Painting with waterclour, West Darmoor Art Courses News

Layers and luminosity – Top Tip for watercolour painting

Letting the paint do the hard work using translucent washes in layers takes the guessing out of watercolour painting.

This exercise uses a restricted palette to create a simple landscape with tree as an exercise in suing washes to build depth and solidity in a painting.  This approach can be used with all painting mediums but here we are using watercolour.

We started by drawing a simple composition with three horizons a tree and a path. The secret to creating harmony and distance is to keep it simple.  Paint the sky area and the two far hills in Prussian blue and the when dry then paint the foreground with either a light cadmium yellow or mis (as we did) cadmium yellow hue with lemon yellow and paint up over the two hills in the background (and the tree – something we forgot!). remember to create space in the canopy.

Next mix a little blue into the yellow and create a mid-green paint the middle tree loosely over the yellow, leaving some light areas, paint over all grass areas leaving the path. You can add a little detail into the path with a few touches of paint.

Gradually add a bluer mix and paint in new trees, darken the trunk of the first tree and the middle hill. Once dry move on to a stronger green and loosely begin to address the forms of the trees. Lastly, use a thin wash on the far hills to knock them back if necessary and a stronger blue mix to create shadow areas on the bowl of the trees, the trunks and add their shadows.  Job done.

To underline this new approach, we then recreated the scene using a different palette. I used ultramarine and cobalt mixed and yellow ochre. To this mix I also added a touch of complementary orange to grey down the colours and create a very different feel for the composition.

RD’s two pieces showed her growing confidence (image three). She worked much more loosely on the second attempt, showing how well she understood the processes we covered today. Well Done RD

Painting with waterclour, West Darmoor Art Courses News

Doodles set you free

Doodle Do – Derring do- a must do fun approach to experimenting with wet in wet and wet on dry without worrying about the results and getting …..Reeesultz!!!

Sometimes playing around can be as productive as a day behind a school desk.  Using an approach which enables a can-do, no worries and no restrictions approach can really encourage experimentation which leads to a more dynamic and brave approach in any creative pastime.

Working freely with washes and splashes of colour, carelessly missing and moving the paint around on the page is not only therapeutic and relaxing but , without he constraints of “I have to get it right” allows everyone to try this, try that, and even make serious messy muddy patches! Of-course messy muddy patches are not really what I was looking for but, in their own way they can lead to a realisation of how paint works and where adding too much water can lead to dull outcomes. So! everyone is a winner.

The fun in this is to interpret the marks made and I love how everyone was really up for trying things and being a bit brave.  Reassuringly the outcomes led to exclamations for delight and wonder at how characterful and interesting the images became.

Perhaps is the illustrator in me, but I loved these renditions of figures and animals.

Painting with waterclour, Painting, Drawing, Printmaking, Art Courses,, West Darmoor Art Courses News

Painting in new ways to increase your vocabulary

When you are learning about how to use paint, how to create a palette that suits you and as a way to shake up your approach I like introduce alternative approaches through images made by a range of artists. Often in styles which are very different to the participants normal approaches.

There were only two of us today so poor K had my undivided attention. However, I think my scrutiny really helped her work through her issues with this entirely new approach. One she had never used acrylics and two acrylics work in a totally different way to watercolour (her normal approach to colour)

I really took my hat off to her determination to work with the image she had picked from a number I had found on Pinterest. All of them were very different, some in oil, some in acrylic, some mixed media and one or two watercolour. Sadly, as is the wont of Pinterest many of the images where not credited so, sadly, we can’t credit the artists we used.

Very different images to work with. My chosen three pears and K’s one. We looked carefully for clues as to how the artist had worked. K’s worked in loose layers the overpainting used on slightly wet paint and creating its own third colour in much of the image.  The palette is strong and not a natural choice for her. So a really big gold star. I love how she has developed the image and worked with the acrylic paint, finding positives in how it works and what it can achieve.

I enjoyed this new approach too. I particularly liked the simple colourful imagery. I worked a little faster than K and (with a little overrun!) managed to first try the image I had chosen and then using the pears from earlier created my own composition in the same style.

Really enjoyed the process and will see how I can develop this style to suit my subject matter.

Painting with waterclour, Painting, Drawing, Printmaking, Art Courses,, West Darmoor Art Courses News

Painting: Underpainting to bring unity

This week we picked a picture of the sweetest of chiff chaff’s sitting on reed stalks.

We used an under-drawing as a guide to paint over, over which we laid a thin, translucent, layer of mauve. As we built up the wash layers this purple was brought into the shadows and brought a cohesive feel to the image.

Whilst the colour on this bird has become rather too brown and heavy -creating more of a reed warbler than a chiff chaff (LOL) the use of deep shadow amongst the stalks has been well seen and the form of the bird is well described.

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

Painting -Finding the right red for a camellia

What a fantastic Camellia tree in the studio garden, it is completely covered in big, decedant, waxy flowers in a riot of pint, yellow and glossy glossy dark blue green leaves. Understanding how those colours work together and how to create your own lucious, delicious pink/red to do justice to this flower was not as straight forward as it initially seemed.

I have a very natty little colour guide wheel (Pocket Colour Wheel 13cm. Compact Paint Mixing Learning Guide. Art Class Teaching Tool ) which I got from Amazon but I also have a colour pallette mixing book which covers watercolour, acrylic, gouache and oil paints.  It is throoughly useful indeed. I got it some years ago and cant actually find it on the internet but here is something similar on World of Books The Watercolour Painter’s Pocket Palette by Moira Clinch.

Using this as a starting place a suitable pinky red was selected, we didnt actually have the exact colour specififed so chose similar colours in terms of warm/cool spectrum adn started mixing. What becomes a little tricky is that there are so many vairiables…the amount of water mixed with teh water colour, applying wet on dry or wet on wet and then getting a consistent ratio of the two colours when creating the palette.

What did become apparent was that the initial choice of Cadmium red, violet pink, cadmium yellow, sap green adn ultramarine didnt quite give the mix needed when put up against the flower. What became apparent was the need for a more robust pink. We tried rose pink and alizarin into teh mix and then finally it dawned that the cadmium yellow would dull the pink down just enough and BINGO! we had it.

Creating our work strainght from life with observational drawing adn looking closely at the soft lost and hard found areas of shade and light helped bring beleivable form to teh paintings. A very satisfying demo and work from the the class was so productive. KA really was exceptionally brave with her brush strokes, painting from life bought rather than a copied image really bought her image to life. A very different approach from  her previous work: Well done you.


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

Painting with a Spring Pallette – Dancing with Daffodils

Spring Time Yellows

Exciting times, spring is sprung the grass is rising and sunshine makes the daffodils a wonderful mixture of lemon and cadmium yellows!

Today’s pallette was chosen to create a painting of the daffodils sitting looking so wonderfully sunny on the table of the studio at West Dartmoor Art Courses

We have a large pot of tubed watercolours, this is very helpful when learning which colours are what! We chose a range of greens, blues and yellows and a violet.

We could have probably used a red instead of the violet and created our own Terre Vert green but, sometimes it’s fun to introduce other dimensions and the violet and cadmium yellow produced a wonderful soft brown colour of the sepal on the daffodil. The Terre Vert was such a good match for the stalk and the addition of the Prussian blue made good shadows for the stalk.

The violet was a conscious choice to create dynamic shadows and help foreground the lemon yellow and enrich the cadmium yellow.  One thing we did notice, and I didn’t actually photograph was how different cadmium yellows look in their tubes and the tubes paper colour indicators but do look the same when mixed, at least to the eye.

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. 🙂