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 and will be leading a week in Italy with Arte Umbria ( 4 to 11 July, 2018, where she hopes to paint Italian black bees, honey buzzards and wild boar. Visit her website for details or her blog for tips and ideas

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

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