How I Create a watercolor painting …. step 3

OK, it is finally a paining and now you can see all the steps it took to get there and the finished product.  You can see that I followed the ink sketch pretty closely.  All the white areas on the ink sketch either stayed white (letting the watercolor paper show through is a favorite of watercolor artists) or had a light wash of color.   You eye is drawn to the white especially if it is next to a bold color.  This helps create a center of interest.  In this painting, the center of interest is the calf in the foreground.

As far as the colors of the two ANGUS , I used some interpretative license.  One of the great things about painting is to INTERPRET not DUPLICATE.   The many different colors in them were used create texture, sunlight, curves, planes, etc.  I could have chosen more traditional colors like deep purple, blues and some blacks( as I have done on other paintings), but I wanted this to have a more contemporary feel.  I added the greenery in the background since these calves were in a pen and there wasn’t any real nice background.  So – I placed them in a pasture with some trees in the background.   Also, I made the shadow stronger in the painting and repositioned it from the ink sketch, the shadow helps “ground” the subject so it is not floating in the painting.


One of my favorite analogies is to think of a painting like a stage for a play.  Lighting and backdrops and positioning are all use to direct your eye toward a certain actor or grouping.  All the other surroundings are kept in the shadow or dark.  When you look at a painting, notice where you eye goes and try to figure out why it went there.  Was there a strong light/dark contrast?  Was there an accent of an unexpected color?

When I painted, my watercolor paper was wet and  my brush had water in it when I picked up the paint.  This is called a wet on wet technique.  Also, I could “drop” another color into a color that was already on the paper.  This way, the colors mix and blend with each other and created a more exciting look than if they are mixed together on the pallet.  The paints I use are called transparent, that means you can see through them – rather than opaque – which are a thicker heavier paint that you can’t see through.

The style of painting that I do is called “LOOSE”.  It means that you don’t reproduce all the details.  You draw the viewer in and let them fill in the blanks.  That way they become engaged and involved in the painting.

For any of you that follow my art, you know that I love to paint animals, and I love them to be bold and colorful.  I think this painting achieved both goals.  click here to see my paintings for sale

2 thoughts on “How I Create a watercolor painting …. step 3”

  1. Wow! The colors are really cool! I like it and the is different from what i have seen of your work. I watched a video on composition by ian roberts yesterday and you echo a lot of what he said. The video took his paintings and increased the Intensity of certain areas digitally. it visually showed how your eye can be pulled to another part of the painting by value or intensity of hue. Fascinating stuff. I like how your moved shadow leads me into the painting. I wonder if the sky had a slight bit of color–would that make the focal point stand out even more? I found my eye drifting to the whitish sky–or that’s how it looks to me on the screen. Just a thought… Nice series of demos!


    1. Thanks for your great comments. Actually, I did end up adding a poof of mid value blue into the upper left hand corner. I always struggle with backgrounds and was trying to make this more of a vignette – I much prefer to paint subjects – but am making myself work on backgrounds. will sure look at the ian roberts video if it is on you tube. I am getting a dvd on value sketch by Ken Hosmer that should be very good.


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