This will be a brief summary of the past two weeks of painting the rabbit so you have an idea of what we did to get to this point.
First, I drew on the rabbit. I wanted to make him big enough on the paper so he is the focal point but left enough room in front of him so he can move. This is a “landscape” (horizontal) format vertical or portrait would make him too small in the painting and give too much importance to the rocks and weeds. Watch his proportions as you draw him, his body is just slightly more than 2 lengths of his head and his ears are the same length as his head (I measure from between his ears to his nose).
Once your drawing is on wet the entire paper. Don’t worry about the rabbit, he has a lot of the surrounding colors in him, it helps him hide there is also on actual white in the photo so we don’t need to protect or save white, everything gets color at this point.
I used A LOT of water with these first colors so they were just basically tints. They need to be very light because these colors will be the highlights in the finished painting. Remember in watercolor we paint from light to dark which mean to start very light and work in layers. If you are not a patient person, watercolor may not be the best medium for you because you will need patience.
Onto my wet paper I added these tints of yellow, orange, sienna even tints of gray I made by adding a tiny touch or purple to the yellow, then I let it dry completely.
When it was dry – and it needs to be totally dry for this next step – I added some masking fluid to a few areas that I thought I wanted to stay very light. This isn’t necessary but the masking does make it a bit easier so you can just paint and not have to worry about painting around something.
When the masking was dry, I added more of the same colors to most areas but this time I was a bit more selective. I didn’t add more to the rabbit at this time but I did add more general color in the rock areas and weed areas and avoided areas where I thought that light might hit I had my photo right in front of me so I wasn’t guessing. I added more gray tint into the shadows again, this can be the exact same color you used before because watercolor is accumulative and will look darker or more intense in the final painting.
I have not started to paint weeds yet I am just establishing light ad dark – sun and shadow – weeds will come later.
The rabbit I under painted with gray. Again I am not going for my dark darks yet but I do want to start to establish highlights and shadows. The gray can be the yellow and purple you were using or a mix of blue, sienna and a touch of purple keeping it to the blue side/ Please have the photo there to look at when you are doing this and just paint what you see even if it doesn’t make sense right now, it will later on. Be sure to use water to lighten when you need to and always follow the direction of the fur growth with your brush strokes.
I think this was week 1 but there may be some crossover.
At this point we start getting more specific and we will be using both positive and negative painting.
Positive painting means that you are painting the thing itself lit the rabbit or the weed; negative painting means that you are painting the area AROUND the thing like the rock behind the rabbit or the shadows behind the weeds. This is a very important technique we use in watercolor and it goes back to what I said before about painting from light to dark. When we negative paint we are darkening the area behind something so it will look lighter in the end. You must have dark to show light and using negative painting is one way we accomplish that goal in watercolor.
On the rabbit I continued to use just the gray for now to intensify the shadows on the rabbit and to suggest some of the features such as the light rings around his eye. I still followed the fur growth. I also added some gray behind the rabbits face using negative painting to add color to the rock leaving that one side of his face lighter.
Behind the rabbit are a couple of very dark spaces under the rock but rather than paint it dark all at once I negative painted using layers of a lighter gray. Each time I added a layer, I painted around not only the rabbit but also I suggested weeds by painting shapes to suggest a tangle of weeds, each time adding more weeds and the area getting darker.
I also used the negative painting in the weeds in front of the rabbit and in the shadows. This can take time but you should be able to move around your painting as areas dry you can go back over them.
Another technique which I am not using because it means more drying time is to use the masking fluid on each layer of color to make your weeds. It is up to you.
There are also some weeds that are dark against the lighter rock that come up against the dark areas, these weeds you can positive paint using a similar value to the area left in the dark shadow, just continue them out into the light area use your liner or a round brush if you have one.