@unadigs on Instagram asked for a step by step process of how I approach a plein air in watercolor. I always forget to take pictures while working, mainly cause I'm too wrapped up in painting. Paint dries pretty fast outside in the summer and I like to paint wet in wet. I don't have the best multi tasking skills, so holding a palette, brushes, and remembering to take pictures was...OKOK! enough of the excuses. lets get to it! One last thing, sorry for the tilt of these photos.
Here's a short rundown of my supplies. I'll do a more in depth blog post of my things in a couple days. I use four brushes, a collapsible plastic water container, atomizer, full palette, and carry a tube of white watercolor.
-Cheap bristle brush
-Size 3 squirrel mop
Paints used for the painting
Step 1: The Drawing & light washes
I no longer use a pencil for the underdrawing. Instead, I use a brush using a light value (lots of water, less pigment. aka "tea") from whatever that's leftover on my palette. For me, I just like the fresh look of the paint without the markings of graphite interrupting the flow of the painting.
Check out the work of Frank Francese who is an incredible watercolor artist that for me defines freshness in a watercolor painting.
I made my necessary marks establishing the horizon line, the height, width, and angles of the subject, tried to save some white of the paper. Honestly, I do this pretty loosely, so sometimes some of those things are off. I have my board tilted and work from top to bottom, so that my washes can be coated evenly on the paper. I let the paint mix and mingle together and not worry about it. Leaving some bleeding adds an interesting effect that you can't mimic.
Step 2: Establishing shadows
I let the paint dry completely before I move on to mid-dark areas like shadows. This mixture of paint and water should be about 50/50.
Step 3: Moist and Darks
I try to add these darks using dry brush while the application from the previous step is still wet. It's the best time to work I think. You get to play with edges. Honestly, I didn't do a good job at it. I tried to give it a few sprays while I was working, but the sun was getting stronger by the minute!
Step 4: everything else!
I forgot to take a picture of the cars and figures before this stage, but I admit that they weren't painted well. I would have liked to have painted these more thoroughly and more wet, but excuses excuses!
Step 5: Final touches
I added and mixed white with the other colors to create highlights for figures, bell tower, and cars. I'm too careless with saving the highlights from the paper, so using that titanium white allowed me to add it on instead.
This was my first time painting at this location, so there are a bunch of things that I'd like to do differently the next time. Things like being more careful on saving whites & overall structure of the drawing, paying more attention to the temperature and tone, choosing a different color scheme, and pushing the background back some more. I felt like the first wash of the building was too strong and the shadows of the building weren't strong enough. The next time I'll play more with stronger contrast and color harmony.
An artist to check out to better understand the consistency of paint and water, see Joseph Zbukvic and his book Mastering Atmosphere & Mood in Watercolor
And again, Frank Francese if you want a more fresh and graphic approach.
I've updated the watercolor/plein air section from the Artistry page with a few new works including this one, so check it out by clicking on the picture above! See ya Wednesday.