'First Burn' with Brian Smith
||Arches 140lb NOT paper, 11” x 15”|
||Royal Talens Rembrandt Artist Quality Watercolour Paints (tubes):
Raw Sienna, Cadmium Yellow, French Ultramarine, Cadmium Red and Burnt Umber
Most of my painting consists of five or six colours to retain harmony in the work, whilst all other colours and tones are a combination from the selected range. I move down the sheet from top to bottom establishing sky tone first to suggest and establish the direction of light. The white paper on this occasion was covered all over with the weakest possible wash of Raw Sienna and Cadmium Yellow to state the lightest value - the sun catching the top of the caravan and tent on the finished work. You need to establish in your imagination a visual image of the end result before you start because with watercolour the lightest value in your work has to be reserved to retain light and mood in the finished piece.
After sketching the basic elements of composition move on to laying the colour. Firstly put a clear wash of water over the whole sheet then a very pale tint of Raw Sienna and Cadmium Yellow over the whole surface of the paper to act as the lightest light in the work. Whilst still damp introduce very pale French Ultramarine and Cadmium Red towards the top of the sky followed by a light wash of Cadmium Red along the horizon, making sure to cut around the highlight of the caravan roof and the awning of the tent on the left. By now this area should not bleed too much; if it does, dab off the colour to reserve the highlight.
Whilst the paper is still slightly damp drop in the trees which are a mix of Cadmium Red, French Ultramarine and Cadmium Yellow mixed on the paper, not the palette. Let the colours run into each other to ensure an irregular edge to suggest the tree profile. Use the brush on its side with less water and more pigment. The colours need to dilute to a pale mix of Cadmium Red and French Ultramarine as they drop down the paper to the bottom. Drag a clean damp brush through the centre to suggest mist by lifting out colour.
The underlying very pale base colour should come through for the top of the tent and awning along with the caravan roof.
Once dry (ie the sky and foreground) now indicate the balloon, remembering to light from the right hand side. Use a touch of Cadmium Yellow running through red to blue on the shadowed side; don’t forget the basket and most importantly the burn. While this is still damp, with the end of a small brush suggest the structure of the balloon; this will leave a very light indentation into the paper’s surface into which the pigment will collect to indicate form. Now add a foreground wash of slightly stronger French Ultramarine with a touch of Cadmium Red and possibly Raw Sienna. Now suggest the distant people against the misty background; just in silhouette, (don’t let their heads get too big), and allow them to blend into the foreground wash. Leave highlights here and there to suggest light.
Add a final wash of French Ultramarine and Burnt Umber to give shadow to the side of the caravan, chairs and awning, side window and any relevant detail. Add a little more Raw Sienna in the foreground to give an earth value. With an old blunt knife move the foreground pigments whilst wet to suggest tyre tracks, rocks or whatever you like to give interest. The exercise should now be finished.
Thank you for joining me in this demonstration I hope you found it useful.
The ways of watercolour can give great fun and be wonderfully rewarding.
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