Painting a beach in watercolor

And i’m back from my holidays with so much reference pictures ! So this week, i’m painting a sunset on a rocky beach near Nyborg, Danemark.

The focus in this reference picture is mostly on the rocks lying on a really simple beach. I love painting rocks and creating textures to make them look like rocks but without being to realistic and detailed. On thing you can’t really see on my picture is the sunset. The sun was hitting everything with a gold warm and soft light. First, i’ve painted a little study of the scene in gouache in order to have a first feeling of it. I didn’t reproduce the gold lighting i had in my memory and i think it’s really needed though !

This first version with gouache was very useful to determine what i wanted in my watercolor painting and what i wanted to avoid also. For example, even if the composition is working well in the gouache painting, i wanted more focus on the rocks so i tighten the framing in the watercolor version. The other important point was the colors. On the gouache painting the golden light isn’t there and for me it’s important to have it on my watercolor version. So i’ve chosen the colors accordingly : strong warm colors with high contrast so that i’m able to paint the feeling of this view !

Painting a beach with watercolor in video

Supplies :
Brush : Escoda aquario nº18.
Paper : Canson Héritage hot pressed.
Colors : Aussie red gold (Daniel Smith), Yellow ochre (Daniel Smith), Quinacridone burnt scarlet (Daniel Smith), Carbazole violet (Daniel Smith), Cobalt blue (Schmincke).

And here you have the finished painting (click to enlarge) :

Paintings with reds in watercolor

I put the blog in pause during my holidays but i’m back at it now ! So this week i just wanted to play with colors i do not use very often : reds.

I don’t have any reference picture to show because i painted this watercolor painting in a spontaneous way. That is to say that i let myself watch what is happening on the paper and i decide what i want to bring up or tone down as i go, layer by layer. It’s a bit of a dangerous process. It can go super good but also really bad. You have to know when to stop ! I often still want to add lot’s of things, a tiny bit of colors there, a bit more water here…

Before starting this watercolor, i’ve choosen my colors to help me go in one direction and not make a mess by using to much colors. I wanted to paint more with reds and pinks because i have trouble with using them. Those colors are very strong and i want to learn to use them in a more subtle way. The trick is quite easy : using more water ! And learn to work them with layers and slowly.

Painting watercolor with reds in video

Supplies :
Brushes : Escoda Aquario nº18, Rosemary & Co Serie 39 1/2″
Paper : Canson Héritage hot pressed.
Colors : Viridian (Schmincke), Rose madder lake (Sennelier), Winsor red (Winsor & Newton), Aussie red gold (Daniel Smith), Opera pink (Daniel Smith), Bloodstone genuine (Daniel Smith).

And here you have the finished painting (click to enlarge) :

Cactus in watercolor

This week, i’m again painting something new, i’m painting a cactus, a prickly pear tree.

The big challenge here is that there isn’t much details to paint ! This plant is composed of big plain shapes so my reference picture looks a little bit simplistic. I’m more use to paint lots a greenery in a very dense disposition. With this subject, cactus, i’m a bit lost !

In order to beat this simplistic appearance, my strategy is to play with colors. I’ve used colors that are not very reallistic with violets and turquoise. And alos i’ve let my colors fuse in one another in order to get beautiful gradients. Having less details to paint made me focus more on my colors strategy and i needed to think a lot more what i was doing. Usually if i made a mistake i will blur it or cover it with greenery or leafy shapes, but here i have nothing with which cover them. I needed to think carefully each brushstrokes.

Painting a cactus with watercolor in video

Supplies :
Brushes : Escoda Aquario nº18, Raphaël le “803” nº2, Rosemary & Co Eclipse round nº4.
Paper : Canson Héritage rough.
Colors : Phtalo turquoise (Daniel Smith), Yellow ochre (Daniel Smith), Rose madder lake (Sennelier), Lunar blue (Daniel Smith), Lavander (Daniel Smith), White gouache (Winsor & Newton).

And here you have the finished painting (click to enlarge) :

Succulents in watercolor

For this week’s video, i’ve decided to associate a technic i’m not very familiar with (creating texture with plastic wrap) with a subject i’ve never done before : succulents.

I have quite a lot of experience with traditional plants and flowers, but i never tried succulentes before this video. And even if it’s still plants, they have a lot of differences in the structure, texture and colors. So i am a bit lost here. But in order to help me find my marks, i decided to work with plastic wrap. When i apply plastic wrap on top of a still wet fresh layer of color, i’m able to create lots of texture with all the folds it creates. And i can move the folds around until i’m satisfied with the texture. With this technique you can create texture for leaves, water and like here rocks.

The final painting for this first try is quite abstract and maybe you need a lot of imagination to “see” the succulents. That’s why i wanted also to show you my gouache painting with the same subject. I painted this one after my watercolor painting. I did want to have a better understanding of the structure of the plants. And by trying many times the same subject, i’ll learn something each time. And maybe later this year i’ll be able to paint another version of the same subject in a more accurate way. Watercolor painting is not success every time but painting again and again in the best way to learn and make beautiful things !

Watercolor’s succulentes in video

Supplies :
Brushes : Escoda Aquario nº18, Raphaël Petit Gris le “803” nº2.
Paper : Canson Héritage rough.
Colors : Phtalo turquoise (Daniel Smith), Rose madder lake (Sennelier), Yellow ochre (Daniel Smith), Lavander (Daniel Smith), Lunar blue (Daniel Smith), Nickel azo yellow (Daniel Smith).

And here you have the finished painting (click to enlarge) :

Watersoluble graphite

No color this week ! Just graphite and studies in black and white. But this is a very nice tool to work with and i’ll explain why in this post !

But before talking about the tool i want to present a little bit my reference pictures. Of course for an easy subject i always choose my cat. It’s the prefect subject for trying a new tool. So i choose a picture with contrast and a nice pose so that i can also enjoy the drawing part ! My second subject is a landscape with lots of different textures. I love this picture and i would like to be able to paint it on a big sheet. But i can’t make up my mind on how to work this one so today i’ll make a tonal study with it so that maybe i’ll have a better understanding of it.

But now let’s talk about the star of the day : watersoluble graphite. It’s a tool looking like a regular pencil but with no wood around. Just paper in order to protect fingers when drawing with it. It can be found in other format such as a pan and you can use it like a watercolor pan with a brush. But here i can draw with my pencil and i’ll be able to smudge and blur the line later with a brush an water. And once my drawing is done i also can add more graphite by taking the pigment from the pencil directly on my brush and then paint with it like a regular watercolor.

This tool doesn’t need lots of supplies to go with : paper, brush and water. It’s the perfect tool to boost creativity. You can just play and have fun with it without all the usual mess with watercolor. It’s easy to take it with you wherever you go and perfect to draw on the go ! The only drawback for me is that it doesn’t mix well with colors. Watercolor pencils or regular watercolor from my palette, they all get muddy and weird with the graphite. it’s much better to use it alone for my taste.

Watersoluble graphite in video

Supplies :
Brush : Princeton Neptune 1/2″.
Papers : Saunder waterford rough, Canson héritage hot pressed.
Colors : Derwent graphitone 6B.

And here you have the two little studies (click to enlarge) :

Lily pads in watercolor

I’ve almost the feeling that i repeat myself a lot in my watercolor’s subjects. But in order to progress, i need to repeat and re-do again and again, don’t i ?! So this week i’m painting again lily pads which are quite a coming a going subject in my sketchbooks.

I’m very clearly influenced by the impressionist current and i admire a lot all the paintings from this era. So as you can expect, i’m also fascinated by ponds and lily pads (or waterlilies?). It’s subject i found very poetic and romantic in a way. My reference picture is coming as usual from the botanic garden in Stockholm. But i also see this plant almost everyday in the waterway close to my home. I’ve tried a lot of time to paint it with various result. The sketch above is one of my favorite because it’s very colorful and also because the lily pads are barely recognizable.

I painted this new version of my lily pads basing myself on my reference picture for the construction but with the liberty and the fluidity of my first sketch. And i restraint a little bit the colors so that the image is a bit more unified. And the result was way further than what i expected !

Watercolor lily pads in video

Supplies :
Brush : Escoda Aquario nº18.
Paper : Canson Héritage hot pressed.
Colors : Ultramarine blue (Daniel Smith), Rose madder lake (Sennelier), Lavander (Daniel Smith), Nickel azo yellow (Daniel Smith), Payne’s grey (Sennelier).

And here you have the finished painting (click to enlarge) :

Spring sky in watercolor – ENGLISH VERSION

For this week, i’ve prepared a video with quite a different subject frome the couple last ones and much more darker : a spring sky.

With a very cloudy and cold spring here in Stockholm this year, i have a bunch of inspiring pictures of dark skies. So today my reference picture is coming from one of my favorite spot, the botanic garden. I went there with the intent to sketch on location some flowers, but i prefered to paint this dark sky. It was moving very fast, there were a lot of wind this day but i loved instantanely the dark clouds but with still some blue sky peaking through.

To paint on location is quite complicated for me, so i have a tendency to over simplifiyng everything, even more than i’m used to. It was 16ºC this day with wind so i didn’t want to stay sitting for a long time and i try to paint very quickly. You can have a look to the result in the picture below. It was a nice start like a study but too much simplifyed. This study was though very useful for this week’s video ! I had already a good idea in mind, i did know what colors i wanted to use, what kind of brush marks i wanted…

Watercolor spring sky in video

Supplies :
Brush : Escoda aquario nº18.
Paper : Canson Héritage rough.
Colors : Cobalt blue (Schmincke), Cerulean blue (Daniel Smith), Yellow ochre (Daniel Smith), Rose madder lake (Sennelier), Lunar blue (Daniel Smith), Indigo (Winsor & Newton), Payne’s grey (Sennelier).

And here you have the finished painting (click to enlarge) :

Dandelions in watercolor

If you follow for quite a while, you know that i like to paint weeds, those weeds we see every day and nightmares for gardeners… But i love them ! So this week i show you how to paint dandelions !

My reference picture is far from pretty, it’s just a fiel of weeds. So before i rush and paint it, i have to think about composition in order to make this picture interesting and dynamic. I need also to create a little bit of depth so that my painting doesn’t look too flat. I choose to create some sort of diagonal with the flowers and they are overlapping in some area to get that sense of depth.

The hardest part in this picture is the gradients. In the first two layers, i’m using lots of gradient technique. But with a warmer weather it can be difficult to get a flawless gradient. The keys : working fast (but not too hasty), have a plan of action in mind so you know what to do and when to do it and maybe a bit more water than usual ! i’ll try this summer to make a video explaining my best tactics to get gradients.

Watercolor dandelions in video

Supplies :
Brushes : Escoda aquario nº18, Rosemary & Co série 39 1/2″, Raphaël petit gris le “803” nº2.
Paper : Canson Héritage rough.
Colors : Indanthrene blue (Sennelier), Nickel Azo yellow (Daniel Smith), Aussie red gold (Daniel Smith), Lunar blue (Daniel Smith).

And here you have the finished painting (click to enlarge) :

Discover Aussie red gold

I’m talking about two new colors i bought in a couple of past videos now : Nickel azo yellow and aussie red gold. So this week i’ll talk a bit more about the second one et i’ll show you how i test a new color.

Even if i’m testing a new color, i need a reference picture ! and i choose this one with quite a nice flower. I can’t remember the name at all, but the color is kinda like this aussie red gold. And like the last video, my goal is not at all being realistic and make the flower recognizable, it’s more about having fun and paint what i see with also what i feel. And it makes the perfect subject for color testing !

In this test i’m looking at three capacity that interest me the most : color transparency, gradient possibility (getting highly saturated color, but also very soft and subtil one) and mixing capacity. And while painting thiw watercolor, i was able to check all this capacities ! Aussie red gold is a very transparent color very similar on that point with quinacridone gold. I can get very soft gold tones and when i’m saturating the color way more i get a powerful orangy gold tone ! I love that kind of color where the tone evolve with the saturation. I’ve tested only two mixes : a green with indanthrene blue and a neutral color by adding some violet. And it’s a great success ! I like in particular the different light i get with greens. It’s like the orange hue is piking through the color.

Discover Aussie red gold in video

Supplies :
Brush : Escoda Aquario nº18.
Paper : Canson Héritage rough.
Colors : Indanthrene blue (Sennelier), Quinacridone gold (Daniel Smith), Rose madder lake (Sennelier), Aussie red gold (Daniel Smith).

And here you have the finished painting (click to enlarge) :

Yellow improvisation with watercolor

This week i wanted to paint something more fun and less thoughtful. My picture library is full of beautiful images (mostly flowers) so i decided to take one of this pictures and create a kind of improvisation.

On my reference image, there is a lot of information and i will just take some of them and integrate them in my painting. So i’m taking first the color, this yellow and all the tones of it, and second part of the structure of the picture and last the rounded shape of the flowers. For once i do not care if the flowers are recognizable. My goal here is to render an impression of bursting yellows.

I’m able to love all shades of blues but i’m very picky about yellows and i can find lots of flaws when playing with the shade of yellow i own (except quinacridone gold which is totally perfect). So i decided to try more yellows, and i choose a Daniel Smith color Nickel azo yellow. This new color has every qualities i love in quinacridone gold (transparency, subtility and also powerfull) but in a colder hue. Exactly what i was looking for ! And the painting in this video is also a test in order to see what i can obtain with this new color. I’m not testing mixing colors in this one but i’m testing if i can be soft and subtle in some parts and powerful in other. And next time maybe i’ll try mixing ! Step by step !

Improvisation à l’aquarelle en vidéo

Supplies :
Brushes : Escoda aquario nº18, Raphaël petit gris le “803” nº2.
Paper : Canson Héritage cold pressed.
Colors : Phtalo turquoise (Daniel Smith), Nickel azo yellow (Daniel Smith), Quinacridone burnt scarlet (Daniel Smith) and Aussie red gold (Daniel Smith).

And here you have the finished painting (click to enlarge) :