I like to start a watercolor with a light grid to keep my parallel lines parallel. I start with a pencil sketch and then go on to pen and ink.
Pen & Ink La Almudena Cathedral
I tape down all of my watercolors to get the white edge of the paper. Don’t think you need anything expensive. I use carpenter’s tape, but it’s only there for a couple of hours. I wouldn’t leave it there for more than a day.
A small watercolor taped down to the drawing board.
This is the white edge I’m talking about. When the tape is taken off, you have a white border.
Small Watercolor of Almudena Cathedral June 24th 2018
Click Here is a really shortvideoof the painting site.
In March the Cherry Plum and Almond trees are full of Pink and White Blossoms. I like to paint them because they brighten up the room and do the same in a watercolor.
Starting out with a light grid and drawing.
I’m starting out with a grid here to keep my parallel lines even with the picture plane. The grid helps me fit whatever I want wherever I want on the paper.
Marking angles as I paint
The grid controls the Talvera vase so it is not lopsided. There are a lot of branches and blossoms to paint, so I don’t draw them one by one, I cast lines in the direction of the branches and mark some of the pink flowers that stand out the most.
Working around the picture plane
I’m working around the picture plane trying to treat everything with the same importance, background and foreground.
The white blossoms
When painting the white blossoms, I leave the white of the paper. What I do is paint around them leaving a blank silhouette. This is called respecting the white of the paper.
Building up and Looking for Detail
I work around the paper emphasising some details. I try to be careful not to make any area heavier than other areas.
Looking for Contrast
When I’m pretty sure everything is where it belongs, I start in with a la prima, putting in the dark contrasting color in one shot in order to bring out the light.
I’m finishing up here. This is the moment when it can gain or lose. It’s the point of no return. I try not to get to that point, but it really is hard to decide when to stop.
Pink Blossoms in Talavera Vase March 2015
I painted just a little bit more and stopped. I don’t have this watercolor anymore. Next year I hope to make another one in the spring.
This watercolor belongs to the series of My Favorite Bottles.
Here are a few steps in the painting and a tip for watercolor painters at the end about sending watercolors through the post.
It was raining outside, but there was a lot of light, so I thought it would be a nice opportunity to paint my favorite bottles in the Rain.
I don’t always start with a drawing or a grid, sometimes I want to get straight into painting like in this case. I mark the top and bottom and let everything else fall into place.
Here is a detail in the stage of building up.
I started matting my watercolors to have them ready for sending through the post for shows or a sale. When matted, they are protected from bending.
There is something that I’ve learned about sending watercolors through the post and would like to share with other painters.
Recently I’ve sent some large watercolors in the post, so I had to protect them with sturdy cartons to ensure they didn’t get damaged. I realised that I could mat them myself for a bit more and send them through the post protected with a professional finished presentation.
I have a blog which explains how to mat a watercolor; the finishing touch is to cover it with a plexiglass. I’ve also learned that before you mat, the watercolor should be flattened by spraying the back with water, rubbing it down and putting it between two pieces of matting board with weight on top (books). Let it dry over night.
I’d love to hear your comments and questions. If you have better advice, I’d like to hear that too; one never stops learning.
Using a grid while painting from life helps you put the model in perspective.
Whenever people see that I have a grid on my paper to paint in watercolor, I’m always asked why I do it since I’m painting from nature.
I like painting directly without drawing because there is a looseness to it; it’s not that I don’t like drawing or am lazy or something like that. I like drawing too.
If you have a preliminary grid on your paper, it’s easier to place the model into space quickly. Your mind knows the proportions and where everything goes in space.
You are reading this blog, you paint or draw, so you are familiar with a grid.
Take out a piece of paper, make a grid, put a model in front of you whether it be figure, landscape or still life and try it with any medium. Try it as an exercise. I’d be interested to know how it went.
ps The penciled grid is easily erased if you are using watercolor.
This year, the spring was like an explosion of colors. We had a lot of rain and the flower season was abundant and long-lasting.
When I start a watercolor, I point the paper at the model. The paper is thick, 640 GMS. I tape it down with normal carpenter’s tape because I will finish this watercolor before the sun goes down and the light changes drastically. I wet the paper with a brush, wait til it soaks up the water and wet it down again. I don’t always do this, but I want the flowers to blend in with the background.
The paper is completely wet, but not soaking to the point where the paint runs. Then, I start laying in color where I see it, trying to get the form as exact as possible.
When I establish where the vase and blossoms go on the picture plane, I focus on my favorite part, respecting the whites and emphasising color.
Here, I start paying attention to detail, painting a la prima from here to finish of painting.
Spanish Spring Blossoms in Talavera Vase 2016 on Easel. It is still taped down. When the tape is taken off, it has a white border which gives it a nice touch if you let it show in a mat.
This blue glass vase is one of my favorite glass works to paint. I got it at a second-hand store for five dollars. Maybe the previous owner will see it in a watercolor one day. In this post, I’m going to show the phases in making Red Roses in Blue Glass Vase.
First, I look at what I’m going to paint and think about fitting it in the picture plane. I’m starting out lightly directly with paint.
Here, I continue lightly, making sure everything fits in the picture plane since I didn’t start with a preliminary drawing.
After I figure out where the model goes on the picture plane, I start building up more color and shape around it, only painting what I see.
Here I start building up detail around what has already been painted. I don’t re-paint or put more layers where it has already been painted. I just keep on working around the paper to keep balance in check.
At this point, I’m looking for contrasting colors, but still, I’m only painting the colors, shapes and forms that I see.
I’m finishing up here, looking for more contrast so that the glass vase reflected in the mirror doesn’t get lost in the printed material in the background.
Red Roses in Blue Vase 2015 – Watercolor on Arches 640 GMS – 22″ x 16″ – 56 cm x 58 cm
Here is the model for Red Roses in Blue Glass Vase 2015