Thursday, January 19, 2012

Sand and Shore

This week's in-class painting is a simple waterfront scene derived from photos taken on my morning dog-walk, with the waves rolling in from Lake Ontario and a single file of ducks strolling up the beach ahead of us. At 8 x 10 this was doable in two hours, with not much sketching required at all.
I made only a few pencil lines before painting, roughing in the ducks and their reflections as 4 separate ovals . The glistening sand colours are faint enough that masking fluid was not needed to save the bands of white in the ducks' plummage.
I began with an overall wash of clear water to prepare the paper for three separate bands of texture, to be painted wet-in-wet for softly blurred edges: Neutral Tint was mixed with Burnt Sienna for the near sand, Antwerp Blue defined the glistening wet sand, and Neutral Tint shaped the waves. Once the background was quite dry I shaped the ducks and their reflections, taking time to build up the dark colours in layers.
To get increasingly darker colours one must load the brush with less water in ratio to more pigment, almost dry-brush in the final strokes. All this building up requires some drying time between layers, which is when one goes back to other elements that also need touching up - textures in the nearest sand, more shaping in the far waves. These layers and touch-ups take time but also heighten the realism of the final picture, a nice way to remember a walk on the beach.


  1. Well Frances, I must thank you again for this excellent watercolor lesson. I continue to marvel at your mastery of this medium, and your generosity in helping the rest of us to try some new techniques.

    Those mallards are beautifully caught, and having the tide at the "horizon line" creates a beautiful contrast to the calm of the sand. The water does seem to be in motion!


  2. Thank you Frances! I have just tinkered with the post a bit more, adding a couple of the in-between steps from my in-class sketchbook pages.