“Seeing Simply” is a joint effort by Russell Black and Daniel Novotny. The following post was written by Russell Black. To read Daniel Novotny’s take on the subject click here.

This is the continuation of the article posted last time where I explained how to simplify the following scene.

Image: ©Russell Black

Now, we will take this idea and create the watercolor painting. The entire process can be viewed on YouTube at the following address (but also watched directly below without leaving this page).

Step 5: Learning to make the watercolor painting

The first step in the painting process is to duplicate the original line sketch onto a piece of watercolor paper. For this painting, I’ll be using a half sheet (15″ x 22″), of 140 lb cold press paper.

Image: ©Russell Black

Above is the original line sketch and the sketch on my paper. I use a #2 yellow pencil (HB), to draw on my paper. Since I plan on painting in multiple layers, I make my pencil lines a bit darker than usual so that they will show up after a couple of washes.

Image: ©Russell Black

Above is my studio setup and a shot of my palette. I begin the process by wetting my paper on both sides until the paper is soaked through and lies flat on my watercolor board. Once the paper is completely wet, I take my towel and dry the top of the sheet back to damp. This will give me more control over my shapes when I paint the first layer of color.

Image: ©Russell Black

My first wash layer will be a light midtone wash of Cadmium Yellow mixed with a small touch of Opera to create an orange. This wash will cover the entire sheet except for the reserve areas of white paper as per my value sketch

Image: ©Russell Black

Above is the value sketch along with the first wash layer. I have also splattered some Cerulean Blue into the wet wash to break up the orange wash a bit and add in some texture. Once this layer is completed, I clip the paper to the board and allow the painting to dry completely. I prefer to let the painting dry naturally on the first wash as a hair dryer tends to push the paint around on the paper. Once this layer has dried completely, I will continue on with the second layer.

Image: ©Russell Black

When my first layer is dry (above), I mix up a batch of color consisting of Raw Sienna and Alizarin Crimson. This is a darker version of my first wash and I now paint in the shapes of the second layer value sketch. Again, after I am done, I let the painting dry completely.

My third layer is painted using Indanthrene Blue to place the shapes of the darks (above). At this point, the painting is now blocked in and ready for the finishing touches. Painting in a series of washes is a simple way to construct a watercolor painting. As long as you allow each layer to dry completely, there is virtually no problems with this method. The final step will be to add in the small bits and pieces of my design that will finish off the painting.

“Fixer Upper” – 15″ x 22″ by Russell Black; Image: ©Russell Black

The final step of the process is the addition of the calligraphic marks, and the painting, “Fixer Upper” is finished. I hope that you have enjoyed this demonstration and will give the method for simplifying your ideas a try.

Happy painting.

-Russell Black

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