Have you ever wondered about the work that goes into creating an original watercolor painting, from beginning to end? Below I share with you the steps I use. I hope you find it interesting, and if you are new to this art form, then I hope it helps you along your journey!
Here is the order in which I approach a painting. It is by no means the only way to go about doing so, but it is the way that works for me. As you can see, a lot of work goes into each painting before the brush touches the paper!
1. Take reference photos.
2. Experiment with compositional ideas. I rarely paint exactly what I see, but instead modify it to make a better painting.
3. Transfer the drawing to watercolor paper using faint pencil lines.
4. Stretch the watercolor paper so it doesn't buckle during painting. This involves thoroughly wetting the paper, causing it to expand, and then firmly securing it to a board. As it dries, it becomes taut as a drum.
5. Select the colors to use by experimenting with small painted sketches. I use a limited number in each painting to keep it cohesive, often no more than 8. The majority of the colors chosen for each painting are usually primaries (yellow, blues, & reds).
6. Save the white areas that will receive no paint. This can be accomplished by brushing on liquid mask (aka frisket), covering areas with masking tape, masking an area with plain water, or carefully painting around the areas that will remain white.
7. Paint! I don't follow a formula here. Sometimes I paint the lightest tones over the entire painting first, then build up the darker, richer shades by applying more layers over increasingly smaller areas, allowing each layer to fully dry before adding the next. Other times I fully complete one section while leaving the rest of the paper white, and gradually make my way across the painting.
8. Sign it. I like to find an inconspicuous spot within the painting for my signature. It is done with watercolor paint and a very small brush.
9. Do a happy dance and then relax with a good cup of tea!