24th October 2020

Watercolour Painting Subjects.

Watercolour Painting Subjects
Watercolour Painting Subjects.

Watercolour Painting Subjects.

The more I paint the less “lessons” I am doing and the more I am choosing my own Watercolour painting subjects. I think, if I were a real teacher, now is the time I would be saying you should be doing little studdies, fruit on a table, a coffee cup and flower, little life studies.  I assume people do these because they are great ways of practicing two things which I have already noted as important, shading and detail.

The reality is I’m not a teacher, I’m doing this for fun and small life studies hold no interest for me at all. I want to paint things I like: Landscapes (I’ve done a lot of mountain walking), boats (sailed in my youth and would love to do it again) and building, interesting buildings at least. Now I may come back to you in a couple of weeks and say I was wrong but at the moment I think it’s better to keep motivated by painting something I enjoy rather than forcing myself to do other stuff. I fear it may be a bit like trying to build a cabinet without learning the basic wood working joints first but I alwas was one for learning as I went along!

On this page you will see examples of 3 pictures which weren’t lessons but just images I liked. Two were based on images I found on the internet and the 3rd, the 3 children walking through the woods was based on a photographic of my son and his friends I took a couple of years ago. I wouldn’t say I was totally happy with any of the 3 but they were all “learning experiences.

Sailing Dinghy Lake District
Sailing Dinghy Lake District


I’ve read a bit about composition in that “Watercolour Painting for Dummies” I bought a couple of weeks ago. About balance in a picture, about drawing the eye in. Having said that I tend to rely at the moment on images I “like”. Sometimes I couldn’t tell you why I like a certain image. I’m sure an expert could say it’s because the image contains this or that, or draws your eyes here or there. But, as with the choice of subjects I’m just happy at the moment to paint images I like. If other people like them as well, then great but I’m really being quite selfish about this and doing it primarily for me! Having said that I did make some minor changes to these three pictures as I painted them. For instance, in the painting with the sailing dinghy, in the original photograph the dinghy was on the righthand side. This caused two issues. For one, it was just about to sail out of the picture. For the other it put it on the same side as the two large trees.  By moving the dinghy to the left it changed it so it was sailing into the picture (I assume therefore drawing the eyes in) and balanced the picture up by having to major detailed parts of opposite sides, the dinghy and the 2 trees.

Sailboard - Watercolour
Sailboard – Watercolour

Other things I learn’t.

When you follow a lesson they tell you what to do in what order, what techniques to use where and even which colours to use. When you are doing your own picture you have to work that out for yourself.

The lessons I have done so far have already taught me many of the techniques I need in the images I am doing. Although I obviously need to improve them. Wet in Wet Skies, water of various types, different trees, mountains etc…..

The obvious order to do things in is the shy firsts, then the distant mountains, then move forward making the colours stronger as you do so. This normally works OK although painting a strong light colour in the foreground doesn’t always work well even if the darker background is faded. Remember watercolour paints are transparent so will still show colour behind most of the time. For this reason I masked off the main elements in each picture (the boys, the dinghy and the surfboard/sail). This meant I could paint backgrounds, water and ground without worrying about them.

I’ll talk about colours more at a later stage. For now I’ll just say the shade of each colour you use seems to make a big difference when mixing. I’m using a lot of trail and error at the moment. Unfortunately that sometimes means I’m unable to replicate a nice colour I make!

Well that just about bring you up-to-date with how I’ve been getting on and watercolour painting subjects.. Over the next week or so I’m hoping to look at a different type of watercolour painting: “Pen and wash”. It’s normally used for quick sketches out outdoor painting.