Monday, February 20, 2012


Here's a nice wet-in-wet technique for painting flowers. I'm stepping aside from my usual glazed layers to work in adjacent segments of feathered colour.

Begin with a simple sketch, just one or two blossoms, with the separate petals defined:
Prepare two puddles of colour, a yellow and a red. I used Winsor Yellow and Cadmium Red with a bit of Quinacridone Magenta for variety of hue. Pre-wet one single petal with a wash of yellow.

While the yellow is glistening and wet, load up your brush with red (pigment-rich rather than watered down), and dab colour into the base and up the centre of the yellow. The wet yellow wash will start to take up the red, dragging it into natural-looking veining.

While that petal is drying move over to a new one, staying away from the first. Start with the yellow as before and add the red, observing the natural shifts of colour and leaving a yellow edge to the petal.
And repeat, again leaving the still-wet petals alone while starting a new one.
Fill in between the petals once they have dried, using the same yellow to red technique, and move on to the next flower.I added a little blue-green, a mystery mix left over on my palette, for some pockets of shading in the yellow.
Mixing Sap Green with the yellow, lay in the stems and a few leaves. Careful brushwork will keep the the red edges from bleeding into the green. And then go to town with an assortment of wet in wet green shades for background.

And that wraps up another two-hours-or-less painting. The studio cat, below, stepped between me and the tulips a few times, just in case I needed his input. Very decorative, if not helpful.

“The smallest feline is a masterpiece” – Leonardo Da Vinci

Sunday, February 12, 2012


Two versions of a still life with apples, both done in my little watercolour sketch pad from Curry's.
For watercolour sketches and studies these little books are very handy, not as expensive as Arches' supreme papers, and a step above the many flimsy "student grade" pads.

Painting with the intent to only sketch somehow frees one's hand for greater ease in both the sketching and painting, and curiously so does using truly inferior non-watercolour paper. For example, the flip chart paper on which I sketched another apple composition in class, using watercolour pencils:
(bond paper in poor light, crinkled from the moisture of earlier paintings
on the pages that p
receded it),
On nicer paper I would have drawn more slowly and cautiously in order to preserve the delicate surface fibres. But on the flip-chart bond paper I quickly laid in a sketch with lots of pencil lines, which were then pared back to the essentials with a soft eraser. The first layer of colours was applied in cross-hatched strokes with Faber Castell watercolour pencils. Cadmium yellow made a unifying undercoat for all the apples . . .
. . . and the individual colours were built up from there - Golden Delicious, Honey Crisp and Granny Smith.
There are cupcakes in the background too, something sweet for Valentine's Day.
Not a bad outcome for plain old bond paper. The next step is to brush the watercolour pencil layers with water, just enough to brighten the colours. But it is not obligatory and would certainly crinkle this non-watercolour surface. I'm going to leave them alone for now, crisp and glossy.

Post-script, Feb 16: A final touch of water, just the least bit on a barely damp brush, brings up the rich hues hidden in the watercolour pencil pigments. Now that's glossy!