WATERCOLOR: Cozy Cottage Week 1
The first thing a good watercolorist needs to have on their paper is a good drawing. We went over in class several ways to get a drawing on your paper, it is best not to try and do an original drawing directly on the paper because you can damage the surface of the watercolor paper and it will cause you problems when you begin to paint, just be sure to have your drawing on your paper before you start.
Once you have your drawing on your paper you then need to determine where your whitest whites will be in your picture will be then you want to protect them with masking fluid. When I look at the reference photo, I see the whitest whites on the top of the roof and in the foreground on the top of the post in front and some of the bushes along the side of the road but just mostly dibs and dabs of masking so that we have texture in the snow.
Once you have these areas masked and they are dry- the masking will feel tacky to the touch - you will want to wet your entire paper, however, it is important to have the top of your paper at a slight incline this allows gravity to help your paints move and blend, you don't want your colors just sitting in little puddles all over your paper you want it to move so it will blend.
I wet my entire sheet of paper, I have protected what I need to have protected by using that masking fluid so I'm not worried about anything else right now, I'm going to start inthe sky with a light gray that is ultramarine blue, tiny touch of burnt sienna and even a little touch of purple and a lot of water you just want it to be more of a tint then a strong color so add lots of water, you can add more color later if you need to.
Going across the top of the paper I took this light blue grey color and I did kind of diagonal stroke with my angle brush to create the impressions of windblown clouds. I didn't take them all the way down to the horizon, which is about the top quarter of the paper so I did about half of that area, then, while the paper was still wet, I rinse my brush picked up a little bit of alizarin crimson and lots of water, again this is just a tent and right along the horizon up to the clouds and brushed in the alizarin crimson to create a pink sky. The reason I'm using the crimson is because it is a bit on the cooler side and I want this to look like an early morning or late afternoon winter sky. I also added some of these colors into the water area in the pond. We will work with the reflections later but just put some of this color into the pond for now.
While the paper is still damp, I went back into my palette where I had made the gray color added just a touch more blue, a lot more water and tinted the rest of the paper. Be sure that your color is not too strong, we are basically just killing the white of the paper, color comes later. I went over everything do not avoid things you think are supposed to be white, we have protected those areas with the masking fluid you need to have this color on your paper as it becomes shadows and texture in your snow.
Right along the horizon line at the very bottom behind the house, there is the suggestion of distant trees or hills. These trees are in the far distance so you do not see any details or branches so it could be a distant hillside it's too far away and we don't see any detail to know exactly what it is but it is important to put it in because it shows depth in your painting. To get the color for this area, I went back into that same blue grey color on my palette I was using and I added a bit more purple and blue. I don't want it very dark so there is still a lot of water in it but it should be just slightly darker than your sky. I went across that area making an irregular shape and if your paper is still wet like it should be it will diffuse a little as you paint, your paper should be damp to the touch not dripping wet otherwise it will diffuse too much.
Learning how much water to use whether it is on your paper or in your brush is probably the biggest problem for most beginning watercolorists. With few exceptions you never want either your paper or your brush to be dripping with wet paint or water. Usually, having either your paper or your brush damped is a good way to work, there are always exceptions where you will need either dry paper or wet paper or a dry brush or very wet brush but in general having a damp surface to work on will help your colors blend and your paint to flow and having a damp brush will let you have a smoother application of color.
Once your paper is just slightly damp particularly in the sky area you will want to paint in the closer trees in the background. These are trees that you won't see much detail but they suggest that this little cabin is just on the edge of a forest so they are important. These trees are not dark they are just slightly darker than the way distant trees we just put in so again in the color that you have for those distant trees in your palette add just a little more blue and purple and make it just about one value darker then what is already there, just be sure that your paper is not real wet it should be cool to the touch which means it is still drying but that it is not completely dry, you want the trees you will put in to slightly blur. I used my liner brush to put these in but if you notice they are not real specific or detailed they're just a bunch of crocked lines to suggest a lot of trees in the background they are too far away to see detail. Now let your paper dry completely before we go on to the next step.
Again I was using my liner brush to make the trees in the background and near the cottage, if you don’t have a liner but do have a small round brush like number 4 or number 6 that has a good point on it that will work or you can use the point of an angle brush as well, you will just have to play around with it before you go to your painting so you know what you need to do. With the liner brush you want to roll the brush in the paint to fill it up good and as you take it off your palette you roll it between your fingers as you pull up to create a point, then holding it at the end of the brush in a downward angle, starting base of a tree you push down to create a fatter section and then as you pull up into the branches you lift the brush off the paper until you are on the very tip to create very fine lines. To start another branch, put your brush into the trunk or branch then start to pull and branch off, it will give you a better, cleaner look to your tree. Practice this before you get on your painting and also observe trees particularly at this time of year because there are no leaves on them and you can see how the branches come off the trunk how they are not straight or how they have bumps and twists in them and this will give you more confidence when you are painting your trees.
There are three closer deciduous trees near the house one of those trees on the left hand side of the painting is behind the holly tree that takes up the left side, so as you paint it watch at your drawing and skip areas where the holly tree will be in front of the tree. This is so you don't have to worry about lines in your snow on the holly bush that may not lift off but don't worry if you forget or can’t figure out how to do it, while the paint is still wet, you can lift them off with a damp brush or paper towel, just don't rub too hard on your paper because you don't want to damage it, again we will let this dry.
The last thing we did was to mask out some more parts of our painting I'm masked out where I wanted the snow on the pine trees behind cabin and also in the crooks of some of the branches of the closer trees, this is where we stopped for the day because the masking fluid would have to dry before we could continue.
Please try to have your painting to this point if you can, if you are still having problems or questions and do not wish to proceed until class that's fine I will help you to get caught up so keep painting and I will see you in class.