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How to paint a donkey in watercolour with Liz Chaderton

Posted on Thu 10 May 2018

Demonstration: Slipper

You will need:

  • Deep-edge canvas (40x40cm)
  • Watercolour See colours (below)
  • Miscellaneous
  • Blue masking fluid and ColourShaper
  • Spray bottle of water

Step 1- Drawing

1. The lines here are darker than normal so that you can see them clearly. Try to keep them light and to a minimum, unless you want them to show in your final piece. Before I started to paint I lifted them and took out errors using a damp Magic eraser.

2. I applied masking fluid (I used Pebeo blue masking fluid so it would show up clearly).

3. I loved the whiskers round Slipper’s muzzle and thought I would drop random dots to break up the paint, as I was aiming for a painting to make people smile. I used a silicone Colour Shaper with the masking fluid, as you can achieve fine marks and it is simple to clean. Generally, I am not keen on masking fluid as it leaves such hard edges, but I wanted to show you how easy it is to use on canvas.

Step 2 - Start painting

1. Keeping the canvas at a slight angle, I started with the dominant eye and continued from there. I used a No. 8 Round, but I probably should have used something a lot bigger to stop me fiddling! Being careful to paint what I saw and not what I thought I saw, I worked wet on dry and wet in wet down the right-hand side of the donkey. Being right handed, I would usually start on the left to avoid smudges, however, the eye is so important, I wanted to start with it in case I made a mistake.

2. The paint will take longer to dry on canvas so I was careful about the order in which I painted. I know glazing and layering would be tricky, as the paint lifts so easily, so my aim was to get it right first time.

3. I sprinkled in a little salt to add texture and I dropped clean water in to encourage back runs.

Step 3 - The second eye

I repeated the process with the less dominant eye and varied the colours. I also aimed to vary the edges, leaving some hard and softening others, using a small spray bottle with clean water. I didn’t use salt on this side; you can have too much of a good thing!

Step 4 - The nose

I moved onto the nose, which gave the eye areas a chance to dry off. I made sure the tones in the nostrils were really strong first time.

Step 5 - Ears and background

1. I used the dry-brush technique on the right-hand ear where the texture of the canvas broke through the paint, along with wet on dry. Dropping colour into the damp wash, I painted the ears. I made sure there were small flashes on dry white canvas showing and softened edges in places. I wanted lots of variety of marks and colour in a small area.

2. As I had softened the edges as I went along, I had some of my background in place already; I just strengthened it in places.

Step 6 - Finishing details

I let it all dry thoroughly and came back with fresh eyes. I removed the masking fluid, which you can do without fear of damaging the surface. Then I used a damp small flat brush to soften some of the whiskers and added a tiny bit of detail with a Rigger. It is a case of a few adjustments at this point with a very light touch. A few deliberately placed splashes, which I hope look random, just help the eye travel around. Again, less is more.

The finished painting Slipper, watercolour on canvas, (40x40cm).

Once I was sure I had finished, I let the painting dry thoroughly then applied three thin layers of spray varnish. I used Ghiant H2O matt, which is a low-solvent product. I attached a backing board, as it is easy to dent or even puncture a canvas then a cord and D rings.


Liz Chaderton

Liz is a professional artist based in Berkshire. She runs weekly classes and monthly workshops (see www.joedaisy.co.uk) and will be leading a week in Italy with Arte Umbria (www.arteumbria.com) 4 to 11 July, 2018, where she hopes to paint Italian black bees, honey buzzards and wild boar. Visit her website www.lizchaderton.co.uk for details or her blog for tips and ideas http://lizintheshed.wordpress.com


This demonstration is taken from Liz's article on painting watercolour on canvas in the July 2018 issue of Leisure Painter

Click here to purchase your copy


How to paint a donkey in watercolour with Liz Chaderton

Comments

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  • thanks very much for this nice demonstration and picture, I love it really very much. There are some ideas for me in the explanation, which I perhaps will try the next time for my own watercolors.

    Posted by Eva Dust on Wed 30 May 15:04:04