Winter Tuesday Watercolour Class – Week Six


What’s in a background? This is the same photo of the still life that I showed you on Saturday. I selected the green fabric in order to enhance the objects. This, however, isn’t what my students see while they’re painting. They don’t see any sort of backdrop. This is what they see; minus the other students across the room from them.


Now, you know why you see different background colours and treatments in the student watercolours. Have another look at the last Sustained Saturday Critique and you’ll find some very imaginative and vibrant solutions. You might even think that no-one ever asks me for a suggestion about the background in their painting. You’d be wrong. I’m always hearing ‘I don’t know what to do. What do you think I should do?’ Well, I don’t tell them what to do. What we do is review our options. Light or dark? Cool or warm? There are so many things to consider. Let’s have a look at some different background colours with the boots.


WHITE – Like the watercolour paper itself. Doesn’t do much for me. I prefer the green shown above.


ORANGE – Hmmm. I like it better than the white but does it complement or otherwise relate to any of the colours in the boots?


PURPLE – This is the darkest and coolest of the choices, so far. It seems to set off the various warm colours to good advantage. I like it. What do you think?

All we’ve discussed is choice of colour. What about grading the wash from light to dark? Or adding a window or some other familiar element? We’re just getting started but that’s enough for now. It’s time to talk about my Tuesday demonstration sheet.

Watercolour demonstration sheet by Barry Coombs

Once again, I referred to the Saturday class. I talked about colour choices, simplification and process. In some cases, it might be a good idea to paint the entire shape of a boot before letting it dry and glazing other colours over it. In the upper left corner, I painted a green shape. Next, I added the pure Cobalt Blue (see the swatch to the left of the boot). I ended up with dark green and not blue.

With the boot on the right, I looked at it’s component shapes and painted them one at a time. This allowed for more control of the washes, particularly when soft edges were desired. It also gave me a blue and green boot.

The Tuesday students have only half the painting time of the Saturday students. Wisely, most of them kept their backgrounds simple but there are still some very effective treatments.

Tuesday AM Critique

Tuesday AM Critique

Tuesday PM Critique

Tuesday PM Critique

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6 Responses to “Winter Tuesday Watercolour Class – Week Six”

  1. Lois Says:

    Loving the Boot demos. Thanks for sharing, and the Students
    works always nice to see.

  2. Ruth Bailey Says:

    Barry, you have such wonderful set-ups for your students to paint!

    • Barry Coombs Says:

      Thanks, Ruth. When I started teaching painting and drawing (long time ago) I decided to teach from direct observation. I spend a lot of time collecting and planning still lifes. It’s a lot of work but worth it.

  3. Carol King Says:

    Love the boots!

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