Join Allan Kirk on the shores of Lac St Ferréol as he captures the atmosphere of a warm lazy day in South West France
The boats from the sailing school can be seen in the afternoon on Lac St Ferréol. I often spend afternoons with my watercolours and easel in the shade of the tall evergreens that surround the lake.
I work quickly, using a palette with deep wells and an easel set between 30 and 40 degrees. I use lots of water including a spray to keep the work wet in the heat. I mix my washes in a deep welled palette and keep a large water container close by.
Be carefree and loose and when you paint, paint the light and not the real world objects you can see. Concentrate upon shapes, and light and dark tones. Do not waste time meticulously working details of a boat or tree in the distance; suggest parts of boats and people rather than being rigid and precise with your drawing. Remember, "If you see a jumble, paint a jumble".
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Use a soft 4B pencil for drawing so you don't scratch the watercolour paper. Attack the drawing freely and confidently. Do not worry about mistakes and keep your lines free, broken and loose.
Start drawing at the cluster of boats being prepared for sailing. Suggest the sails, people and hulls with loose broken lines; do not draw each boat in detail. From the focal point work outwards; let your drawing be more suggestive and less explicit. Keep the top of all boat sails at about the same horizontal level. Vary the bottom of the boats - nearer boats appear larger and the bottom will be closer to the foot of the paper.
Using a masking fluid brush or old brush, apply the masking fluid to the jumble of sails and also to the beach line below the trees in the distance. This will preserve the underlying white paper as you work.
Do not begin this step until the masking fluid is completely dry.
Pre-wet the paper with clear water then prepare colours in your palette. Make sure your washes have the consistency of a cup of tea. Set up wells of five basic mixes: Cobalt Blue mixed with a little Winsor Blue, French Ultramarine Blue mixed with Raw Umber, Raw Sienna, Cobalt Violet and Cadmium Orange.
Using a large brush, wash your blue mix across the whole sky from the top downwards. Add a little Cadmium Orange to the horizon. Use a tissue to lift out paint to create the tops of clouds. Wash the blue into the lake and add a touch of French Ultramarine to this blue mix to darken the wash near the bottom of the paper. Use a tissue or dry brush to lift out and create a couple of light bands across the lake.
Do not begin this step until the previous wash is completely dry. Do not pre-wet the paper. Use your existing colour mixes and refresh them in your palette as you work. Use a medium brush here; I used a sable size 6.
This will help you avoid a bland onetone band of trees. Your darkest tone should be behind the cluster of boat sails. Darkening this section will help the light on the sails 'pop' out of the work when we are finished. Use the same mix to create the reflection on the lake.
Use French Ultramarine to suggest the lapping waves in the foreground and a darker mix to suggest rocks on the beach.
Wet the paper where the bottom of the clouds and the distant hills are set, then add darker tones to the hills and clouds and create a lost and found hazy distance.
Finally when the wash has dried, remove the masking fluid.
In this step use a smaller brush, I used a Sable size 4, for greater control. Do not work on one part of the painting for any length of time. For example, do not complete one person or umbrella - work all over the painting adding colour in bits to umbrellas, boat sails, people's clothing and even additional shadows. Approaching the work in this way keeps the painting loose and ensures that your colours are spread throughout the work.
Darken the trees behind the sails and tidy up the edges left by the masking fluid.
Add a little Permanent Rose into the mix and paint the bodies of the people.
Use a rigger brush to add primary colour all over the work - to people, boats and sails. Use strong washes of Cobalt Blue, Permanent Rose, Winsor Yellow and a dark mix of French Ultramarine and Burnt Sienna.
Create the sails and boats with bright colours. Go on to add colour to the people's clothes. Also add colour lines at random to the boat hulls. Don't forget boat and sail reflections on the lake.
With a dark mix add shadows and reflections under the boats and darken some of the people's heads
Finally, when it's dry, use a Stabilo Fineliner ink pen to add writing to the boat sails.
Visit Allan's website www.tarnincolour.com where you will find details of his workshops, demonstrations and painting holidays, along with a wealth of watercolour tips in his step by step watercolour lessons and on his blog.
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