Creative Plan – Watercolour Paints

Washes

This was a small exercise to try and loosen up my mind about using watercolours – attempting to not control them so much and letting them bleed and blur into each other. The previous exercise with the different types of cakes was meant to cover this technique, but felt like I only just skimmed the surface. So it needed to be revisited but in a simpler, more traditional way.

For inspiration I dug out some photos from past travel adventures. Watercolours are always seen as a perfect medium for landscape painting. Especially when we think of sweeping skies or sunsets where large swathes of graduating colour can be brushed in quickly and effectively.

Norway

Nordkapp, Norway

The great thing about this photo was that it was already blurry to begin with, perfect for watercolours! I wetted the entire paper first then lightly brushed on some Cerulean blue then added a bit of turquoise and later on indigo to create some contrast and depth. Once it dried, and with great restraint, I added some detail like the little figures and speckly gravel texture in the foreground. 

First layer – wet on wet
Final piece

It looked pretty decent in the end, and I’m happy to have retained the spatial distance between foreground and background.  I can even feel the freezing, brutal wind that swirled around me when I took that photo too.

Antarctica

I didn’t pre-wet the paper this time, instead applied it with each new colour. Though it did mean I had to work fast (or is that me believing I had to work fast?). 

It has a really nice, airy feel. The success of this painting is with the contrasting colours in the clouds especially where the deep indigo hues sit in front of the warm yellow-orange hues. My favourite parts are where the colours bleeds into each other.

Deception Island

Deception Island, Antarctica

Before even starting this painting it was obvious when looking at the actual photo that the “watercolour” effect was going to be where that heavy mist appears. 

Pre-mist stage
Final piece

So I painted the picture as I normally would then let it completely dry. With a little spray bottle I spritzed water across the section where the mist would appear then lightly dabbed off the water hoping to also remove some of the paint underneath as well. I did this a few times but also applying more paint as well until the effect was contrasting enough with the background. Once it dried I painted in the little figures.

This was a nice exercise and wasn’t too taxing. For someone like me who does use watercolours a lot but not necessarily to create a watercolour painting, ie instead using them more because they can fill a picture with colour very quickly, its a great way to remind myself what the real value is of painting with watercolours is. It’s fluid, its a little mercurial and it keeps you honest – its hard to hide mistakes in this pure form.

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