Demonstration: The Brecon Beacons
Your reference photo
Your reference photo
Although one of the attractive qualities of watercolour is its unpredictability and apparent spontaneity, it often requires careful planning and execution. This is one such case. You will also find that a small compositional sketch helps.
The top two thirds of this painting are established using a series of washes.
The foreground, can also be a variegated wash, which then requires more careful painting of the numerous rocks.
I began with the sky and its reflection, turning the board round and using a quite strong mixture of cobalt blue modified with a little burnt sienna.
Where sky and hill reflections meet I tried to keep some flecks of white paper.
I felt the success of this painting depended on pulling off the challenge presented by the washes describing the hill and lake, whereas the foreground was more straightforward.
Putting off the difficult bit, I tackled the foreground next.
I discovered a nice dirty green in my palette, and used it for the grassy area. I then mixed a strong solution of quinacridone violet and some French ultramarine and burnt sienna for the right-hand area.
I painted around the rocks, but not too carefully, and while the washes were still wet went back and put in the rocks with a mixture of burnt sienna and French ultramarine.This was then left to dry.
When dry, I returned to add some definition to rocks and grass areas.
Next I mixed raw sienna, cadmium yellow and a little cobalt blue to get that bright green of the hill.
I also mixed a lighter wash of mainly raw sienna for the wedge-shape of hill and reflection.
The green wash was applied first, leaving some white paper at the fore for what might be snow, taking it past the hard shadow line on the left and washed it out to nothing with clear water.
I then painted the wedge shape with the mainly raw sienna wash, letting it touch the green reflection and blend, but washing it out to nothing before it touched the green hill, where I wanted to keep a hard edge.
Then came the dramatic shadows.
I mixed something up which gave me a very dark grey green - perylene green, burnt sienna and Payne’s grey - but it is the tone which matters more than the colour (for this you should refer to the pencil compositional sketch).
I applied this wash boldly, in one go, over hill and lake, whilst noting the touch of sunlight striking the hill as it passes behind.
Whilst this was still wet, I applied a really dark wash (Payne’s grey and French ultramarine and quinacridone violet) as a band across the centre of the lake.
Detail was then added to the hill and a second coat of quinacridone violet and cerulean blue was added to the foreground.
I put a mount around the painting and stood it on the mantlepiece. I was relieved to see that the general tone and colours were accurate, so I prepared to spend some time making adjustments.
I did not like the wedge-shaped hill and reflection on the right, so sponged out and repainted.
I then suggested the ruffled water on the left by lifting out with a stiff chisel brush.
the faint vertical reflection lines were obtained by stroking with clear water and dabbing dry.
I also worked a little more on the foreground.