Author Archives: msa

Watercolor painting in stages

“Mountain Stream” was painted from a photo as a demonstration for a class I teach. You can click the picture to see a more detailed resolution:

Final stage of "Mountain Stream."  Create rock textures with heavily applied pigment, a spray bottle and tissue. Layer upon layer creates realistic rock surfaces.

I simplified the background to make it seem more light-filled and mysterious when, in reality, there was a steep grassy bank. I thought the light would make the boulders appear back-lit and give the opportunity for dark and light values.

I begin by dampening the paper with water and letting it soak in and applying more water until the paper was dampened all the way through. The paper was evenly damp. That way I had time to block in the shapes and keep the edges soft. I like to let the pigment and water do a lot of the work in creating textures. When the blocking in stage had dried, I already had some suggestions of rock texture.

Next, I applied pigment that was barely diluted in dabs and smears, sprayed the paint with a spray bottle, gently laid tissue on those areas pulled it off immediately. You can repeat this on the same area over and over as long as you allow the work to dry between each application.

To paint the water you need to first establish what direction or directions it flows and remember that still water lies level. Then again, let the watercolor pigments suggest the texture. Take advantage of those suggestions. I Start working in light values and gradually define the texture of the water. Leaving a lot to the viewer’s imagination is better than over working a painting of water.

First in three stage progression of  "Mountain Stream" watercolor painting. Photo by Bonnie Weber.

First in three stage progression of “Mountain Stream” watercolor painting. Photo by Bonnie Weber.

Second stage in progression of "Mountain Stream." Photo by Bonnie Weber.

Second stage in progression of “Mountain Stream.” Photo by Bonnie Weber.

Final stage of "Mountain Stream."  Create rock textures with heavily applied pigment, a spray bottle and tissue. Layer upon layer creates realistic rock surfaces.

Final stage of “Mountain Stream.” Create rock textures with heavily applied pigment, a spray bottle and tissue. Layer upon layer creates realistic rock surfaces.