Main Watercolor Workshop

Watercolor Workshop

Featuring essential techniques, warm-up exercises and inspiring projects with close-up, step-by-step photography and clear, encouraging text, this book is perfect for those who have always wanted to learn to paint with watercolors but don't know where to start.
Categories: Art\\Graphic Arts
Year: 2006
Edition: 1ST
Publisher: DK ADULT
Language: english
Pages: 128 / 130
ISBN 10: 0756619378
ISBN 13: 9780756619374
Series: PRACTICAL ART
File: PDF, 64.13 MB
Download (pdf, 64.13 MB)
Preview

You may be interested in

 

Most frequently terms

 
 
You can write a book review and share your experiences. Other readers will always be interested in your opinion of the books you've read. Whether you've loved the book or not, if you give your honest and detailed thoughts then people will find new books that are right for them.
1

Ninja Mind Control

Year: 2000
Language: english
File: PDF, 1.13 MB
2

Marine Microbiology: Ecology & Applications

Year: 2003
Language: english
File: PDF, 6.85 MB
LViZgXdadg
Ldg`h]de

SIMPLE STEPS TO SUCCESS

Watercolor
Workshop

Watercolor
Workshop

Glynis Barnes-Mellish

LONDON, NEW YORK, MELBOURNE,

Contents

MUNICH, DELHI
Editor Kathryn Wilkinson
Project Art Editor Anna Plucinska
Senior Editor Angela Wilkes
DTP Designer Adam Walker
Managing Editor Julie Oughton
Managing Art Editor Heather McCarry
Production Controller Wendy Penn
US Editor Jenny Siklós
Photography Andy Crawford
First American Edition, 2006
Published in the United States by
DK Publishing, Inc., 375 Hudson Street,
New York, New York 10014
05 06 07 08 09 10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1
Copyright © Dorling Kindersley Limited 2005
All rights reserved under International and Pan-American
Copyright Conventions. No part of this publication may
be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted
in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical,
photocopying, recording or otherwise, without the prior
written permission of the copyright owner. Published in
Great Britain by Dorling Kindersley Limited.
A Cataloguing-in-Publication record for this book is
available from the Library of Congress.
ISBN-13: 978-0-7566-1937-4
ISBN-10: 0-7566-1937-8
DK books are available at special discounts for bulk
purchases for sales promotions, premiums, fund-raising,
or educational use. For details, contact: DK Publishing
Special Markets, 375 Hudson Street, New York, NY 10014
or SpecialSales@dk.com
Printed and bound in China
by Hung Hing Offset Printing Company Ltd

Discover more at

www.dk.com

Introduction

Materials & Techniques
Paint and other materials
Paper
Brushes
Brushstrokes
Color wheel
Color mixing
Color blends
Useful color mixes
Washes
Building a painting
Paint effects
Composition
Sketching

6
10
12
14
16
18
20
22
24
26
28
30
32
34
36

Color
Vibrant colors
Gallery
1 Tuscan landscape
2 Ballet shoes
3 Cherries

Tone
Light and dark
Gallery
4 Geese in the park
5 Peony in a jar
6 Boats on a canal

Perspective
Creating depth with color

38
40
42
44
48
52
56
58
60
62
66
70
76
78

Gallery
7 Field gate
8 Wild hare
9;  Street scene

80
82
86
92

Focus

98
100
102
104
110
116

Focal point
Gallery
10 Chair by window
11 Cliffs and beach
12 Portrait

Glossary
Index
Acknowledgments

122
126
128

Introduction
Watercolor has a translucency unmatched by any
other type of paint. The white paper shows through
the brushstrokes, making the painting shine from
within. It is this luminosity that enables you as a
watercolorist to convey light uniquely: you can
breathe life into portraits with glowing skin tones
and capture the effects of scudding clouds, rain,
or sunshine in skies and landscapes.

Clear, fresh, and colorful
When mixed with water, watercolor paints flow so
freely that they continue to shift and change until
completely dry. You can use this fluidity to create an
expressive range of marks and textures, considered or
spontaneous. For subjects such as skin, fruit, or glass,

 | INTRODUCTION

which require a sensitive approach, you can use soft,
blended strokes. At other times you may choose to
work slowly, leaving each application of paint to dry
before adding the next. Each layer shimmers through
subsequent applications, creating gauzy veils of color.
When you paint “wet on dry” in this way, the results
are controllable, allowing for precise and highly
detailed work. Alternatively, you can think in color
and compose with the paint, drawing with broad,
loose, personal strokes. When you work quickly
and boldly, using strokes economically, the medium
responds with a pleasing clarity. While many effects

can be planned, sometimes watercolors react
unpredictably and the results are unexpected. This
spontaneity may at first seem daunting, but you can
turn it to your advantage. If you exploit the effects
of the accidental spread of the watercolor, rather than
creating every mark yourself, the medium will reward
you with fresh and original paintings. There are many
ways to work in watercolor and the right method is
the one that suits you, which may change according
to your mood, experience, and subject matter.
Experimenting is the key to creating successful
watercolor paintings in your own unique style.

Introduction | 

Learning about watercolor
The aim of this book is to provide a foundation
for painting in watercolor, with advice on the key
elements of picturemaking and the techniques
specific to this exciting medium. You can read the
book and follow the exercises and projects as a
beginners’ course from start to finish, since each
chapter builds on the previous one. Alternatively,
you can dip in and study individual sections on
subjects or techniques that particularly interest you.
Either way, the hands-on approach means that you
paint from the start and produce appealing images

with just a few strokes. Because painting with
watercolors and using color go hand in hand, the
four chapters that follow on from the materials and
techniques section each introduce an increasingly
sophisticated way of using color, supported by a
gallery of paintings by Old Masters and contemporary
artists. The 12 projects make use of the basic
techniques you have practiced and give you the
opportunity to learn new ones as you are led, step
by step, to finished paintings on a range of subjects.
As your confidence with watercolor grows, so will
your appreciation of its radiance and versatility.

Materials and Techniques

12 | MATERIALS AND TECHNIQUES

Paint and other materials
You can buy watercolor paints in a vast array of
colors, which can vary in form and quality. The
two main forms of watercolor paint are tubes of
fluid pigment and solid blocks called pans. “Artists’
colors” are the highest quality watercolor paints.

These contain greater quantities of fine pigment than
“Students’ colors” and are more transparent so create
more luminous paintings. It is a good idea to limit
the range of colors that you buy to start off with
and invest in the more expensive Artists’ colors.

Recommended colors
The ten paints below make up a good basic starter palette.
You do not need to buy a larger selection because these
paints can be successfully mixed together to create a wide
range of colors.
Cadmium yellow

Alizarin crimson

Cerulean blue

Sap green

Burnt sienna

Cobalt blue

Raw sienna

Cadmium red

Burnt umber

French ultramarine

Types of paint
Tubes of paint are usually stronger than
pans. They squeeze easily onto a palette
and are quick to mix, making them good
for large washes.

Half-pans, and the larger pans, can be bought
individually or in paintboxes. They are small and
portable, so useful for painting outdoors.

Paintboxes are a convenient way of
storing and transporting half-pans or
pans. The lids can be used as palettes.

Paint and other materials | 13

other materials
There is no need to buy a huge number of
brushes to paint with; the range below will
enable you to create a wide variety of effects.
Aside from paints, paper, and brushes, keep

paper towels on hand for mopping up spills and
blotting out mistakes, and jars of water for mixing
paints and cleaning brushes. You may also find
some of the additional equipment below useful.

2 in (50 mm) hake

1 in (25 mm) flat

in (12.5 mm) flat
1⁄
2

No. 14 round

Flat Brushes

No. 9 round with squirrel hair

No. 9 round

No. 5 round

Round Brushes

Additional equipment

Well palettes
have several
compartments so
that you can mix
different colors
without them running
into each other.

Soft B pencils
are useful for
preliminary
drawings.

Putty erasers are soft
and don’t damage the
surface of paper.

Masking tape is used to attach paper
to a drawing board and give a painting
a crisp edge.

Craft knives are for
sharpening pencils and
making highlights.

Natural sponges
are useful for
mopping up excess
paint and for creating
textural effects.

Masking fluid covers
areas of paper to keep
them white. Once it is
removed, the paper can
be painted as normal.

14 | MATERIALS AND TECHNIQUES

Paper
Paper is made from linen or cotton fibers or wood pulp.
To make paper less absorbent and create a surface
that can hold washes and brushstrokes, size is added.
Lighter weight papers have less size so may need to be

stretched first to keep them from buckling. You can
buy paper with a variety of surfaces and in a range of
weights, so try to buy single sheets of paper until you
have decided which type suits you.

TYPES OF Paper
There are three main types of paper surface:
hot-pressed paper has a hard, smooth surface;
cold-pressed, or NOT, paper has a slight texture;
and rough paper has been allowed to dry without

Rough paper has a heavy texture.
It is very versatile and good for a
wide range of effects.

The right side of the paper
has a watermark, but most
good papers can be used
on either side.

Toned papers As watercolors are transparent,
they work best on white paper, although most papers
have a slight tint. Toned papers affect the color of
the paint.

pressing. Paper weights are given in lbs (pounds
per ream) or gsm (grams per square meter). The
choice ranges from light paper, which weighs
90 lb (190 gsm), to heavy 300 lb (638 gsm) paper.

Cold-pressed paper is smoother than
rough paper but is still textured. It is
the best paper for general use.

Paper is sold in sheets
that measure 30 in
(76.2 cm) x 22 in (55.9 cm).

Watercolor blocks Blocks of paper are
good for using on location, as you do not
need a drawing board. They are glued on all
four sides, so do not require stretching.

Hot-pressed paper is very
smooth. It is good for detail but
is best avoided by beginners.

PAINT ON PAPER
The type of paper you use has a marked effect on a painting.
These three sunset paintings were all created using the same
techniques, but were painted on the three different types of
paper: hot-pressed, cold-pressed, and rough. As a result, the
finished paintings look quite different from each other.
The washes have a hard edge.

Hot-pressed paper Washes are difficult to
control on this paper and tend to dry with hard
edges on the top of the slippery surface. This
paper is better for a more linear subject.

Cold-pressed paper This is the easiest paper
to use as the surface is good for broad, even
washes. This type of paper is also suitable for
paintings with fine detail and brushwork.

Even gradation and
smooth marks.

Rough paper This paper can be quite difficult
to use but reacts well to a bold approach. Washes
are often broken by the paper’s surface, which is
useful when a textured effect is desired.

The wash breaks up
on the pitted surface.

stretching Paper

Lay the paper, right side up, on a strong wooden board. Squeeze clean
water from a sponge onto the paper so that it is thoroughly wet. Tip the
board to let any excess water run off.

Stick each side of the paper down with damp gummed tape, overlapping it at
the corners. Smooth the tape with a sponge. Let the paper dry naturally so it
becomes flat. Keep the paper on the board until your painting is finished.

16 | MATERIALS AND TECHNIQUES

Brushes
Traditional watercolor brushes are made from soft
hair and those made from sable are considered the
best. Sable brushes are expensive, however, so when
buying a first set of brushes, look for synthetic and

synthetic/sable blends, which have been developed to
mimic pure sable. Whatever a brush is made from, it
should point well and hold its shape, be able to hold
a generous amount of paint, and be supple and springy.

Rounds and flats
Round brushes are conical and can be shaped into
a fine point. They are numbered: the larger the
brush, the higher its number. Flat brushes are
wide and have straight ends. Their size is given by

an imperial or metric measurement. Use the rounds
and flats in the recommended brush selection (see
p.13) to enable you to create a wide range of strokes
from fine lines to broad washes, as below.
No. 5 round is perfect
for very fine lines and
small details.

No. 9 round is suitable
for both general use
and detail.

No. 14 round is good for
general use; it holds more
paint than a No. 9.

No. 9 round with squirrel
hair is useful for softening
edges.

⁄ in (12.5 mm) flat is handy
for creating sharp edges
and lines.
12

1 in (25 mm) flat is ideal
for making a single stroke
across the paper, useful
when laying washes.

2 in (50 mm) hake, made
from goat’s hair, is excellent
for broad washes and for
covering large areas quickly.

Brushes | 17

Brushstrokes
Watercolor brushstrokes should be smooth and
flowing. Practice relaxing your hand and wrist so
that you can make continuous strokes, letting the
brush do the work. Try using the brush at

different angles and speeds. All the brushstrokes
below were made with a No. 14. It is a good idea
to use a large brush for as long as possible in your
paintings to avoid creating fussy brushmarks.

Upright brush

Slanting brush

Low brush

To make the thinnest possible line, hold the brush
upright and only use the point.

To create a medium-width line, lower the angle of
the brush to use the center of the hairs.

To produce the widest possible mark, press down
so that you are using the full width of the brush.

Varying strokes
To create a long, solid stroke,
move the brush slowly over the
paper, letting the paint flow.
To make a fine, continuous line,
hold the brush upright and just
use the tip.

To make a petal-like mark, press
the whole shape of the hairs
down onto the paper.
To gradually lighten a mark,
slowly lift off the brush as you
move across the paper.

To create a broken, textured
effect, drag the side of the brush
quickly over the paper.

To make an expressive mark,
speed up. Fast strokes are often
straighter than slow ones.

To produce an undulating stroke,
twist the brush rhythmically as
you draw it across the paper.

To create this pattern, vary the
pressure of your stroke as you
cross the paper.

18 | MATERIALS AND TECHNIQUES

Brushstrokes
Try holding your brushes at different angles and
varying the speed and pressure of your brushstrokes
to create a variety of marks, as below. This will
improve your brush control so that you become more

relaxed and confident when painting. Trying
out different brushstrokes will also help you
to discover the range of effects you can make
using round or flat brushes.

visual effects

Use the tip of a round brush and
short, regular strokes to create
even lines.

Apply heavier pressure, using the
central hairs of a round brush, to
create thicker lines.

Use the width of a flat brush to
create short blocks of color with
straight edges.

Start using the width of a flat
brush, then twist as you make the
stroke so you finish on the edge.

Press back on the base of a
round brush to make a wedgeshaped mark.

Press down on the tip of a large
round brush to create round dots
of color.

Use the width of a flat brush, then
press back on the base to create
this textured effect.

Use the edge of a flat brush
to make a series of regular
straight lines.

Use the side of a round brush and
overlapping strokes to create a
large, irregular shape.

Use the tip of a round brush and
lightly touch the paper to create
a stippled effect.

Roll a round brush on its side
across the paper to create a
mottled, irregular shape.

Use the edge of a flat brush
and make quick, even strokes to
create hatch marks.

Vary the angle at which you hold
a round brush to create these two
different shapes.

Make short twists with a round
brush, releasing pressure so that
they finish in points.

Use the tip of a round brush and
even pressure to create these
curved strokes.

Vary the pressure and angle at
which you hold a flat brush to
create these curved strokes.

Brushstrokes | 19

applying Strokes
It is easy to create simple images with just a few
brushstrokes. Try out the individual marks that
are painted on this page, then put them together
to make a flower, a penguin, and a fish.
Use a flat brush and a controlled
sweep to paint the long leaves,
then press the whole shape of a
round brush onto the paper to
form the petals. Finally, use the tip
of the round brush for details.

Use a round brush to make the
long strokes of the penguin’s body
and wings, petal-like shapes for
the feet, and stippling detail.

Make a curved stroke to
suggest the fish’s body, then use a
fine brush for stippling and to create
the long strokes of its whiskers.

20 | MATERIALS AND TECHNIQUES

Color wheel
The color wheel is a classic device that shows how
the six main colors—red, purple, blue, orange, green,
and yellow—relate to one another. The color wheel
contains the three primary colors and three secondary
colors. Primary colors—red, yellow, and blue—

cannot be mixed from any other colors. Secondary
colors—orange, purple, and green—are mixed from
two primary colors. The colors between the primary
and secondary colors on the wheel are known as
intermediate colors.
Reddish orange
(intermediate)

Red (primary)

Yellowish orange
(intermediate)

Reddish purple
(intermediate)

Yellow
(primary)
Orange
(secondary)

Purple
(secondary)

Green
(secondary)

Yellowish green
(intermediate)

Bluish purple
(intermediate)

Blue (primary)

Bluish green (intermediate)

Color wheel | 21

Primary colors

secondary colors
Red is one of the
strongest hues and
can easily overpower
other colors.

Green is made from
yellow and blue, so it
neither appears to
dominate or recede.
Yellow is the lightest
tone, so appears to
recede when placed
next to other colors.

Purple is made from
red and blue, so is
strong but doesn’t
overpower other colors.
Blue is a very
dominant color
and will not be
overpowered.

Orange is made from
red and yellow, so will
lighten any color it is
mixed with.

22 | MATERIALS AND TECHNIQUES

Color mixing
It is easy to mix watercolor paints to make
new colors, both in a palette and on paper. The
recommended basic palette of ten colors (see p.12
and below) includes the three primary colors, green,
and browns, so you will be able to mix a wide range

of colors. There are several shades of some colors;
for example, there are two reds: cadmium red and
the bluer alizarin crimson. The different shades of
a color react differently when mixed with other colors,
increasing the range of colors you can create.

Lightening colors
By varying the amount of water you add to paint,
you can create a range of different shades from
light to dark. If you want the paint to retain its

translucency, you should always make colors
lighter by adding water rather than white paint,
which makes colors opaque.

Cadmium yellow

Alizarin crimson

Cerulean blue

Sap green

Burnt sienna

Cobalt blue

Raw sienna

Cadmium red

Burnt umber

French ultramarine

Color mixing | 23

Mixing colors on a palette
Squeeze a small amount of paint from a tube
onto your palette. Dip a brush into a jar of clean
water, then mix the water with the paint. Add
more water until you have the color you want.

Rinse your brush after mixing each new color
and keep the water in your mixing jar clean. To
blend two colors, mix the dominant color with
water, then gradually add the second color.

Make sure the dish or
palette you are using
has room to dissolve
the pigment in a
smooth puddle.

Watercolors look lighter when dry, so it is a good idea to test
colors on a spare piece of paper, or around the edge of your
color test sheet (see p.37), before using them in a painting.

Use a white palette or dish,
or a glass plate with white
paper underneath, so you can
see the color you are mixing.

Mixing colors on paper
Mix two different colors with water in separate
wells in your palette. Paint the first color onto
your paper with a clean brush. While this is still
wet, add the second color and it will mix on the
paper to create a new color. Sometimes when you

mix two colors, they will look grainy. This
granulation occurs when the paints mixed have
different weight pigments from each other. Try
mixing colors to see which ones granulate. The
effect is good for creating textures.

Granulation

French ultramarine mixed with alizarin crimson
granulates a little.

Cerulean blue mixed with alizarin crimson
granulates a lot.

Cobalt blue mixed with alizarin crimson does
not granulate.

French ultramarine mixed with raw sienna
granulates a little.

Cerulean blue mixed with raw sienna granulates
a lot.

Cobalt blue mixed with raw sienna does not
granulate.

24 | MATERIALS AND TECHNIQUES

Color blends
Practice mixing the ten colors in your basic palette
to see how many new colors you can make. Try
mixing combinations of two and three colors: don’t use
more than three colors as the end result will be muddy.

It is a good idea to mix the paints on paper and
label the color swatches that you create, as below,
so that you have a record of which colors mix
well together.

Mixing two colors
As you experiment with your paints, you will see that
some colors mix together more successfully than
others. For example, French ultramarine mixed with
alizarin crimson produces a pleasing, warm mauve,

but if you use cadmium red instead of alizarin
crimson, you get a muddy purple. Here, you can
see examples of some of the best mixes that
can be made from your basic palette.

color mixes

Cerulean blue and cadmium yellow make a soft green.

Cerulean blue and alizarin crimson make a soft lilac.

Sap green and cadmium yellow make a sharp lime green.

Burnt sienna and French ultramarine make a warm brown.

French ultramarine and burnt umber make a very dark brown.

Sap green and cadmium red make a sharp medium brown.

French ultramarine and alizarin crimson make a warm mauve.

Cerulean blue and raw sienna make a turquoise.

Color blends | 25

blacks and browns
There is no need to buy black watercolor paint, as
you can make dark brown and black by mixing red,
blue, and yellow. By using different shades of the
primary colors, you can make a range of dark colors.

Raw
sienna

Alizarin crimson

Cobalt blue

Colorful dark Alizarin
crimson and raw sienna are
strong pigments and make
a vibrant, medium dark.
Cadmium yellow
Alizarin crimson

Warm dark The
opaque cadmium
yellow overpowers
the transparent
cobalt blue to make
a lighter toned dark.

Cobalt blue

Raw
sienna

Alizarin crimson

French ultramarine

Burnt umber

Alizarin crimson

French ultramarine
Black Using French
ultramarine and burnt
umber together in this mix
creates a velvety rich black.

Soft dark All three
colors have a warm, red bias,
making the mixed color very
soft and subtle.

26 | MATERIALS AND TECHNIQUES

Useful color mixes
Some colors look better if you make them by mixing
your paints rather than attempting to buy a tube or
pan of the color. Greens are often the color painters
have most trouble with, but you can mix them very

successfully. Skin colors may also seem difficult, but
you can make a wide range of realistic skin tones for
any skin color with mixes of just four colors from your
basic palette.

mixing greens
The range of greens that appears in the natural
world is vast. However, there are few sources of
green pigment and many of the manufactured
green paints that you can buy are strong and lack

the subtlety of natural greens. To expand your
range of greens, mix bought greens with blue or
yellow, or create your own by mixing blue and
yellow or blue and orange.

green variations

Add cadmium orange to sap green to make a
sharp medium green.

Mix French ultramarine and cadmium orange to
make a very soft gray-green.

Add cadmium yellow to sap green to make a
yellowy green.

Add alizarin crimson to viridian to make a
warm green.

Add cadmium yellow to viridian to make a strong,
light, very acid green.

Add French ultramarine to Hooker’s green to
make a cool green.

Add cobalt blue to sap green to make a warm
dark green.

Mix cerulean blue and cadmium yellow to make a
dense cool green.

Add cadmium yellow to emerald green to make
a strong medium green.

Useful color mixes | 27

Skin Tones
All skin tones, from the palest to the darkest of
complexions, are made up of a combination of
three colors: red, yellow, and blue. Therefore,
it is possible to mix all skin colors with a very

limited selection of paints: raw sienna, alizarin
crimson, cerulean blue, and cadmium red.
When you paint skin, remember it is reflective
so will also be affected by the colors around it.

Pure colors

Raw sienna

Raw sienna and alizarin crimson make a soft, even
skin tone, which can be used for all skin types.

Alizarin crimson

Cerulean blue

Cool down a raw sienna and alizarin crimson mix
with cerulean blue to help model a face.

Cadmium red

Raw sienna and cadmium red make a strong color
suitable for tanned or dark skin.

Layering colors wet on dry creates luminous skin tones,
which can be softened with water, as on the right-hand side.

Alizarin crimson is
used on the side of
the face.

Color mixes

Raw sienna and alizarin
crimson

Warmer colors are
used down the center
of the face.

Dark tones mixed from
pink, yellow, and blue
look soft.

Raw sienna and cerulean
blue

Alizarin crimson and
cerulean blue
Portrait of a man This
face has been painted
using raw sienna, alizarin
crimson, cerulean blue, and
cadmium red. The colors
have been built up slowly
from light to dark to create
a radiant face.

Raw sienna, alizarin
crimson, and cerulean blue

28 | MATERIALS AND TECHNIQUES

Washes
Washes are the foundation of watercolor painting,
as they are the first application of paint to the paper,
whether as a tinted ground or a large painted area.
Laying a wash, therefore, is a vital technique to

master. Once you have practiced producing a smooth,
flat wash in a single color, you can vary the basic
technique to create graded washes, variegated washes,
and broken washes.

flat wash

Dampen the paper and tilt your drawing board
slightly. With a large flat brush, paint a band
across the top of the paper.

Starting at the other side of the paper, paint the
next band so that it overlaps the first. Repeat to
the bottom of the paper. Dry with the paper tilted.

In a flat wash, the bands of paint blend together
while they are still wet to create a smooth wash
of uniform color.

Add more water to your paint and repeat.
Continue to dilute the paint for each band of
paint, until you reach the bottom. Allow to dry.

A graded wash becomes progressively lighter
toward the bottom, as each band of paint is
more diluted than the previous one.

graded wash

Dampen the paper and lay a wash across the
top. Immediately add water to the paint and add
another band of paint at the base of the first band.

Variegated wash

Paint two bands of a wash at the
top of the damp paper. Load your
brush with a different color and
paint this below the first color.

Broken wash

Let the bands of paint blend on the
paper. To produce a more colorful
result, introduce a different color
with each new stroke.

Hold your brush low on the paper
so that you drag the color over the
surface, letting the paper’s texture
break up the bands of paint.

You can vary the position of
the broken marks by letting the
brush glance across the paper in
different places to create texture.

Washes | 29

Using washes
Below you can see some of the many different
ways in which washes can be used. While a
flat wash is good for painting large areas and
backgrounds, more complex washes can express

mood or be used for natural elements. Graded
washes, for example, give skies a sense of depth.
Variegated washes, on the other hand, are
excellent for colorful sunsets.

The flat wash of
cerulean blue has
created a calm
background sky.

Addng a few details
to the boat brings
action and purpose
to the scene.

Combining washes
A flat wash of cerulean
blue has been painted
on the top third of the
paper and allowed to
dry evenly. The lower
part of the painting
is created with a
broken wash.

Flat wash

The flat background wash makes the
colors of the flower really stand out
in contrast.

The texture of the
broken wash is good
for sea and contrasts
with the calm sky.

Graded wash

The neutral, graded background wash
is pale at the bottom, making the leaves
and jar stand out.

Variegated wash

The variegated background wash is
colorful and suggests an area of interest
behind the flower.

30 | MATERIALS AND TECHNIQUES

Building a painting
Watercolor paintings can be built up by adding layers
of paint either to paint that has already dried—wet on
dry—or to color that is still wet—wet-in-wet. Laying
down paint wet on dry produces vivid colors with
strong edges. You can paint wet on dry with a high

level of accuracy so it is a good technique to choose
when painting detail. Wet-in-wet is more immediate
and the results, produced as the colors blend, are
softer and less predictable. Wet-in-wet is useful for
backgrounds and the early stages of a painting.

wet or dry?
Try out these two techniques to see the effects
they produce. Practicing will also help you to
judge how wet or dry your paper is, which helps
you to anticipate the effect your painting will

produce. If paint is added to a wash before it is
completely dry, particularly on smooth paper, it
may cause backruns as the second color runs
into the first and dries in blotches with hard edges.

Wet on dry

Wet-in-wet

Paint cadmium orange onto dry paper. When the paint is completely
dry, add strokes of cadmium red. The red paint retains the shape of the
brushstrokes, with strong edges, but lets the orange show through.

Wet the paper with a large brush and wait for the sheen to go off. Paint an
orange mix on the paper, followed immediately by strokes of red. The red
paint merges with the orange so its shape is far less defined.

Backrun with water

BACkrun with paint

Paint a red wash and allow it to half dry. While the paper is still damp, add
spots of water with the tip of a round brush. The water pushes the red paint
out to create circles.

Paint an orange wash and allow to half dry. Drop in a watery mix of red. The
red runs back into the orange to create cauliflowerlike shapes with hard
edges and diluted centers that let the orange show through.

Wet-in-wet study
As painting wet-in-wet is not predictable, it
is a good idea to practice studies whenever
you can. Here, the method has been used to
quickly capture the head of a tiger and paint
the soft texture of its thick, colorful fur.
The background
is painted with
raw sienna

The strong mix of
burnt sienna creates
the texture of the fur.

The stripes of burnt umber
are added when the paint
has dried a little.

backrun study
Backruns sometimes appear by mistake, but
you can use them to enhance your paintings.
Because of their spontaneity, use backruns

when you are free to interpret the marks you
end up with. Here cauliflowerlike shapes have
been made into autumnal leaves.

Washes of raw sienna,
alizarin crimson, and
sap green are painted
side by side.

Water dropped into the
middle of the wash flows
out toward the edges.

Once the wash is dry,
look for shapes you
can interpret.

32 | MATERIALS AND TECHNIQUES

Paint effects
You can add texture and interest to your paintings with
a number of special effects. These include splattering
and sponging, and techniques using materials that
resist the flow of paint on the paper and make it dry in
a striking pattern, as when tinfoil or salt are used. As

the results of these methods can be unpredictable,
have fun experimenting with them and build up the
range you can use in your paintings. Try using plastic
wrap to create the ripples on water, salt to make snow
or ice, and splattering and sponging for foliage.

splattering on dry paint

splattering on wet paint

Paint a wash of cerulean blue mixed with sap green and let it dry. Load
a brush with Windsor violet, then flick this brush over the wash. The
splattered paint dries as rings with hard edges and light centers.

Paint a turquoise wash, and while the paint is wet, flick on Windsor violet to
produce soft, mottled blobs with colorful centers. The effect achieved will
vary depending on how wet the wash is when the second color is applied.

feathering

glazing

Paint horizontal lines with water. While the paper is still wet, drag a brush
with turquoise paint down the paper, across the lines of water. Vary the
amount of water and pressure used to make different textures.

Paint a wash of cadmium yellow and let it dry. Paint two bands of translucent
color—a cerulean blue and sap green mix and alizarin crimson—over the
yellow and the unpainted paper. The paint glazed on the yellow looks brighter.

Paint effects | 33

using salt

sponging

Drop salt crystals onto an alizarin crimson wash and let it dry. Brush off the
salt to reveal the shapes made by the salt absorbing the paint. The effect will
vary depending on how wet the paint is and how much salt you use.

Dip a natural sponge into a wash of alizarin crimson, then press the
sponge onto dry watercolor paper. The mottled marks you make will
vary depending on the amount of paint used and how hard you press.

using Plastic wrap

Paint a Windsor violet wash. While wet, scrunch up some plastic wrap and
press it onto the paper. Let the paint dry before removing the wrap, so that
the paint keeps the hard edges formed where the wrap has touched it.

scraping back
Paint the rough shapes of a loose stone wall using
a mix of cerulean blue and burnt umber, letting the
colors blend. While the paint is wet, scrape out the
shapes of the stones using a plastic strip—such as
an old credit card—to remove the wet paint.

using tinfoil

Press tinfoil into wet paint using the same technique used for plastic
wrap. The effect is stronger than that produced by plastic wrap, but you
cannot see the effect being made while the paint is drying.

34 | MATERIALS AND TECHNIQUES

Composition
When planning a painting, you have to decide what
you want to focus on in your picture and what you
want to leave out. Simplicity is the key to success
when you start painting, and editing will strengthen

your composition. You will also need to choose where
you position the different elements of your painting.
In a successful composition, they will be placed so
that they lead the viewer into the painting.

ViewFinder
Use a viewfinder as a framing device that you can
move in front of your subject to help you visualize
how it will look in a variety of compositions. You
can make a simple viewfinder by holding two
L-shaped pieces of tagboard to make a rectangle,
as shown on the right. You can change the
shape and size of the rectangle by moving
the pieces of board closer to each other or
further apart.

Slide the corners of the
board in and out to frame
and crop the picture.

Format
Deciding what format—shape of paper—to use
is an important part of planning a composition.
The three paintings below show how the choice
of format can direct attention to different focal

points. The formats used for this study are:
portrait (a vertical rectangle, higher than it
is wide), landscape (a horizontal rectangle,
wider than it is high), and square.

Landscape format The horizontal nature of this
picture draws attention to the colorful shed doors and
angles of the trees. The building on the left directs the
eye to to the center of the composition.

Portrait format The large amount of space given to
the foreground in this design leads the eye along the
road and into the picture.

Square format Here the roofs and doorways
have been included. The trees on the left act as
a counterpoint to this detail on the right and help
to create a balanced composition.

Composition | 35

Using the Rule of Thirds

Put objects on the vertical
lines rather than in the
center of the picture.

To help you plan your composition and give
it visual impact, try using the rule of thirds.
Divide your paper into thirds both vertically
and horizontally to make a nine-box grid. At first
you may want to draw these lines on the paper
with a pencil, but with practice, the grid can be
imaginary. For maximum effect, position the
main elements of your design on the lines. Place
the horizon line, for example, a third up from
the bottom or a third down, and use the points
where the lines intersect for your areas of interest.

Put your focal point where
two lines cross.

The focal point, the face, has been
placed where two lines intersect.

Girl in artist’s studio This painting of a figure in a clutter of
objects and colors could have looked quite chaotic, but because the
areas of interest have been placed according to the rule of thirds,
the composition is well balanced and pleasing to the eye.

The lines of the chair draw the eye
into an otherwise empty area.

36 | MATERIALS AND TECHNIQUES

Sketching
Simple sketches are very useful when planning
a watercolor painting. You can develop rough ideas,
sketched in pencil, into compositions, and use
watercolor sketches to help you plan the colors you
want to use and to practice marks and color mixes.

Use a sketchbook to keep all your ideas together and to
record things you see that inspire you, so that you build
up your own valuable reference. Copy out developed
compositions onto watercolor paper and use the
pencil lines as a guide when you begin painting.

Using Sketchbooks
Many sketchbooks contain cartridge paper
with a smooth surface. This is fine for pencil
sketches, but if you want to use soft pencils,
graphite sticks, and watercolor to sketch
with, choose a sketchbook that contains paper
with a slightly rough surface. It is a good idea
to buy a pocket-size sketchbook and carry this
around so that you can sketch whenever you
are inspired.

Project sketch

The drawing is done lightly,
as it will remain under the
washes and brushmarks of
the finished painting.
Don’t use watercolor paper
for planning sketches, as
alterations and erasings will
damage the paper’s surface.

A sketch for the Cherries
project (see pp.52–55) was
copied onto watercolor
paper before painting began.

Quick color sketch

Planning a composition

Quick color sketches, such as this one of a lemon, are a good way
to experiment with different color combinations and techniques.

This sketch has been used to plan which colors to use in a painting. Just a
few brushstokes are sufficient.

Sketching | 37

Color test sheets
This page from a sketchbook shows the marks
and sketches that were made when planning the
Cherries project (see pp.52–55). Color mixes
were tested and techniques such as wet-in-wet

and softening were practiced to help discover
the best way of painting the cherries. Test sheets
often influence the final design of a painting, as
they highlight interesting and successful effects.

Softening edges
produces interesting
shaded effects.

Broken brushstrokes
look different on
damp and dry paper.

Very diluted paint dries
with hard outlines.

Painting wet-in-wet
creates soft marks
with blurred edges.

Color
“Complementary colors
make each other appear
more vibrant.”

40 | Color

Vibrant colors
To create a really vibrant painting, you need to plan
which colors to use. If you try to reproduce all the
colors you see in front of you, they end up vying
with each other, a bit like all the instruments in
an orchestra playing at once. If, on the other hand,

you try limiting the colors you use in a painting to
complementary opposites, such as red and green, you
will find that the colors make each other appear more
vibrant. The reds will look much more red and the
greens will appear more intensely green.

complementary colors
There are three primary colors: red, yellow, and
blue. These are colors that can’t be made by
mixing other colors together. Green, orange,
and purple are called secondary colors. Each
of these is made by mixing two primary colors
together. Green, for example, is made by mixing
blue and yellow together. Complementary
colors are pairs of color that are across from each
other on the color wheel. The complementary
color of any secondary color, therefore, is the
primary color it does not contain.

+

=

Yellow and red make
orange, so blue is the
complementary of orange.

+

=

Blue and yellow make
green, so red is the
complementary of green.

+

=

Red and blue make
purple, so yellow is the
complementary of purple.

colorful neutrals
If you mix two complementary colors together
in equal proportions, they produce a neutral
color. By varying the proportions of the mix,
you can create a harmonious range of neutral
grays and browns. These neutrals are far more

luminous and colorful than ready-mixed grays
and browns, and are excellent for creating areas
of tone. If your painting is based around red and
green, for example, the areas of tone would be
made from varying mixes of red and green.

Primary colors

Neutrals

Complementary
secondary colors

Vibrant colors | 41

harmonious paintings
Color is one of the most direct ways of
expression available to you when you paint.
The instant you use colors together, they form
an association with one another that helps to

suggest the mood of the painting. Limiting
colors to complementary opposites enables you
to create simple, vibrant paintings with a range
of harmonious tones.

Red and green

Yellow and purple

The reflective
yellow contrasts
with the dark
purple.

The green body
of the T-shirt
makes the red
arms stand out.

Red is a forceful color and is made more vibrant here
by its proximity to green. The boy’s pose is relaxed but
the liveliness of the red hints at his boisterous nature.

Yellow is a reflective color and here it is used in the dancers’ skirts to reflect
the glare of strong stage lighting. Counterbalancing the yellow with purple
highlights the illuminated skirts and helps to ground the dancers’ feet.

Blue and orange

Orange and blue have
been mixed together to
create a range of green
neutrals for the trees.

The dominance of blue
in this scene suggests
cold, still mountain air,
in contrast with the
orange areas that
suggest sunshine
and warmth.

42 | Color

Gallery

Complementary colors make each other appear more vibrant
and can be used to create simple, harmonious paintings.

 Corn
Painting the orange-yellow ear of corn in
the foreground against a complementary
blue sky makes it really stand out. The use
of yellow and purple, and red and green
elsewhere adds vibrancy. Peter Williams

 Tuscan house

 Sunflowers

The orange and yellow house is
surrounded by complementary blues
and lilacs. The use of complementary
blue for the window draws attention
through the foreground to the house.
Glynis Barnes-Mellish

This bold, loose painting shows a
controlled use of complementary
colors. The strong splash of yellow
is heightened by the flowers’ purple
centers, and the green leaves balance
the reds. Phyllis McDowell

Gallery | 43

 Autumn leaves
The use of reds and greens next to each other in this painting
makes the colors of the leaves more intense and helps to
differentiate them from one another. Glynis Barnes-Mellish

 Goldfish pond
While the composition of this
painting is simple, the use of
complementary colors means
that it is anything but dull.
The bright red goldfish appear
stunningly vibrant, a result of
them being positioned among
strong green lilies.
Robert McIntosh

 Church in field
This atmospheric scene
makes use of two sets of
complementary colors. The
soft use of blues and purples
in this painting suggests cloud
and mist and is balanced by
the complementary yellows
and oranges of winter sunlight.
Phyllis McDowell

44 | COLOR

1 Tuscan landscape
At first sight, landscapes look both colorful and rather complex, especially if they
are made up of many different shades of green. In this painting, however, orange
and blue—complementary colors—are used not only to create a dramatic and
vibrant composition, but are also mixed together to make a harmonious range of
neutral greens and grays. The sky makes up two thirds of the painting and a basic
flat wash is used to great effect to capture the appearance of a deep blue sky on a
still, hot summer’s day.

Equipment
• Cold-pressed paper
• Masking tape
• 4B pencil
• Brushes: No. 14, 1 in (25
mm) flat, hake, squirrel
• Kitchen towel
• Cobalt blue, cadmium
orange, French
ultramarine, cadmium
red, burnt sienna

Techniques
• Flat wash
• Graded wash

preparation

1

Use the hake brush to wet
the paper in horizontal
lines, starting at the top
of the picture area and
working down to the
horizon line. Mop up any
excess water with a clean
paper towel.

Lightly sketch the outlines of the composition with a
soft (4B) pencil, to act as a guide for your painting.

Stick masking tape around the edges of the picture
area. This will define the edges of the painting and
will help to keep them clean.

BUILDING THE IMAGE

2

Mix a generous amount of cobalt blue on your palette, enough for a
wash. When the wet paper has lost its sheen, load the 1 in (25 mm)
flat brush with cobalt blue and apply a flat wash of color for the sky.

1 Tuscan landscape | 45

3

Use a squirrel brush that has been dipped in water to
soften the lower edge of the wash and to bring the blue
down onto the trees along the road.

Graded wash
As the cobalt blue is still
wet, the second wash of
French ultramarine, which
is darker, blends into it,
creating a graded wash.

5

With the 1 in (25 mm)
flat brush, apply two
stripes of a French
ultramarine wash over
the cobalt blue wash at
the top of the picture.

4

Load the 1 in (25 mm) flat brush with the cobalt blue
that is already mixed on your palette. Use this paint to
create the curving road.

46 | Color

6

When the trees and road are dry to the touch,
apply a wash of cadmium orange below the
blue wash of the sky with the 1 in (25 mm)
flat brush. The trees and road will look green
where you have painted over them.

7

Wait for the orange paint to
dry a little and lose its sheen.
Using a soft brush, gently dab
water onto the orange paint
to push it away. This will add
texture to the fields.

8

Mix French ultramarine and
cadmium orange to make a
soft green for the trees. Don’t
overload your brush so the
strokes break up slightly to
create the trees’ texture.

10
9

Paint trees on the horizon
with the green mix and soften
them. When the orange wash
is dry, add cadmium orange
mixed with a little cadmium
red to brighten the fields.

Paint the road with a
mix of burnt sienna and
French ultramarine. Add
cadmium red and cobalt
blue to make gray, and
strengthen some areas
by mixing in French
ultramarine on the paper.

1 Tuscan landscape | 47

11

Mix cadmium red and cobalt blue
for the tree trunks. Darken the
foliage with a burnt sienna and
French ultramarine mix. Paint the
shadows with a mix of cobalt blue,
cadmium red, and cadmium
orange, and then soften them.

12

Add a mix of cobalt blue and
cadmium red to the horizon, to
create depth. Paint grass in the
foreground of the picture, then
strengthen the color between
the trees with touches of
cadmium orange.

 Tuscan

landscape

The complementary washes of orange
and blue create a colorful final painting.
Simple mixes of these colors produce
the greens for the trees and a range of
harmonious tones for the finer details.

48 | Color

Equipment

2 Ballet shoes

• Rough paper
• Brushes: No. 5, No. 14, 1 in
(25 mm) flat

In this painting, the golden tones of the ballet shoes and barre are set against
a predominantly neutral background. Applying the background wet-in-wet as
different shades of cool lilac creates a complementary, harmonious combination
of colors. The lilac is also reflected in the satin surface of the ballet shoes, which
helps to emphasize their soft sheen. Although there are some warm colors used in
the background, they recede in comparison with the rich gold of the ballet shoes,
and this helps to bring the shoes right to the front of the painting.

1

Draw a pencil sketch, then apply a wash of
cerulean blue for the background with the
1 in (25 mm) flat brush, using long, vertical
strokes. Leave the window areas white and
add strokes of raw sienna on their frames.

BUILDING THE IMAGE

2

• Cerulean blue, raw sienna,
Windsor violet, burnt sienna,
cadmium orange, cadmium
red, cadmium yellow

TECHNIQUES
• Wet-in-wet

Paint vertical strokes of diluted Windsor
violet on the right-hand side of the picture
with the 1 in (25 mm) flat brush. The
Windsor violet will run into the wet raw
sienna, keeping the edges soft.

3

Use raw sienna to paint the
wooden barre and the ballet shoes,
letting the color run into the purple
background. Strengthen the cerulean
blue, keeping the white areas of
paper clear.

4

Mix cerulean blue and raw sienna
for the barre supports. Add a burnt
sienna and Windsor violet mix to the
background. Strengthen the barre
with raw sienna and a touch of
cadmium orange.

5

Use a cerulean blue and Windsor
violet mix to paint horizontal lines on
the left. Darken the back wall with a
burnt sienna and cerulean blue mix.
Paint inside the shoes with a mix of
burnt sienna and Windsor violet.

6

Strengthen the color
of the shoes with raw
sienna mixed with a little
cadmium orange. Paint
vertical lines of cerulean
blue to create their satin
sheen. Add Windsor
violet wet-in-wet, then
lines of burnt sienna.

Strengthening
colors
As paint dries, colors tend to become
paler. If the dried result is too pale, you
can strengthen the color by adding
further layers of paint.

50 | Color

7

Paint the shoe ribbons with a
mix of cerulean blue and raw
sienna and add definition with
a mix of Windsor violet and
raw sienna. Strengthen the
background around the shoes
with the mix of Windsor violet
and raw sienna. This helps to
bring the shoes forward.

8
9

10

Add a wash of Windsor
violet to the right-hand
side of the picture, to
create a contrast with the
yellow shoes. Paint the
shoe ties with the mix of
Windsor violet and burnt
sienna. Add raw sienna
and cadmium yellow to
the fronts of the shoes to
make them more vibrant.

Add raw sienna to the
background on the right side.
Warm up the shoes with a
mix of cadmium red and raw
sienna. Strengthen the dark
parts of the shoes with the
mix of Windsor violet and
burnt sienna. Paint the block
toes with raw sienna.

Paint the front part of the
barre with a mix of burnt
sienna and raw sienna, so
that it appears to be coming
forward. Paint the receding
part of the barre with the
cooler mix of Windsor violet
and burnt sienna.

Ballet shoes 
A dynamic picture has been created
from the relationship between the
bold main image and the wash of
colors behind it. The build-up of
golden tones and the strength of the
complementary lilac has produced
a luminous and striking image.

52 | Color

Equipment

3 Cherries

• Cold-pressed paper

Close studies can make highly rewarding paintings. By cropping in tightly on
a small bunch of cherries in this straightforward study, attention is focused on
the fruit and there is no need for unnecessary detail. In order to emphasize the
vibrant red of the cherries, its complementary color—green—is used for the rest
of the painting. The soft, loose washes of different greens create a calm, recessive
background, which throws the vivid scarlet of the cherries into relief so that they
appear to come forward and completely dominate the painting.

• Brushes: No. 5, No. 9,
1⁄
2 in (12.5 mm) and 1 in
(25 mm) flat
• Alizarin crimson,
cadmium red, cadmium
yellow, burnt umber,
French ultramarine,
viridian, Windsor violet,
emerald green,
cerulean blue

TECHNIQUES
• Wet-in-wet
• Softening edges

1

Use touches of alizarin crimson to paint the lighter areas of
the cherries, taking care not to overload your brush. Paint the
rest of the cherries cadmium red and soften the edges with
water to remove some paint.

BUILDING THE IMAGE

2

Remove a little of the wet cadmium red by dabbing it with a
clean tissue. This takes you back to the alizarin crimson that
was covered by cadmium red in step 1. The contrast between
the two colors makes the cadmium red look brighter.

3

6

Create shadows with Windsor violet,
then add another layer of cadmium
red to strengthen the color of the
cherries. Use a wet brush to soften
some areas to create highlights.
Strengthen the alizarin crimson.

4

Mix cadmium red and burnt umber
to make a dark red and paint this
onto the cherries while the cadmium
red is still wet. This darker mix
creates the shadows of the cherries
that are furthest away.

Paint washes of emerald green, cadmium yellow, and cadmium red
wet-in-wet in the background. Keep the colors loose and wet so that
they appear to recede. Use the side of the 1⁄2 in (12.5 mm) flat brush
to paint fine green lines for the stems of the cherries.

7

5

Use pure Windsor violet to outline
part of the cherries and separate
them from each other. Strengthen
the red again, to push back the
darker colors, and soften the edges
to show where the light falls on them.

When the cherries are dry, paint the leaf with
emerald green and cerulean blue. Use a mix of
French ultramarine and burnt umber to indicate
where the stalks meet the cherries.

54 | Color

8

10

Fill in the background with
broad washes of greens. Paint
the leaf with a mix of cerulean
blue and cadmium yellow, then
add strokes of cerulean blue and
viridian to create the leaf veins.

Paint a wash of emerald green
around the cherries and soften it
with cerulean blue. Then strengthen
the areas next to the cherries with
viridian and burnt umber, to provide
a strong contrast with the red.

11

Paint the shadows on the cherries
with a mix of cadmium red and
alizarin crimson. Strengthen the
color of the branch with burnt
umber and add Windsor violet
in the darkest places.

9

Paint the branch above the cherries
with burnt umber, using the side
of the No. 5 brush. The paint will
granulate naturally, helping to create
the mottled appearance of the bark
on the branch.

Cherries 
The dramatic effect of the finished painting
is achieved by the striking contrast between
the scarlet cherries and the complementary
washes of green around them.

Tone
“Plan your colors:
limit your palette.”

58 | TONE

Light and dark
Tone—the relative lightness or darkness of colors—
is the most important building block for all painting.
It creates pattern and shape, movement and design.
Color, depth, and focus are all diminished without
good, clear use of tone. A painting in which all the

colors are of a similar tone looks dull because there
are no high notes or low notes—nothing stands out.
To create subtle paintings full of energy and interest,
it is best to limit the colors you choose and to use
neutrals to create a varied range and depth of tone.

limit your palette
Working with a limited range of colors that
are close together on the color wheel holds a
painting together and gives it unity. The colors
can be based around any one of the primary
colors and will each contain a certain amount
of that color. Including one complementary
color in your selection will enable you to create
a range of harmonious neutrals and semineutrals
that also unify the painting. Using a very small
amount of the pure complementary color
in your painting will give emphasis to the
composition and make the colors sparkle.

Limited palette of yellow-green, green, bluegreen, and complementary red.

In the color wheel, all the
colors are equal in tone, so
no one color stands out.

Limited palette of blue-green, blue, blue-purple,
and complementary orange.

Limited palette of blue-purple, purple, and redpurple, and complementary yellow.

selecting tones
Dark tone

Medium tone

Light tone

Using a simple range of close tones in your
painting will help to hold all the different
elements of your composition together. Most
paintings only need a range of three close tones,
accented by a few very dark tones and the white
of the paper to create drama and focus. Make
sure that you have identified all the tones in a
scene before you decide where to simplify them.
To help you see the tone of an object, compare
it with the colors surrounding it. You may also
find it useful to hold a piece of white paper next
to the tone to see how light or dark it is when
compared with white.

Light and dark | 59

painting with A limited palette
Before beginning a painting, try making a
preliminary sketch of your subject. Use this sketch
to help you work out which range of colors and
tones to use to create a strong composition.
The simple watercolor sketch on the right
was made in preparation for the painting below
and many of the tones used were corrected, to
create a more dynamic painting. In the finished
painting, the palette is limited, with green as the
dominant color. Using a range of greens has
made the foliage interesting even though it is not
very detailed. The tonal range of the neutral
colors gives the painting structure, and the small
amount of complementary red makes the painting
more vibrant.

Finished painting

Preliminary sketch
Range of
greens needs
to widen to
balance the
barn roof.

Tonal value too
light, it blocks
the view of the
barn’s side.
The mid-ground
area is too
colorful and
distracting.

60 | TONE

Gallery

Subtle paintings can be created by limiting the number of colors used and
incorporating a variety of tones to create pattern and highlight interest.

 Canadian geese
The overall tone of this painting
groups the birds together. The detail
of the geese and their flapping wings
has then been created through tonal
contrast. A limted use of bright
colors adds areas of interest.
Glynis Barnes-Mellish

 Sprouted brussels
This painting makes use of a limited
blue-green palette and harmonious
soft, yellow neutrals. The subtlety
of the mid-tone range draws the eye
to the delicate details and areas of
focus. Antonia Enthoven

 Venice, Punta della Salute
This harmonious painting makes very effective use of a limited palette
of colors that are all close to one another on the color wheel. A subtle
use of tone gives the painting structure, and the tonal contrast of the
boats on the left leads the eye into the distance. J.M.W. Turner

Gallery | 61

 Between the showers
The sky is the main area of
interest in this picture and is
painted a muted blue to suggest
rain. If bright colors were used
elsewhere, they would vie for
attention, so the tones used for
the land have been deliberately
held back. Peter Williams

Startled 
Color and tonal range have
been limited in this painting.
The use of pure color and
contrasting dark tones on the
hat and coat of the young
woman helps to focus attention
on her. Winslow Homer

 Wall, Siena
A limited palette has been used
here to control the area of interest.
The contrast of the small amount
of red with the unifying blues
makes the window the clear
focus. Nick Hebditch

62 | TONE

Equipment

4 Geese in the park

• Cold-pressed paper
• Brushes: No. 5, No. 9,
1 in (25 mm) flat

The setting for this painting is a hot summer’s day with brilliant back lighting. To
help create this effect, the whites and palest tones are preserved by slowly building
up layers of color around them. A limited palette is used, with yellow as the
dominant color. While this is mixed with other colors in the yellow-green
background, the yellow and orange of the chicks are carefully layered, to keep
them clean and bright. The muted blues and violets used to define the geese
help to emphasize the bright, warm colors used in the rest of the painting.

• Cadmium yellow,
cerulean blue, Windsor
violet, cadmium orange,
burnt sienna, cadmium
red, emerald green,
French ultramarine, burnt
umber, alizarin crimson

TECHNIQUES
• Layering
• Wet-in-wet

trying out colors

“Layering keeps colors
pure and vibrant.”

Cerulean blue layered over
cadmium yellow creates
green.

A color test sheet is a good way to plan which colors to use.
Trying out strokes and blocks of different colors will give you
a good idea of what they will look like when they are mixed
together wet-in-wet on the paper rather than on your palette.

BUILDING THE IMAGE

1

Paint the chicks and the geese’s bodies and heads cadmium
yellow, using the No. 9 brush. Then paint the geese’s heads
and necks cerulean blue and their chests Windsor violet.

4 Geese in the park | 63

When cerulean blue
mixes with the wet
paint, it granulates.

2

4

Add cerulean blue to the lower parts of the geese to create
cool shadows. When the paint on the chicks has dried, add
dashes of cadmium orange to their heads and cerulean blue
to their bodies.

Paint the background
green with a wash mixed
from cadmium yellow,
cerulean blue, and
emerald green, using the
1 in (25 mm) flat brush.
Add French ultramarine
to the mix and paint the
grass in the foreground.

The cool green
mix under the bird
helps it recede.

3

Build up more layers of color on the geese, using cerulean
blue, Windsor violet, burnt sienna, cadmium red, and
cadmium yellow. Finish by using a mix of burnt sienna
and Windsor violet to paint the wing feathers.

64 | TONE

5

Mix cadmium yellow,
cerulean blue, and
French ultramarine with
the first green mix from
step 4 and paint a soft
line across the green
background. Add more
cerulean blue to the
green mix and paint a
wash in the foreground,
to soften it. Paint a wash
of cadmium yellow over
the background.

Layering
It is easier to control the
edges of colors when
painting wet on dry. Make
sure the areas you paint
over are dry, to keep the
colors clean and bright.

6

Mix French ultramarine,
burnt umber, and alizarin
crimson together, then
build up layers from gray
to black on the geese’s
heads and necks, using
the No. 5 brush.

4 Geese in the park | 65

8

Soften the dark green
with cadmium yellow. Use
cerulean blue to tone down
the white edges of the geese,
add the geese’s legs, and paint
the shadows on the grass.

 Geese

7

Add details to the chicks with cerulean blue and
burnt umber. Paint lines of dark green and yellow
below the birds to help anchor them firmly in
place against the loose background.

in the park

The clean, sharp shapes and bright
colors of the geese and chicks have
been created by building up layers of
paint. The neutral tones convey the
softness of the geese’s feathers and
the use of contrasting bright color
brings the chicks into focus.

66 | TONE

Equipment

5 Peony in a jar

• Cold-pressed paper
• Brushes: No. 5, No. 9,
1 in (25 mm) flat

A single flower can be an absorbing and rewarding subject to paint, and gives you
the chance to study one thing in detail. Much of the peony in this painting is in
shade, which gives you a certain amount of free rein when painting the colors.
Lifting out lines of color to create details in the areas of shadow creates soft, light
marks rather than stark, white highlights. This subtle treatment of the leaf and
stamens provides a strong visual contrast to the brightly lit, sharp edges of the
petals, which sparkle with vibrant color.

• Raw sienna, alizarin
crimson, permanent
mauve, cadmium
red, emerald green,
cerulean blue, French
ultramarine, burnt
sienna, burnt umber

Techniques
• Lifting out
• Painting glass

The yellow paint runs
into the pink paint when
you add water to it.

1

Paint the center of the flower in raw sienna with the No. 9
brush. Mix pink from alizarin crimson and permanent mauve,
then paint the petals pink while the raw sienna is still wet, so
that the pink and yellow paint run together.

Building the image

2

Rinse your paintbrush, then use it to brush clean water
along the edges of some of the petals, to soften the pink
and create highlights. Adding water to the yellow paint
makes it run into the pink paint.

3

5

Paint the stem and leaves with raw sienna. Add permanent
mauve and alizarin crimson to the petals while they are still
wet. Soften some areas with a clean brush to vary the tones.

Mix gray from cerulean blue, pink,
and raw sienna and paint the top of
the glass. Use cerulean blue to paint
the lines of shadow next to the glass.

6

4

Add cadmium red to the petals and the tips of the stamens.
Mix raw sienna and permanent mauve to create a neutral
tone for the stamens and paint the leaves emerald green.

Add raw sienna to the shadows and
green to the flower stem. Paint
strokes of cerulean blue to create the
effect of bubbles inside the glass.

7

Mix cerulean blue and permanent
mauve together to make a neutral
color. Use this to paint the shadow
around the bottom of the glass.

68 | TONE

Lifting out removes
the top layer of paint
and reveals the layer
of color beneath it.

8

Paint the surface of the water in the glass with raw sienna.
Draw a clean, wet, flat brush across the flower stem to lift
out some of the green paint and show how the water
distorts the stem.

10

Mix cerulean blue and burnt
sienna together. Paint a light wash
behind the flower with the 1 in
(25 mm) flat brush and soften the
edges with a little water.

9

Strengthen the color of the petals with pure alizarin
crimson and permanent mauve. Mix emerald green and
French ultramarine together to make a darker green and
use this to paint the tops of the leaves.

11

Mix French ultramarine and
burnt umber and paint it over the
background wash while still wet.
Use a No. 5 brush to draw the
color down between the stamens.

lifting out
Be careful not to use too
much pressure when lifting
out. Use a clean, damp
brush and blot the paper
between lifting strokes.

Peony in a jar 

12

While the paint on the leaves is damp, lift
out lines of paint with a 1 in (25 mm) brush,
to create the veins of the leaves. Lift lines
of paint from the leaf stem in the same way.
Add dark green to the tip of the lower leaf.

Removing paint by lifting out
color has been used as an effective
technique here to add detail both to
the flower stem and the leaves. The
veins of the leaves are soft, in direct
contrast to the sharp edges of the
flower’s petals and stamens.

70 | TONE

Equipment

6 Boats on the canal

• Cold-pressed paper

In this painting of two small boats on a Venetian canal, orange is both the
dominant and the underlying color. Because the first layer of orange paint shows
through subsequent layers of color in the reflections and shadows, it unifies the
different elements of the picture. Lifting out color with a clean damp brush
reinstates light areas accidentally lost in the first few washes. This is particularly
useful here, as the lighter tones created by lifting out are gently tinted rather than
white, so do not detract from the layers of color used to depict the boats.

• Brushes: No. 5, No. 9,
1
⁄ 2 in (12.5 mm) and 1 in
(25 mm) flat
• Raw sienna, cadmium
yellow, light red, cadmium
red, cerulean blue, burnt
sienna, French ultramarine,
Windsor violet, burnt
umber, alizarin crimson

TECHNIQUES
• Creating shadows
• Lifting out
• Layering

The broken wash
will help to reflect
the color of the
brickwork.

1

Paint the brickwork and water with a raw sienna wash. Make
vertical strokes with the 1 in (25 mm) flat brush, letting the
wash break in places. Brighten the brickwork with cadmium
yellow, adding vertical strokes of light red and soften with water.

BUILDING THE IMAGE

2

Mix cadmium red and cerulean blue to make gray for the
stairs. Mix cerulean blue and yellow for the water, and paint
the water ripples with the edge of the 1 in (25 mm) flat
brush. Use cerulean blue to define the edges of the building.

6 Boats on the canal | 71

3

Paint the railings with cerulean blue and a
mix of light red and cerulean blue. Add burnt
sienna to the bricks. Use cerulean blue and
burnt sienna for the steps and the dark water.
Mix French ultramarine and light red for the
alley and the low bricks next to the water.
Tone down the white areas with raw sienna.

“Adding layers of
complementary paint
makes the colors
look more muted.”

Cadmium red and
cadmium yellow
make a strong orange.

4

Paint the back boat with a cadmium red and
cadmium yellow mix and soften it with water.
Use a strong cerulean blue for the front boat.
The blue will create a green shadow where it
runs over the yellow.

72 | TONE

5

6

Paint the canal with
vertical strokes of watery
cerulean blue, using the
1 in (25 mm) flat brush.
Use short lines rather
than long strokes. Mix
Windsor violet and burnt
umber for the darkest
parts of the water and to
paint the area beneath
the bridge. You do not
need a green for the
darker areas of the water.

Mix cadmium yellow and cerulean blue
to add green to the water. Strengthen the
bricks with light red and burnt umber.
Add lines of French ultramarine and
cadmium yellow to the canal, then soften
them with water. Use the whole brush to
do this, rather than just the tip.

7

Darken the lower part
of the building with the
mix of Windsor violet
and burnt umber. Using
a clean, wet, stubby
brush, lift out narrow,
vertical lines of color
from the walls to create
the effect of windows.

6 Boats on the canal | 73

8

Paint shadows on the orange boat
with French ultramarine and lift out
some orange at the front of the boat
to create a highlight. Paint details on
the blue boat with a mix of cerulean
blue and cadmium yellow. Use burnt
umber for the shadows.

shadow colors
Painting over a color with its
complementary color, even if this color
is lighter, will create a neutral tone that
you can use to paint shadows.

Cadmium
orange

French
ultramarine

Neutralized mix

9

With the side of the 1⁄2 in (12.5 mm) brush, add detail to the
bricks with burnt umber and paint Windsor violet over the
green of the water. Paint the dark shadow beneath the blue
boat with a mix of Windsor violet and burnt umber.

10

Paint a line of undiluted cerulean blue around the bow
of the blue boat to strengthen the color. Then lift out
some of the blue with a clean, wet brush to create the
effect of shadows and highlights.

74 | TONE

11

Mix burnt umber, French
ultramarine, and alizarin
crimson to make a deep
brown. Use a fine brush
to paint the details of the
bridge in this color. Then
use the clean, wet 1 in
(25 mm) flat brush to lift
out some of the color below
the railings.

12

Add a mix of cadmium
yellow and cadmium red
to the orange boat to
strengthen the color. Paint
details in dark brown and
then add a line of cerulean
blue (a complementary
color) to create a shadow
at the back of the boat.

Boats on the canal 
The eye is drawn into the finished
painting by the vertical lines of the
buildings and the reflections in the
canal. The limited palette of neutral
tones used in the water emphasizes
the vibrant color of the boats, making
the composition stronger.

Perspective
“Red is in front,
blue is behind, and
green is in between.”

78 | PERSPECTIVE

Creating depth with color
The colors of objects appear to change depending
on how near or far they are from you, because of
atmospheric conditions. In the foreground, colors
are at their warmest and strongest and have the
widest range of tones. With distance, colors lose their

intensity, becoming bluer and lighter with less tonal
variation. To create a sense of perspective in your
paintings, forget what color you think an object is
and paint it the color you actually see. This will be
determined by how near or far away the object is.

Red comes forward
The colored grid on the right shows how the
warmth, or lack of warmth, of a color affects
where it sits in a painting. Warm colors such as
reds and oranges appear to come forward, cool
blue colors seem to recede, and greens sit in
the middle distance.
By positioning warm and cool colors
carefully, you can create a sense of depth in the
scenes you paint. A simple landscape of green
fields with red poppies in the foreground and
a distant blue sky immediately has a sense of
perspective. On a smaller scale, you can make
individual objects look more solid if you paint
the part of the object closest to you with warm
colors and use cooler colors on the sides of the
object, as these are further away from you.

Green is in
the middle
distance.

Blue recedes.

Red comes
forward.

Warm and cool palettes
Paints are described as warm or cool depending
on whether they have a reddish or bluish tone.
This varies according to the pigment used to make
them. A warm color such as red, for example,

can appear in the cool palette if the pigment
used to make it has a bluish tone, as with alizarin
crimson. Selecting colors from both palettes in
your paintings will help you create perspective.

Warm color palette

Cool color palette

1

2

3

10

11

12

1

2

3

10

11

12

4

5

6

13

14

15

4

5

6

13

14

15

7

8

9

16

17

18

7

8

9

16

17

18

1. cadmium yellow 2. burnt sienna 3. cadmium red 4. emerald green
5. cadmium orange 6. raw sienna 7. burnt umber 8. sap green 9. French
ultramarine10–18. neutral mixes.

1. cobalt blue 2. raw umber 3. alizarin crimson 4. lemon yellow 5. Windsor
violet 6. yellow ochre 7. permanent mauve 8. viridian 9. cerulean blue 10–18.
neutral mixes.

Creating depth with color | 79

creating depth
All paintings, regardless of subject matter, rely
on the use of warm and cool colors to create a
sense of depth. By understanding how distance
and atmosphere change colors and tones, you
can control the sense of depth in your paintings.

The initial sketch has the warm and cool colors
accurately placed, but it lacks a sense of depth because
the colors are all of the same intensity.

The final painting has the colors carefully positioned and decreasing
in intensity toward the horizon, so has a sense of depth.

The use of warm and
cool colors on the face helps
to make it look
three-dimensional.

The warm color of the vest
comes forward to give bulk
to the figure.

Warm tones in the jacket
complement the skin tones.

In this portrait colors have
been chosen from both the
warm and cool palette. The
vest, for example, is a warm
yellow, but the background
yellows are cool. It is this
careful use of color that
creates the sense of depth.

80 | PERSPECTIVE

Gallery

A sense of perspective can be created in paintings by using warm, strong
colors in the foreground and cool, pale colors for more distant objects.

 West Dean poppies
This landscape has a real sense of depth due to its
careful use of warm and cool colors. The trees
become blue toward the horizon, while the
foreground is painted with warm reds and yellows.
Sara Ward

Lobster pots at Beesands beach,
Devon 
The focus in this painting is firmly on the strong
red and hot orange boxes in the foreground. Greens
in the foliage and neutral baskets hold the middle
distance, and the blue at the horizon gives depth.
Robert O’Rorke

Gallery | 81

 Red poppies
This simple study shows how even
in close-up subjects, warm and cool
colors can be used to create depth.
Here, the reds of the petals and
warmer greens come forward, while
the background is pushed back
with a blue wash. Glynis BarnesMellish

 Young girl
This painting is quite abstract but
its use of warm and cool colors
gives it form. The hot color in the
center of the face brings it forward,
while the sides of the face and hair
are cooler so they appear to recede.
Glynis Barnes-Mellish

 Ivy
The foliage and glazed pot in this painting are
both green but a sense of depth has still been
created because a range of greens from warm
to cool has been used. Glynis Barnes-Mellish

82 | PERSPECTIVE

Equipment

7 Field gate

• Rough paper

A characterful old farm gate, made from rough, weathered wood, is the focal
point of this painting. Using soft, loose washes of warm and cool colors for the
surroundings sets the gate in its environment without creating any distracting
detail. The gate itself is then painted using the dry brushwork technique, which
is perfect for building up texture and conveying the rugged nature of the wood.
Using rough paper breaks up the brushmarks and adds to the textural quality of
the gate, as well as letting glimpses of the underpainting show through.

• Brushes: No. 9, No. 14,
1⁄
2 in (12.5 mm) and 1 in
(25 mm) flat
• Cadmium yellow,
emerald green,
cerulean blue, French
ultramarine, burnt
sienna, cadmium red

TECHNIQUES
• Dry brushwork
• Splattering
• Layering

Because the paper for
the gate is dry, it resists
the yellow paint.

1

Use a wide flat brush to wet the paper everywhere except
for the gate itself, as you want it to remain white. While the
paper is still damp, paint all the areas of grass and leaves
cadmium yellow, using the No. 14 brush.

BUILDING THE IMAGE

“Dry brushwork creates
a textural effect.”

2

Mix a lime green from emerald green and cadmium yellow
and use this to paint more foliage. Paint a wash of pure
cerulean blue across the sky and the gate posts, using the
1
⁄2 in (12.5 mm) flat brush.

7 Field gate | 83

3

Mix French ultramarine and burnt sienna to create a
warmer blue wash for the path and bring it into the
foreground. Paint this color onto slightly damp paper.

4

Add a line of burnt sienna to the edge of the road, to give
it a little warmth. Using the same color, drybrush the dry
paper of the gate post.

5

Add lines of a mix of
cadmium red and burnt
sienna to the foliage with
the No. 9 brush. Soften
the lines with water,
then add more details
with a mix of cadmium
yellow and emerald
green, using the 1 in
(25 mm) flat brush.

84 | PERSPECTIVE

6

8

Paint water onto the area behind the gate with a clean
brush, then add a mix of emerald green and French
ultramarine with the No. 14 brush. Use the lime green
mix below the post and soften it with water.

Use the side of the 1⁄2 in (12.5 mm) flat brush to paint thin
strokes of grass with a mix of French ultramarine, emerald
green, and burnt sienna. Create flowers by adding cadmium
red with the side of the No. 9 brush, then flicking with water.

7

Drybrush more detail onto the leaves of the tree on the
right with a mix of emerald green, cadmium yellow, and
French ultramarine. Strengthen the color of the background
next to this tree with cadmium yellow.

9

Start adding detail to the gate with dry brushwork. Use a
light touch to make broken lines that suggest the texture of
the wood. Use a variety of brown tones mixed from French
ultramarine and burnt sienna.

7 Field gate | 85

10

Model the shape of the gate
post with cerulean blue. Add
cadmium red to the front post to
add warmth and make it appear
to come forward. Add fine, dark
details to the gate with a mix of
burnt sienna and cerulean blue,
using the No. 9 brush.

 Field

gate

Dry brushwork creates the rough texture
of the gate, while the soft, loose washes of
cool and warm color around it convey the
hazy warmth of the afternoon sun and
create a sense of depth.

86 | PERSPECTIVE

Equipment

8 Wild hare

• Rough paper
• Brushes: No. 5, No. 9,
No.14, 1⁄ 2 in (12.5 mm) flat

The hare in this painting almost fills the picture so that little design space is given
to the field behind it, but creating perspective is just as important in close-up
studies like this as it is in large landscapes. Using warm and cool colors to paint
the hare creates a sense of depth and establishes the personality of the subject,
from its quivering nose to its silky ears. Dry brushwork, softened with water, is
very useful for painting animals, as it conveys the texture of their coats. Here, it
captures the essence of the hare’s velvety fur.

• Cerulean blue, alizarin
crimson, raw sienna,
burnt umber, French
ultramarine, Windsor
violet, burnt sienna, sap
green, cadmium orange,
cadmium yellow

TECHNIQUES
• Dry brushwork
• Underpainting

1

Paint the outsides of the hare’s ears cerulean blue with the
No. 14 brush, then use a mix of alizarin crimson and raw
sienna to paint the insides of the ears. With a clean brush,
run water down at the bottom of the ears to keep them soft.

BUILDING THE IMAGE

2

Paint the front of the hare’s face with raw
sienna and use the cooler alizarin crimson for
the sides. Apply the paint lightly so that the
edges of the colors are jagged.

8 Wild hare | 87

The paper’s
rough surface
creates texture.

3

5

Add raw sienna while the cerulean blue paint on the
ears is still wet, then paint the nose with a mix of alizarin
crimson and raw sienna, using the No. 5 brush. Paint a
little pure alizarin crimson below the nose.

Mix burnt umber, French
ultramarine, and Windsor violet
together to paint shadows on the
ears. Use cerulean blue to add the
detail of the eye and the shadows
under the hare’s face.

6

4

Add cerulean blue to the raw sienna at the side of the face to
create soft areas of green. Use water to push the paint away
to look like fur. Drybrush a mix of raw sienna and alizarin
crimson over the dry paper for the hare’s body.

Darken the face with a mix of burnt
sienna and cerulean blue. Use a mix
of burnt umber and alizarin crimson
for the face and ears and Windsor
violet for the tip of the nose. Drop in
water to help create the fur texture.

7

Add a cool green made from
cerulean blue and raw sienna to the
background. While this is wet, add
dashes of cerulean blue so that it
granulates. Brighten the wash with
a touch of raw sienna.

88 | PERSPECTIVE

creating a sense of depth

Cerulean blue
on the ears helps
them to recede.

Raw sienna on
the front of the
face and nose
brings them
forward.

8

Alizarin crimson
on the sides of
the face and
under the nose
makes these
areas recede.

Warm up the green at the front of the picture with a mix
of French ultramarine and cadmium yellow. Drybrush the
color on using the No. 14 brush.

The head is given aerial perspective by keeping warm colors,
which come forward, in the center of the face, and cool colors,
which recede, at the sides. More paint is drybrushed on top, but
the initial colors still show through to retain the sense of form.

9

While the foreground is still wet, add touches of detail with
alizarin crimson, raw sienna, and a mix of sap green and raw
sienna. Leave parts of the paper white, to create the effect
of sparkling highlights in the grass.

10

Mix Windsor violet and burnt umber to paint around
the hare’s eye. Use the same color to add the details of
the nose, using water to soften them. Paint the shadows
on the nose with cerulean blue.

11

Mix a warm, dark brown from alizarin crimson, burnt
umber, and Windsor violet and paint the fur with the
No. 9 brush. Add cerulean blue to the mix and use this
on the hare’s sides and the dent on the side of its face.

13

Darken the ears with a mix of burnt umber, Windsor
violet, and a little alizarin crimson. Add French
ultramarine and cerulean blue to this mix and use it to
tone down the ears and add the shadow below the head.

12

Add the mix of burnt umber, alizarin crimson, and
Windsor violet to the front of the face, and cadmium
orange to the right-hand side. Add dashes of a mix of
sap green and raw sienna to create the look of fur.

14

Make the right ear darker with a mix of cerulean blue and
Windsor violet. Use cerulean blue to mark the base of the
whiskers. While the background wash is still wet, paint
the whiskers with the 1⁄2 in (12.5 mm) flat brush.

90 | PERSPECTIVE

15

Use the side and point of the No. 14 brush to paint the
dark grass sap green. Use a variety of strokes, making
sure the brush is not overloaded with paint. Add alizarin
crimson and raw sienna to the grass in the foreground.

16

Drop a mix of alizarin crimson and raw sienna onto the
grass while the paint is still wet, then use the clean, wet
1
⁄2 in (12.5 mm) flat brush to lift out paint and create the
long blades of grass in front of the hare.

“Loose brush
marks suggest
movement
and life.”

18
17

Add strokes of burnt umber to
the fur. Use a mix of burnt sienna
and Windsor violet to paint the
contours of the face and whiskers.
Add cerulean blue to the side of
the body and use a very dark
brown mix to paint the eye.

Finish with some fine details
on the face. Use a mix of burnt
sienna and raw sienna on the
right-hand side to bring it forward
and add Windsor violet to the
edge of the face.

Wild hare 
Using bright underpainting to create the
hare’s form and adding fine detail with dry
brushwork have created a simple, yet
effective study. Too much detail would
have made the picture static.

92 | PERSPECTIVE

Equipment

9 Street scene

• Cold-pressed paper

Deserted street scenes can look a little uninteresting, but by adding just a few
people, a painting springs to life. Not only do figures add activity, they also create
movement in a composition, leading the viewer’s eye through the painting. In this
scene, the buildings are very tall and, due to the amount of shadow they cast,
most of the interest is in the top half of the composition. Adding the figures at
street level in the lower half of the painting emphasizes the scale of the buildings
and helps to anchor them while introducing color and interest.

• Brushes: No. 5, No. 9,
1⁄
2 in (12.5 mm) and 1 in
(25 mm) flat
• French ultramarine,
cerulean blue, cadmium
yellow, emerald green,
raw sienna, Windsor
violet, cadmium orange,
raw umber, viridian,
alizarin crimson, cadmium
red, burnt sienna, sap
green, burnt umber

TECHNIQUES
• Dry brushwork
• Adding figures

1

Using the 1⁄2 in (12.5 mm) flat brush, paint the sky with a graded
wash, from French ultramarine at the top to cerulean blue at
the bottom. Paint the trees cadmium yellow and let it dry, then
drybrush emerald green and French ultramarine for the leaves.

BUILDING THE IMAGE

2

Drybrush raw sienna for the buildings. Use a light wash of
Windsor violet for the top of the building on the right. Use
cadmium orange to paint the underside of the roof, then
add fine lines of cerulean blue to create shadows.

9 Street scene | 93

3

Add a mix of French ultramarine and cadmium
yellow to the sky at the end of the street, to help
the view recede into the distance. Sketch in the
shapes of the figures in cerulean blue.

4

5

Mix viridian and cerulean blue to make turquoise. Paint
some of the shutters in this color and use straight cerulean
blue for others. Add French ultramarine to the detail at the
far end of the street.

Using the 1⁄2 in (12.5 mm) flat brush, paint the shadows on the
building and rooftop in Windsor violet. Add cadmium yellow
for local color and use a mix of cerulean blue and raw umber
to paint the shadow under the roof.

6

Add color to the shadows by painting the
undersides of the balconies in alizarin crimson
with the No. 5 brush and then strengthen the
color with cadmium red.

94 | PERSPECTIVE

7

Paint the shadows
under the windows
with raw sienna. Use
viridian for the open
shutter. Paint the outline
of the street lamp in
burnt sienna and use
the same color to paint
the arches on the
building on the right.

“Use the simplest
brushstrokes to convey
human figures.”

8

Mix burnt sienna, French ultramarine, and Windsor violet
to make a deep purple for the shutters and the dark areas
of the building on the right-hand side of the picture. Apply
this mix with the 1 in (25 mm) flat brush.

9

Use a light wash of Windsor violet to paint the shadows
on the street. Paint the faces of the figures with dots of
cadmium red and strengthen the color of their bodies
with French ultramarine.

9 Street scene | 95

10

Paint a wash of cadmium
orange on the lower half
of the wall on the left. Use
burnt sienna to paint the
people in the distance,
then mix burnt sienna and
cerulean blue to add detail
to the wall on the left.

11

Use a mix of burnt sienna
and Windsor violet to paint
the shadowy area on the left
of the painting and soften
the edges. With a mix of
French ultramarine, sap
green, and burnt umber,
use dry brushwork to paint
the leaves on the tree.

12

Mix burnt umber and Windsor violet, then
paint the rooftops of the building on the right
with the 1⁄2 in (12.5 mm) flat brush. Switch to
the No. 5 brush and Windsor violet to add
more detail to the building.

96 | PERSPECTIVE

13

Mix burnt sienna and cerulean
blue to make a warm neutral for
the walls on the right. Add burnt
umber for the darker shadows.
Drybrush the mix of burnt sienna
and cerulean blue onto the road
to create shadows.

14

Paint a graded wash of French
ultramarine onto the road,
making it stronger in the
foreground. While it is still wet,
add burnt sienna and French
ultramarine at the base of the
building to create shadows.

Painting shadows
Bright light creates light shadows as
it spills into areas of shadow and fills
them with pools of color. Remember
this when painting sunny scenes so that
you don’t make the mistake of painting
shadows that are very dark and dull.

15

Add detail to the front figure
with burnt sienna and to the
second figure with Windsor
violet. The contrast between the
two colors will help to bring the
front figure forward and make the
second figure recede.

Street scene 
The painting has been kept loose to
capture the liveliness of the scene. Giving
the figures only the barest suggestion of
form blends them into the landscape where
they add more color, and making the
shadows light and colorful creates the
sunny atmosphere.

Focus
“Start with the lightest
color and go smaller
and darker.”

100 | FOCUS

Focal point
A good painting has a strong focal point that
immediately draws your eye to the main area of
interest. The focal point of any image is the point
where the lightest and darkest marks meet. You can
use these tones elsewhere in your painting, but they

should only be next to each other where you want
your viewer to focus. To emphasize the focal point
even more, it is a good idea to restrict the range of
tones you use for the details around it so that these
areas are less defined and do not vie for attention.

Light to dark
It is important to decide what your main point
of interest is before you begin painting so that
you can create a strong composition. Start by
identifing the lightest colors in your composition.
These colors lie underneath all the subsequent
layers of color, unifying your picture. Block
in these large areas of color first, then begin
building up the mid-tones to give your painting
structure. Next paint smaller, darker details, and
finally, add tiny amounts of pure, bright color
and the darkest tones of all to bring the main
area of interest into focus.

Building layers
This painting of a flower pot has been built up in
layers, starting with the lightest colors and then
adding progressively smaller and darker areas of
color so that detail and focus are established.

Farm buildings The buildings have been brought into focus in this picture as
dark foliage has been painted next to their light stonework. Flicking a small
amount of complementary red paint in the foreground creates further interest.

Light tones

Mid-tones

Dark tones

For this painting, a mix of raw sienna and
cadmium red was used first for the lightest tone.

The mid-tones were then added.These create
contrasts between objects and give them edges.

Mid dark details were painted, then dark accents
added next to the lightest tones to create focus.

Focal point | 101

Emphasizing THE FOCAL POINT
The focal point of this painting of a gymnast is
her legs and neck, and this is where the lightest
and darkest marks have been placed next to
each other. To emphasize this focal point, the

distracting detail of the gymnasium has been
replaced with a soft background wash. The
gymnast’s leotard merges into this wash, which
also helps to keep attention on the legs.

The lightest and darkest
tones meet to focus
attention on the feet.

The light areas on the face
are set against mid-tones to
limit attention.

The body blends into the
background to keep your
focus on the legs.

Gymnast In this painting,
the lightest and darkest
tones meet at the gymnast’s
neck and up through her
legs and feet. Grouping
many of the details together
tonally helps to outline this
focal point.

102 | FOCUS

Gallery

The focal point of any image is where the lightest and darkest tones meet.
A strong focal point immediately draws the eye to the main area of interest.

 Bridge at Borrowdale
The clear focal point in this muted painting is the
figure standing on the bridge. This figure is the only
place in the picture where the lightest and darkest
tones meet. John Constable

Pink roses 
The deep color of the front rose and the lights and
darks on the leaves on either side of it, make this
rose the focal point. The other blooms melt away
without such contrast. Glynis Barnes-Mellish

 Street market
This busy street scene contains a lot of detail, but
by limiting the combination of light and dark to the
two figures in yellow saris, they remain the focal
point. Glynis Barnes-Mellish

Gallery | 103

 A tramp
In this striking portrait, the head of the man is set back in shadow
while the foreground is quite light in tone. To focus attention on
the face, the white shirt has been painted next to a very dark edge
of the beard. John Singer Sargent

 Courtyard, Venice
In this painting, the focus created by adjacent light and dark
marks occurs in several different places, from the stone slab at
the doorway, to the plant pot, to the back wall. This arrangement
keeps the eye moving around the scene. Nick Hebditch

104 | FOCUS

Equipment

10 Chair by a window

• Cold-pressed paper

Bright sunlight spilling onto the chair and floor animates this simple country
interior. Resists are used to great advantage in this painting, as they keep parts of
the paper white. This means that you can paint the first large areas freely and
loosely, capturing the intensity of light coming through the window by using
warmer colors closest to the source of light. Once the resists are removed, the
contrast and tension between the darkest tones and the unpainted white paper
focuses attention on the relationship between the chair and the window frame.

• Brushes: No. 5, 1 in (25
mm) and 1⁄2 in (12.5 mm)
flat
• Raw sienna, burnt
sienna, Windsor violet,
cerulean blue, cadmium
yellow, French
ultramarine, cadmium
red, titanium white
acrylic paint
• Masking tape and
masking fluid

TECHNIQUES

resists

• Resist

Below, you can see three different types of resist—masking
tape, masking fluid, and wax candle—and the marks that they
make on paper. Masking tape and fluid are used to protect areas
that will be painted over once they have been removed. Masking
fluid is more flexible in that you can create a more irregular
shape with softer edges. Wax cannot be removed.

Paint over masking tape.

Masking tape removed.

Paint over masking fluid.

Masking fluid removed.

Applying wax.

building the image

Paint over wax.

1

Put masking tape over the large areas of the picture that you
want to keep white. Paint masking fluid onto the smaller areas.
As the fluid is cream, you can see where it is. Use a cheap
brush and clean it immediately. Let the fluid dry completely.

10 Chair by a window | 105

2

4

Paint the walls with a wash of raw sienna. You can do this
freely without having to worry about the areas that will
remain white. Paint the window frame raw sienna, too.

3

While the paint is still wet, add a wash of burnt sienna to
the curtain, the floor, and the wall beneath the window.
Paint a line of Windsor violet around the edge of the floor.

5
Use cerulean blue to paint the sky
through the window. Add a little
cadmium yellow to the lower part
of the blue while it is still wet, to
create a soft green for the trees
outside the window.

Soften the edges of the
curtains with a little
water to suggest light
falling on them. Use
burnt sienna to add the
details of the window
frame and skirting board,
then brush the paint
down to create the effect
of a sheen on the floor.

106 | FOCUS

6

9

Strengthen the curtain’s color with
burnt sienna and soften with a wet
brush. Add raw sienna at the curtain’s
edge, then lift out some of the color
near the bottom of the curtain with a
tissue, to show where the light falls.

7

Use the Windsor violet and burnt
sienna mix to paint the second
window frame, then remove the
masking tape around the window.
This will leave the outside walls,
which are in sunlight, white.

Use a mix of burnt sienna, French ultramarine, and Windsor
violet to paint the chair back. Drybrush this mix onto the
window frame to create a weathered texture. Paint the chair
seat and legs with an orange mix of burnt and raw sienna.

10

8

Use a piece of paper to help you
paint a fine, straight line of raw
sienna all the way along the edge of
the open window. Using the paper
helps to create a controlled line,
which has a soft edge.

Add cerulean blue to the orange mix for the shadow on
the wall to the left. Mix burnt sienna and Windsor violet
for the shadow on the floor and brush on raw sienna and
burnt sienna to add texture and contrast.

10 Chair by a window | 107

11

Paint the shadows on the wall with burnt sienna and
Windsor violet. Keep the wall around the window
orange so that it looks light. While the paint on the floor
is still wet, lift out fine lines of color to create interest.

12

Add further interest to the floor by flicking it with water to
create backrun effects (see p.30). Darken the chair with
French ultramarine and burnt sienna, then use Windsor
violet to paint shadows on it.

13

Peel off the masking tape
on the floor to reveal the
white paper where there
is a pool of light near the
chair. Then, carefully peel
away the masking fluid
with your fingernails to
leave patches of white
paper where the light
has been broken by the
shadows of the chair.

MASKING FLUID
Always make sure that both
the masking fluid and paint
are completely dry before you
remove the masking fluid so
that you do not tear the paper.

108 | FOCUS

14

Use the Windsor violet and burnt sienna mix to darken
the window frame and to paint the shadows of the chair
legs. Add cadmium red to the corner for warmth and
use Windsor violet for the shadow on the floor.

15

Darken the top of the picture with the burnt sienna
and Windsor violet mix. Once the paint around the
chair legs has dried, strengthen their color with the
burnt sienna and Windsor violet mix.

“Light can create interest in areas
that are otherwise plain and empty.”

16

Paint a light wash of cerulean
blue on the left wall to make a
shadow. Then dab touches of
neat titanium white acrylic paint
onto the chair with a No. 5
brush, to create highlights.

Chair by a window 
In this painting all the separate
components—the window, chair, walls,
and floor—are connected to each other
by deep shadows and pools of light, which
create a rhythm and lead your eye around
the painting.

110 | FOCUS

Equipment

11 Cliffs and beach

• Cold-pressed paper

This rugged and colorful seascape may look complex, but by identifying the
underlying colors that unify the whole scene, it is easy to start work. The first
washes create an interplay between the warm and cool colors, which establishes
perspective and creates a sense of movement, vital in painting the sea. As you build
up the subsequent layers of color in the seascape, you can strengthen features and
refine detail. Finally, using a razor blade to remove some of the paint from the sea
produces broken marks that capture the effect of sunlight sparkling on the water.

• Brushes: No. 5, No. 14,
1⁄
2 in (12.5 mm) and 1 in
(25 mm) flat
• Razor blade
• Burnt sienna, cerulean
blue, turquoise deep,
Windsor violet, cadmium
orange, cadmium yellow,
emerald green, French
ultramarine, alizarin
crimson, sap green,
burnt umber

TECHNIQUES
• Scraping back

The white of the paper
showing through the dry
brushwork suggests the
crests of the waves.

1

Wet the paper, then paint the cliffs burnt sienna, using the
1 in (25 mm) flat brush. Use cerulean blue for the distant
sky, blending it into the yellow to create a soft green for the
distant hills and the areas of shadow on the cliffs.

BUILDING THE IMAGE

2

Paint the sea with a wash of cerulean blue, then drybrush
turquoise deep (an Old Windsor color) over the top with
the 1 in (25 mm) flat brush, to strengthen the color. Carry
the turquoise over onto the beach.

11 Cliffs and beach | 111

3

4

While the cerulean blue
on the beach is still wet,
paint the shadows on the
rocks and the beach with
Windor violet, using the
No. 14 brush. Add
cadmium orange for
the color of the sand.

Mix cadmium yellow and emerald green and paint the
grass, adding cerulean blue for the more distant grass.
Add shadows to the rock in the foreground with French
ultramarine. Use cerulean blue to paint the distant rock.

5

Strengthen the color of the sea with turquoise deep, using
the No. 5 brush. Paint the mid-range greens on the cliff
tops using a lime green mix of emerald green and cadmium
yellow, with a little cadmium orange added to it.

112 | FOCUS

6

7

Darken the shadows on the rock and paint the pebbles with
a mix of burnt sienna and Windsor violet. Paint shadows on
the cliffs using the lime green mix with burnt sienna and
French ultramarine added to it.

Paint the base of the far
cliffs alizarin crimson, to
keep the shadows cool.
Use a mix of Windsor
violet and alizarin
crimson to paint the
distant shadows.

“Keep your painting
loose and free.”

11 Cliffs and beach | 113

8

Brush the foreground
with a clean, wet brush,
then paint a mix of sap
green and burnt sienna
onto the wet paper.
While the paint is still
wet, add strokes of
emerald green and burnt
sienna for the grass in
the foreground.

9

10

Continue adding
detail, using French
ultramarine for the
shadows on the grass
and burnt sienna on
the rocks. Mix sap
green and cerulean
blue to paint the
shadows that help
to define the cliffs.

Drop clean water onto
the foreground to create
backrun effects that add
interest to the grass.
While the paint is still
wet, add dashes of
alizarin crimson for
some local color.

114 | FOCUS

11

Paint the smaller rocks
on the beach Windsor
violet and add French
ultramarine for the
shadows. Splatter the
foreground with the
lime green mix and
apply strokes of a mix
of burnt umber and sap
green for added color.

12

Add touches of cadmium orange to the foreground
to bring it forward and add cerulean blue to the
background to make it recede. Strengthen the color
of the sea with turquoise deep.

13

Add Windsor violet to the far cliffs where they meet the
sea to push them back into the distance. Paint the grass
on the distant cliffs on the right with a mix of cerulean
blue and burnt sienna.

11 Cliffs and beach | 115

Scraping back
Scratching paint away with a razor
blade enables you to create small,
broken highlights. Make sure that the
razor blade is sharp and only use just
enough pressure to scratch away the
top layer of paint.

 Cliffs

14

When the paint on the sea is completely dry, scrape off
some of the paint, using horizontal strokes of a razor
blade, to create the effect of the crests of the waves.

and beach

This