Try Your Hand at...

Sailing School

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 ortree 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”.

Find out more
A YouTube three-part video of Allan completing a version of this painting can be found on Allan’s Blog.

You will find the demo painting near the top in the centre, click on it to watch. Watching this before you start will help you understand the process better, and it is available for reference as you work.

Join in
If you would like your painting to be one of a small selection to be considered for inclusion in Paint with a brief critique by Allan, please send your work as a good quality photo, copy or digital image (300dpi, minimum 8cm x 8cm) by email to paint@saa.co.uk marked ‘Sailing School’. The closing date is 12th June 2012. We are sorry but we are unable to return your paintings, so please do not send originals if you need them to be returned.

1 Initial Drawing
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.

Initial drawing

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.

2 First Wash
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 yur 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.

Initial drawing

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.

Wash the beach with Raw Sienna and Cobalt Violet; let the colours mix on the paper.

Finally in this stage use your dark green mix of French Ultramarine Blue and Raw Umber to wash in the distant trees.

3 The shadows
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. Using your French Ultramarine and Raw Umber mix darken the distant trees on the shoreline. Vary the mix as you work, adding more Raw Umber at one moment and more French Ultramarine at another.

Initial drawing

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.

Mix a green using Winsor Yellow and Winsor Blue. Wash in the olive trees onthe beach.Use French Ultramarine to suggest the lapping waves in the foreground and adarker 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.

4 Colour
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.

Initial drawing

Darken the trees behind the sails and tidy up the edges left by the masking fluid. With a mix of Raw Sienna and Cobalt Violet, create the shadows on the beach. Add a little Permanent Rose into the mix and paint the bodies of the people.

Using a dark mix of French Ultramarine and Raw Umber add people’s heads, clothes and the olive tree trunks. Also darken the cluster of rocks in the foreground under the sitting people. With a weak wash of Raw Sienna cover the distant shoreline at the bottom of the trees to tone down the white left by the masking fluid.

5 Finishing touches
Use a rigger brush to add primarycolour 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.

Initial drawing

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.

Materials

Paper
Arches rough 300gsm (or any good quality paper)

Paint
Winsor &
Newton Artist
Quality
watercolour
tubes:

Watercolour brushes:

  • Round sizes 12, 6 and 4
  • Rigger size 2

Miscellaneous:

  • Pencil 4B
  • Board
  • Kitchen roll/tissue
  • Palette with deep mixing wells
  • Large water container
  • Masking fluid
  • Masking fluid brush
  • Black Stabilo Fineliner pen

Try Your Hand at...

Sailing School

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.


1 Initial Drawing
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.

Initial drawing

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.

Materials

Paper
Arches rough 300gsm (or any good quality paper)

Paint
Winsor &
Newton Artist
Quality
watercolour
tubes:




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