Tuesday, September 2, 2014


Non-artists, as well as non-watercolorists, often ask me how I start a watercolor.  In this watercolor I decided to paint everything that wasn't going to remain white first.  I started with the wet in wet sky area, but painted right over the roof and the shadow parts of the dock building and then into the water. I seldom stop the first wash when it gets to an area, like the roof, that is going to eventually be darker.  I changed colors subtly along the way, but when I got finished with the first wash, most of the entire page was covered.  That was allowed to dry.

When I came back in, I glazed the second wash as a warm pinkish hue right on top of the cooler blues.  I splashed in a few yellow ochres here and there to warm up the second layer.  I then completely dried this second wash. 

I used the third wash to loosely define some areas on the building by cutting around barrels and crates to emphasize them with a darker toned background. 
The last wash involved the reflections in the water.  I painted them in one pass, gradating the value and color as I went.

Last, and most scary, I had to throw in some accents (not shapes) of wooden beams and hoists which overlapped everything that came before.  I was also careful not to make the flagpole as dark as the foreground verticals, since it would draw attention away from the focal area.  Other accents at this finishing stage included the distant boats out on the horizon.

In short, I didn't paint any objects in the first wash.  I try to think of the first wash as the unifying layer.  No boats, roofs, poles, buildings;  just a large mass of unifying color. Glazing warm over cool, or cool over a warm first wash, will build up richer, un-muddied color. 

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