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.


  1. Ann such a lovely post with great tips on painting the tones and shadows. Thanks for sharing.

    1. You're very welcome Debbie. Nice of you to call by and leave a message. Thanks!


  2. Fantástica pintura y fantástico blog. Saludos.