Friday, July 9, 2010

The Midtones

Most watercolorists paint from light to dark.  Usually I see that my students are able to paint the first wash in a very clean and fresh passage.  It's when they get to the midtones that problems start occuring.
Some helpful things to consider:
Do a value pattern with three or four clear values.  Know where the midtones are going to be. 

When painting the lights, most of the time you can paint through areas that will eventually be in shadow. Some students think they must stop the light wash when they get to the shadow area. This results in piecemeal work.  Paint the entire object and then paint the midtone on top of the first wash.

  When laying down the midtones, test a small area to see if it is dark enough.  The biggest problem with midtones is that they aren't dark enough.  Also remember that when it dries, the midtone will often be lighter than when it was wet.  Err on the side of painting it darker than you think it should be.

  Paint the midtone lightly.  Don't smoosh the brush into the paper to make it darker.  That will disturb the first wash. Use more water and more paint so that the brush glides. 

Resist the temptation to put in any dark values until the big passages of midtones are complete.

Remember that midtones are crucial in holding the painting together.  Make sure they can be identified as distinctly darker than the lights. 

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