I’ve probably had published somewhere in the region of twenty oil painting demonstrations for the PaintersOnline e-newsletters over the years, so I thought that it would be a useful exercise to show how I approach watercolours when painting in the studio.
I use the term ‘in the studio’ because my style of working is totally different when I’m out and about painting plein air.
Generally speaking, my aim when painting outdoors is to capture a particular scene, or it could be a single element like a tree or an interesting gate etc very quickly. Once back in the studio I will select the most useful of these rapid sketches as a basis for an oil painting at a later stage.
But in the comfort of my studio, where time isn’t an issue with changing conditions etc, I prefer to plan my watercolours out in more depth.
As I do when painting with oils, my preference is to work in stages, or layers, as this gives me more control over what’s happening, rather than say employing the wet-in-wet technique, which can all be rather random and out of your control, although I do occasionally like to experiment and have fun with this technique, and I’ve seen some superb paintings on the gallery using the wet-in-wet technique.
There have been some great watercolour artists over the centuries, and without doubt my first choice would have to be JWM Turner for his plein air sketch book studies - simplicity is the key word here, minimalist even, but so very effective.
Of course there has been many other great watercolour painters since Turner such as Wesson, Seago and Rowland Hilder to name just a few, so there’s plenty of inspiration out there for newcomers to look and learn from.
Demonstration: Faversham Creek
Faversham Creek, watercolour and ink, (28x38cm)
I’ve chosen a well know subject for my demonstration, Faversham Creek, with the iconic Grade II listed Oyster Bay House taking centre stage as it so rightly should.
I worked from a royalty-free photo on this occasion - I don’t often work from photo’s, but they can be a great asset to artists as long as we don’t try and painstakingly copy them. This one was used as a general guide to get the shape and proportions of the main building, then added my own boats and general land/seascape.
As always, I was more interested in trying to capture the ambience of the scene, rather than an architecturally accurate but static representation, which copying from a photo will often generate.
A selection of materials used for this painting