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