More than any other medium watercolour needs to be planned meticulously. Things need to be done in a certain order with a fair bit of pre-mixing of washes. Then, having applied the washes, waiting for them to dry, while resisting the urge to fiddle with them.
The subject of the watercolour is a sunset over Poole Harbour in Dorset. You can see from the photo that the colours are subtle and rather beautiful. The sky colours are laid on as separate washes, wet-on-dry, rather than being mixed and then applied. When mixed into one another, transparent colours often have a muddy character, while the same colours laid wet-on-dry over one another achieve the target colour but with a cleaner, brighter hue.
I took an 11 x 15in (28 x 38cm) sheet of Bockingford 140lb watercolour paper and clipped it to my board, before setting it on my sketching easel at an angle of approximately 30 degrees.
Looking at the subject I felt that I could use a fairly limited palette so decided to squeeze the colours from the tubes and mix them as I needed them. The brushes I used were a 1” ABS Kolinsky one stroke flat, a size 12 and a size 3 ABS Kolinsky round.
I first established an approximate size within the paper for the painting and outlined it softly with a 2B pencil. I established the horizon with a line drawn parallel to the paper’s edge and placed the sun in the sky, taking care not to make it too large. This is all the drawing I felt was necessary. However, if you prefer to make a more comprehensive drawing at this stage, that is fine.
Squeezing out a blob of permanent rose into a well in my watercolour box, I diluted it with water using the one stroke brush, making sure that there were no undissolved lumps of paint clinging to the hairs, since a dense streak of undiluted colour in the middle of a soft wash is undesirable.
Reference photo - Poole Harbour at sunset