Watercolor Demonstration: “Urban Landscape: Encroachment”

Last Week I finished a watercolor painting from  a series called Urban Landscapes.  I have decided for the summer months to stay with watercolors and will return to painting in oils.

I will start with the finished painting first, then show you how I proceed with my watercolor paintings.  I hope you enjoy the journey.  The whole painting process – from drawing to painting – took approximately 10 days.  I usually have several paintings or drawings going on at the same time.

 

Completed Painting.

“Urban Landscape Series:  Encroachment”, watercolor on Crescent archival watercolor board, Tanna Bennett, 2012

Here is the beginning of the drawing.  For my support, I use Crescent archival watercolor board (hot press – smoother surface than cold press).  I also use Arches watercolor paper, but prefer the ridgid support of the board.   I am using a photograph that I took of an area near downtown.  I believe you should first learn to draw from real life.  That is why I draw directly from my still life compositions and figurative work so I am always sharpening my skills.

I have drawn a grid on paper and my photograph so I can copy the drawing as acurately as possible.  If I use one inch squares on the photograph, then I mutiply it by 3 or 4 times on my watercolor drawing.  For instance, if I use a one inch  square on my 5 inch by 7 inch photograph and I want to increase the drawing size by 3 times, I will multiply  5 X 7 times three to increase the drawing to 15″ x 21″.  Of course you will have to increase the 1″ squares from the photograph to 3″ squares on your drawing.  This method can be altered to any desired increased size.

Once the grids are in place, I will start the drawing.  For an more complication drawing, I will first copy the drawing on drawing r drafting paper then transfer it to the watercolor paper or watercolor board.  Why?  I do this so I can alter or change my drawing using an eraser.  Sometimes, it takes alot of mistakes to have accurate lines and other times the drawings go very smoothly.

Here is the beginning of the drawing.  I always leave a 2 inch or more border around my orginal drawing to I can add more drawing or decrease the drawing.  This gives me the option to change if I am not satisfied with the option.

A little more progress on the drawing.

You are correct, the painting is upside down.  I have masked in the clouds using liquid frisket.  I do not use this very often, but sometimes it is unavoidable.  I have placed the painting upside down so I can paint in the blue sky and I want the watercolor to move downward and darken towards the top.  I have placed frisket and artist’s tape around the buildings so it will not be painted blue.

This is the only time in the watercolor painting I will use alot of water.  I mainly paint with a semi-dry brush, meaning I do not use a alot of water and paint with many layers using small brushstrokes.  I let it dry and immediately erase the liguid frisket to avoid it staying on too long.  Always test the frisket on a scrap piece of the paper you are using to make sure it does not damage the paper after erasing it.

A little peak at the blue colors I am using for the sky.  I had to try the lapis lazuli blue in the sky – just because….

Now I am slowly adding in the very light color washes before I start darkening in with the drier small brush strokes.  The clouds need to be softened around the edges, so I took a lighter shade of the blue sky color and watered down the white edges, careful not to add anymore to the already blue edges.  I want the blue edges to blend into the white areas of the clouds.

The painting is slowly making progress.  I will add many layers to the darker areas maybe adding complimentary colors to give it an extra color punch.  Some areas may have 20 or more layers of watercolor brush strokes.

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