the pot area and on some of the leaves. The egg (or stone) is sell conceived but quite pale. The baclground is quite tentative and a little patchy but there are areas which are well repeated.  The picture on the left is bolder but there is a lack of life in the leaves, they feel flat and the petals are also a little bland. This pot again shows some good paintwork and contrast, the rim on the left could have had a more prominent light detail .  Critical review of your work should always be part of your process and being hoest with yourself is very important. This means constructively looking at the week points but also noticing the parts that do work adn why the image is – or is not working. Just saying thats so bad and putting it in the bin is not going to help you progress.

The rework on the right hand geranium has made a big difference. The bold background has allowed the red petals to sing and more work to the leaves adn the addition of darker lights and pure lemon yellow has bought them to life.  The feature image crocus was worked again too with darker backgrond and stronger purples on the petals. The darker purples have allowed the antlers adn stamens to really become the main feature of the image, that with the addition of the orange detailing to the pot and a more orange mix to the foreground. Below are two works by one of our attendees. You will see that she has begun to work into the background and Im looking forward to seeing how brave she is when building up the image for her homework. 🙂





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