Tuesday Watercolour Class – Week One

Welcome to my new subscribers. Winter term began yesterday at my studio. I offered the same lesson to the morning and evening classes. These are three hour classes. Back to basics was the theme. I always try to set up the still-life with the lesson in mind. Fairly simple forms with lots of overlaps.

Our exercise was to create a value study in blue. Colour was added with glazes. The concepts and approaches I discussed included ‘wire frame’ drawing, simplification of form and observation of light and shadow. The techniques employed were soft edge washes and the application of glazes.

Historically, many of the early English watercolour painters painted grey washes over their drawing, creating what was essentially a value study which established three-dimensional forms and a pattern of light and shadow. They would then ‘glaze’ thin washes of colour where needed.

The first image (above) is the entire still-life. Students are expected to select an area of it and not attempt the whole thing.

1) The second image is step one of my demonstration. This was done on Curry’s watercolour paper; 140 lb.; cold press. I drew with a soft (B or 2B) pencil and used a ‘wire frame’ approach. This helps us understand how the forms relate to each other in space. Erasers are not used. Lines are very light although I have deliberately darkened some lines to describe the visible edges of the objects.

2) The third image is step two of my demo. The goal is to simplify the forms to shapes of direct light and core shadow. The direct light is painted with water and the core shadow is painted with a single value of pthalo blue. The blue touches the water and creates a soft edge. I used pthalo blue for this exercise because it isn’t disturbed by subsequent washes. It’s a cold blue and reads well as shadow.

3) The fourth image is an extension of step two. I’ve added cast shadows and varied the large planes of the table surface and the backdrop. An atmospheric space has been created.

4) The final image was painted by Katherine Frech, a member of the evening class. Katherine followed the steps as illustrated above and then added the colour through glazing. The thin washes of colour were applied gently with a loaded brush. Also, she has added another value in places, making them a bit darker.

I asked the students to complete the steps of the process before assessing the work. It’s always tempting to rework areas but it was important to accept what emerged from the process in order to fully benefit from the exercise.


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3 Responses to “Tuesday Watercolour Class – Week One”

  1. susan power Says:

    That’s wonderful Barry… very well explained and demonstrated and it’s interesting. I’m going to try it. Katherine’s image is a “zinger” as you would say.

  2. Nadya Byelova Says:

    hello Barry. Congratulations on the new blog! And thank you for posting class images. Totally makes me want to come back and do more and more of these…

  3. Tony Cook Says:

    This is really interesting and useful information, Barry. As Nadya says, it sure makes us want to stay involved with your classes. (And, for someone who has claimed to be an Internet newbie, you are doing a super job on this blog).

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