About this blog

WELCOME! My name is Ann Mortimer and I'm a professional watercolour artist and tutor from Nottingham, UK.

This is a "learn how to" and "problem solving" blog covering WATERCOLOUR TECHNIQUES.

You can look for things that interest you in the blog archive on the side bar when various topics have built up over time!

I'll be covering thing such as colour mixing, negative painting, using masking fluid, laying washes, painting water and all sorts of other things.

Friday, 17 August 2012

Making tone work for you in a painting (continued)

Continuing with the clematis painting.

Clematis painting with cast shadows added on the flowers

The next task was to put in the shadows cast by one flower over another.  This was important as the cast shadows and effect of sunshine were going to provide part of the "wow" factor of the painting.  But it was not necessarily a straightforward thing to do.  Why?  Because it would involve a decision about tones, of course!  The cast shadows had to be the right tone to make them look like shadow or a lack of light.  So they had to be not as light as the flowers but not as dark as the background and they had to look as though they were translucent as there is a lot of light within shadows!
The way to do this is to really look at the subject and to compare one tone against another.  Also the paint used to depict the shadows has to be quite watery in order that the petals' colour can still be visible through the shadows.

The final stage of the painting would resolve the tonality of the whole.  The background needed to be added so that it was a darker tone than the cast shadows and thus would make the top flower look bright and sunlit.

Final stage of Clematis painting with background added.

I made the background darkest right next to the top flower's petals and then allowed it to become lighter nearer the edge of the painting.  That way there was the maximum chance that the top flower would look sunny and would attract the eye as the focal point of the finished painting.
Once I had put the background in, I found that I had to adjust the tones within the leaf area, making the dark areas between the leaves and under the flowers even darker in places.  My dark mixes came in very handy here.

Tuesday, 14 August 2012

Making tone work for you in a painting (continued)

Continuing with the clematis painting...

Here I have laid in the first wash wet in wet.  At this stage it's just a case of dropping colours wet in wet in the right areas.  I've dabbed off with a tissue some of the colour from the petals in order to preserve the light.  I've already dropped in some quite dark colours away from the flowers to begin creating a sense of depth.

Now it was time to add some darker tones to the left hand side of the painting which depicts a tangle of stalks and leaves.  Some of the stalks have been masked out and I have painted negatively around others.  I dropped in colours in quite an intuitive way ( that's another way of saying I hadn't a clue what I was doing!)
using pinks, greens and the dark mix in the palette to give an impression of more flowers and leaves in the background.  I've left some leaves unpainted to make one or two stand out.  I'll be brining more leaves out with negative painting later.  You see that the flowers are starting to emerge from the background.

Here I've started painting the flowers, bringing one petal out against another and leaving plenty of areas white  because these flowers are sunlit and the colour will be bleached out in the lightest areas.  Already at this stage the painting has a good variety of different tones from white to dark green/blue.

Sunday, 12 August 2012

Making tonal contrasts work in a painting (continued)

Before we go any further, here's the finished painting so you can see where this is leading to.

Clematis catching the sun.

Here's my palette after mixing up some paints.  I have two pinks, (permanent rose and cobalt violet), two yellows (aureolin and raw sienna) a loosely mingled green mix of Winsor blue, quinacridone gold and aureolin and on the enamel plate you can see my dark mix.  This is Winsor blue, Q. gold and then some Winsor violet and some burnt sienna.  The colours are laid side by side and allowed to mingle a little so you can see their potential for use in the dark crevices between the very bright flowers and leaves.
That's how I'm going to achieve the tonal contrast and I really need these dark colours available from the start.
I then put a loose mix of alizarin crimson, burnt sienna and a touch of W. violet in the empty section of the palette (not visible here.) for the stamens and dark areas in the flowers.  So from the start the tones were an important indicator to inform my colour mixes.

My palette with colours mixed ready

Going to do some painting now but next time I'll show you the next stage which, after masking out the centres, will be laying in the first wash wet in wet.

Monday, 6 August 2012

Tonal contrast and how to make it work for you in a painting

Talking of TONE, this is a watercolour I painted over the last few days which might illustrate the subject.

I took this photo of some clematis in our garden last year.  I loved the cast shadow on the lower flowers and the tonal contrast between the sunlit top flower and the background.  Sunlit subjects always have these extremes of tone which make for an arresting image both in a photo and in a painting.

I made a drawing from the photo.  

Then I mixed my colours.  I put aureolin and raw sienna side by side for the yellows.  Permanent rose and cobalt violet for the pinks.  For the greens I loosely combined Winsor blue, quinacridone gold and aureolin.

When I mix my colours I think about all the elements in the painting and which colours I'm going to drop in for them.  And then I always have to think how I am going to mix my darks.  Because if you want to make a painting with plenty of tonal contrast and impact, then the darks very important.

How to mix darks without making the colours muddy???

Well I'll tell you how I do it next time!  And I 'll show you my palette with the colours mingled.