Monday, September 16, 2013

Shhhhh. . . I have a painting secret.

Brothers                      9 x 11
Watercolor on paper

Most novice artists are put off from watercolor painting because they're afraid their drawing skills aren't good enough. So I'm going to let you in on a well known secret among art teachers.  Sometimes we just skip the drawing lesson and use a light box or, in my case, a window.

1.  Print out your picture on a full sheet of paper.
2.  Tape it face down to the back of a piece of watercolor paper

 3.  Tape the paper to a window.
4.  Lightly trace the outline.
5.  Take the picture off the back and crop the photo with tape.

Now the painting part.  Colors needed:  yellow ochre, cadmium yellow medium, cadmium red light, opera, pthalo blue, ultramarine blue, sap green and burnt sienna.

1.  Wet-on-wet wash of both blues on the water above the surf.  Wet-on-wet wash of yellow ochre on the sand and the figures.  Leave the surf white.  Blot some yellow off of the shoulders of the figures. I also dropped some opera pink on the left figure"s (Peter) shorts.  DRY
2.  On the right figure (Eric) I painted a clear water then dropped in some burnt sienna and cadmium red on the shorts.  I left a light spot on his hair, shoulder and arm.

3.  I added some burnt sienna and pthalo blue to the figure of Peter also leaving some light areas on his shoulder, arm and shorts.  DRY
 4.  I wet the water and sand areas and dropped in some more colors.  Blues and greens on the water and yellow ochre and burnt sienna on the sand.  I sharpened up some edges on the surf and dropped a little bit of blue into the white surf and the shadows by the boys' feet.  DRY

 5. I added another layer of the original colors to the figures to darken the shadows.  To Peter's hair I added burnt sienna mixed with ultramarine blue.  To Eric's (my redhead) I added a little burnt sienna mixed with yellow ochre.  DRY

6. Eric's shoulder needed a better highlight so I took a clean, stiff bristle brush with clear water and scrubbed gently. Then blotted with a clean tissue.  DRY

7. I put some yellow ochre on the sand to redefine the edge of his shoulder.

8. I wet the sand by their feet and dropped in ultramarine blue to develop a deeper shadow.

9.  I sharpened some edges with a black created by mixing burnt sienna and ultramarine blue and declared the piece done!

Last summer, about 22 years since the original photo, I bribed the boys into recreating the pose. Aren't they cute!


  1. So cool. I have a client who will love this idea so I will send her here.

  2. I absolutely love this post. As an artist, I can appreciate the time it took to complete this and to take the time to do the step by step. Great job! Unique and lovely!

  3. I agree, Karen! Teaching is the best way to pay it forward...and you pay it forward with your talent! Thanks for sharing with us this week, and I have shared your post with the Creative Buzz Hop Times.