Waterscapes – perfect in Watercolour

Watercolor painting – Landscapes are a favourite of mine.  Waterscapes even more so.  I love the illumination you can get through clouds and water, and all that reflection and glow.  For me, overcast days are nicer than clear ones…
I’m lucky we have ample views around my area to give me ideas…but mostly I invent the view…that way I don’t have to do it perfectly!  The only ones of these that are ‘real’ are the top right and middle right.

All painting/photos copyright Jennifer Gilchrist – Artist. Do not reproduce without author’s permission.

MINI CLASS tips: One thing that’s important with a water view painting is to remember that an expanse of water generally gets lighter in colour the further away from you that it is.  The same goes for the sky.  This means that the top of your (blue) sky will be darker than at the horizon (where you’re looking through the most atmosphere) and the near water will be darker close to you because it’s reflecting the sky!

All of these pictures were painted on cold pressed 300g Arches.  This alleviates the need to stretch, though I do tape the edges (it leaves a pleasant white border that is useful for framing).

I like to draw out the picture, lightly onto the paper, just the basic outlines of the hills, the waterway, and maybe where the main trees are.  I would also put a small arrow, to indicate the light direction (such as in Lion Island) when there is one! to remind me.

From the splash and swipe painterly technique (as shown in the small painting The Weekender in the middle) to a more precise style (such as in the Lion Island picture), watercolour paint is a wonderful medium for this subject.   Remember to put your coolest blues in the background and your warmest colours (or add some if there’s nothing warm to paint!) to the foreground.  This obviously adds aerial perspective.  If it’s not there in reality, fake it!

Always leave at least a tiny area of pure white, the white of the paper.  Don’t add titanium or any other white to your paint, it clouds it up.  You want the beautiful glow of the paper through your paint to create tone.  Try to place some of your white, or your palest right next to your darkest to create your focal point.  For example, the Pittwater painting at the bottom of the mosaic has the darkest piece of land next to the whitest piece of water near the centre.  It draws your eye.

It’s always a nice trick to add just a dot of red or orange, perhaps in the form of a rooftop, a vehicle,  or a shining rock…in the middle distance too, it draws in the eye.  You can see the quite bright red dot on the chimney (if you can call it that) of the house in Weekender, the rooftops in the suburban views, and even the very warm brown trees in the Narrabeen Seen.

If you’ve got clouds in your picture it creates atmosphere to allow the clouds and most distant landform to bleed into eachother.  I’d call this a happy accident.  (Don’t, however, leave it too long between the sky wash and the hills wash…or you’ll get those awful cauliflower blooms.)  Both areas need to be wet or very damp, not damp and drying.

Vary your greens, but mix your own…try not to use colours straight out of the palette. They’re a bit unrealistic.  Some beautiful greens can be created using mixing two blues with a yellow (can be a sienna or umber too!) or two yellows with a blue.  Just remember that cool colours mix nicely together, but two warms make mud!!

Enjoy your painting.
Next time – Trees.

If you enjoy a laugh, read my most recent post – How Men v Women Shower, or The Learner Driver Exasperation.

6 thoughts on “Waterscapes – perfect in Watercolour

    1. Kat, you’re very kind. Thankyou so much. I noticed your blog name… and…thinking ‘that’s right down my alley’ had a look. What a great blog. I absolutely love it. I love ‘real life’ humour, and you are very clever.
      Thankyou for your kind comment and your follow – Jenny.


      1. That’s so nice of you to say! I always appreciate meeting someone who’s fluent in sarcasm 🙂 I’m glad to have come across your blog and I’m looking forward to seeing your future posts!

        Liked by 1 person

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