I’ve been playing with my watercolours again, prompted by the challenge chain. The theme I picked was rain, so I made this today. 4” x 6”
I though I’d take some photos and share my process and some watercolour tips I find helpful.
Watercolour paper, thick is good
White acrylic paint
2B mechanical pencil
Two water jars, one for rinsing, one for clean water
I start with a light, rough sketch of the main shapes. My sketching is pretty messy!
When I’m happy with the placement, I use a kneadable eraser to erase lines I don’t want, and lighten the lines. I don’t mind if a bit of pencil shows. If you don’t want pencil showing, use a toning watercolour pencil lightly e.g light blue. It will dissolve into the watercolour.
I use assorted brushes, not very expensive. Larger ones for background, and the small dagger at the bottom is my go-to for smaller shapes and details.
Using a small number of colours that tone together helps your picture be cohesive. I used six cool colours:-
Dark blackish blue, very granular (lunar blue)
Bright blue (smalt)
Bright pink (opera rose)
(I ended up not using the turquoise on the palette.)
Using the clean water and a larger brush, I brushed water over the background areas. Then I gently brushed a little watery paint in, different shades in different areas, keeping it very light under the flower.
… and add a bit more paint. The trick is not to work it with your brush too much. Just let the colours blend and do their thing. If it all goes horribly wrong, put more paint on it and make an ATC masterboard
Let it dry completely. Use a hairdryer if you’re feeling impatient.
Now it’s time to add the details - I switch to my small dagger brush here.
Fill in the body with fairly watery paint. You can see where I dabbed off some wet paint with a little bit of paper towel - this is an easy way to add soft highlights.
Add in the different shapes. I added the wing while the pink was still wet, let the colours bleed together, and brushed in tiny bit of purple on the bottom of the bird. I like the effect when colours bleed into each other, but if you want a crisper look, wait for patches to dry before you paint next to them.
Add the yellow flower centre and allow to dry.
I traced a very small amount of the dark blue black around the petals, then quickly rinsed my brush and softened the edge with clean water. Brush up pigment with a clean brush and dab the brush on paper towel to remove excess paint and get light shading - you can see this in the next two photos.
Dab tiny spots of the blue-black on the flower centre for texture - some very diluted and pale, some darker. Add the stalk (I used teal.)
Now for more details.
Add some splashy bits and a puddle round the feet. Keep it dilute and loose. Don’t brush back and forth too much, you’ll lift up the dry paint if you overwork it.
Add an eye and legs with the dark blue. You can see where I extended the dark colour a tiny bit along the bottom of the bird for a bit of depth.
Add some little details as you like. I like little squirls, spots, and feathers. Using the same dark blue-black, yellow and purple paints for details unifies the piece. You could use fine marker pens instead - black and white looks cool on bright colours.
This final step is white acrylic paint for highlights - very small bits of paint make a big difference! I did stripy legs, accent spots on the wing and feathers, a few tiny bits on the puddle, little dots on the flower centre, and brightened the petals (just some paint stokes, not filling the whole petal).
And there it is!