A Watercolour Painting

Last term, some of my students were asking about my own process in watercolour painting, so I thought it would be fun to show here how I approach this painting. Not every painting will go the same way, but I've tried to show a few different techniques that I like to use.

Getting ready

I've been sketching at some local allotments. Not much growing at the moment, but lovely structures and patterns to draw. 

Here is my desk, with sketchbooks, paints, taped up paper - I'm using lovely handmade Two Rivers watercolour paper, which has a beautiful texture, and is tough enough to take rough treatment.

First layer

First layer of paint.

Ugly stage!

Getting darker

Now I feel free to start darkening up some of the tones, and introducing a few details. 


I enjoy building up the layers with texture - really important for visual interest. Here I am using a sponge roller to add some broken brightness in the foreground.

Correction time

Stepping back, I now wish I had used three bottles instead of two.

Basic mistake!

Here I am using a handy cut out shape of newspaper to help decide on the size and position of the new bottle.


Some drawing has taken place, with watercolour pencils, so that the lines will not interfere with the paint later.

Yellow sky - why not?

The tunnel structures are the strongest feature in the composition at this stage, so I am reserving the white paper for the time being with a liberal use of masking fluid.

More masking fluid

These bottles on sticks are semi-transparent, so I am applying masking fluid on top of a layer of paint. Layering is really important to me in my paintings.

My paints

I'm using mostly Daniel Smith's watercolours, with a few Schmincke. Ooh...that Schmincke cobalt turquoise!

Off with the masking

Now it looks completely different, and I need to balance it out all over again. Fortunately, the strong surface of the paper allows a lot of scrubbing and scratching and lifting out. 


A few tweaks and I think it is finished for now. 

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