While walking my dog in the morning, I noticed parts of branches that had fallen from the trees. Just a few days earlier, I was painting along the American River with some friends. And a friend was using a stick to sketch on this watercolor paper with black ink before he started using large washes of watercolor. I thought that I could sketch using a stick and watercolor on the paper and then start putting on large washes to balance and harmonize the painting.
This painting is of Windsor. It was done on an 18" by 24" Canson 140 lb. cold press watercolor paper. I was able to buy it at Michaels in a large XL pad of 30 sheets at 50%, which made it 60 cents a sheet. Using mainly Winsor & Newton professional grade watercolor paint and brushes (2" Jack Richeson 9010 Signature Series flat wash brush, #6 round Richeson Professional 7000, #20 daVinci Cosmotop Spin round brush, 1 1/2"Princeton Angular Wash 4050AFW brush, #10 and #6 and #2 Isabey squirrel round brushes).
Step 1 – Taped watercolor paper to board with 1/4" masking tape. Hint: Make sure you only touch the long edge of the watercolor paper (24 inch) with about 1/16 inch of the 1/4" tape. Reason is that most white mats you can find already but are 17 1/2 inches by 22 1/2 inches on the inside. You don't want a white border to show within the painting.
Step 2 – Wet your paper completely with clear water, then spray your dry paints with clear water to loosen them up. With a sharpen stick, pick a warm color like Cadmium Yellow Light or Raw Sienna and start sketching your subject. Switch colors frequently from colors like Cobalt Blue to warms like Permanent Rose. Make your sketch simple and loose.
Step 3 – Let your paper dry and evaluate what colors you want to use for showing the sun shinning on objects like the building and trees and dark areas like shadows. Think of complementary colors such as Yellow and Purple or Red and Green. Use large washes with a large flat brush. Let the painting dry completely.
Step 4 – Details such as windows, doors, roof tops, tree trucks and branches, groups of leaves, and shadows on the street and building. Use darker colors or mid-tones for the shadows. Let painting dry again and re-evaluate it.
Step 5 – Track I learn from some German artists, apply thin lines of light whites and dark lines. First, use your stick with a dark color like Sepia (dark brown) or a mix of French Ultramarine Blue with Burnt Sienna which makes black. Draw a line under the roofs edge, and upside down L shape on the windows, and upside down J on the doors, run upwards to make the shape of a tree trunk and branches. Let dry and over some of the dark areas apply a light color like white. Touch and go, just short and then long lines using Chinese white or Naples Yellow to highlight around parts of windows, under roof edge, along tree truck and branches, around door – just here and there but not too many. Make sure to sign you painting in either the lower left corner or lower right corner, which ever is furthers away from your center point of interest (focal point).