Tuesday Watercolour Class – Week Seven

I gave the students a few guidelines for their paintings yesterday.

1) A tightly cropped composition. I thought this might create interesting negative shapes and emphasize the idea of painting shapes rather than rendering objects.

2) Add a vertical line to the background to suggest the geometry of a room interior. Although we are surrounded by the geometry of windows, walls, doors and shelves  in the studio it rarely makes an appearance in our paintings.

3) Paint the shapes in the background first and work towards the foreground. Most of the students complete the objects first and consider the background last. Backgrounds are too often treated as annoying extra space to fill in and not as integral elements of the image. This usually results  in a very weak figure/ground relationship. Check this informative link for an explanation of the concept of the figure/ground relationship.

4) Mix all colours using only the three primaries. We tried this last week and it’s always a valuable learning tool.


You can see three steps of my demonstration above. Not everyone completed their paintings but I think there are some very strong results. By the way, you’ve probably noticed that not all of the students have been painting. One of the evening students has been studying the drawings of Georges Seurat. Her drawing is in the top left corner of the Tuesday PM Critique below.

Tuesday AM Critique

Tuesday PM Critique


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3 Responses to “Tuesday Watercolour Class – Week Seven”

  1. lindahalcombfineart Says:

    Your students had very good results. (The drawings seem particularly strong this week.) Since March I have painted nothing but abstracts and I have actually painted very few still lifes throughout my life. I may use your class instrcutions to give it ago. This post has loads of really helpful information in it. Thank you!

    • Barry Coombs Says:

      Thanks very much for your comment. Did you look at the Seurat drawings? They’ve been favorites of mine for many years.

      • lindahalcombfineart Says:

        It is fascinating to see drawings like these by Seurat. Preparatory work is often more alive than the final product. Seurat’s paintings often feel very sterile to me but, at the same time, I love the sense of quiet…and the color,,,and the shimmer.

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