Wednesday 6 May 2015

Woodland Party "Behind The Scenes" Continued

See my previous post here.

My drawing was approved so it was time to start work on the painting.

The process to get the finished drawing on to stretched watercolour paper can be a bit tedious but it has to be done. Firstly I enlarge the scanned rough drawing in Photoshop and then I print the image on A3 layout paper. The layout is just thick enough to go through my printer and thin enough to act like tracing paper. This enables me to trace on the reverse of the printed image, with a soft pencil and then place it on the watercolour paper and transfer using a bone folder. Some people like to use biro pens for transferring because it's more accurate, however rubbing with a bone folder is very quick.

I remove the print and find the soft pencil has transferred enough to give me a ghost image on the stretched paper. I then go into the drawing with a 3H pencil and very carefully outline everything I need and tidy up any areas that are not legible. By using a hard pencil, I'm able to erase the softer lead and wash watercolour over the top, all without losing the important line work. If I were planning to keep an area very light I might not use a pencil at all, just because the pencil line might show and distract from the overall image.

Once the line work is completed I start an under-painting in sepia watercolour (see below)
The finished under-painting. If you look carefully you can see lots of the original line drawing, especially around the lanterns hanging from the oak tree.
The under-painting serves me well throughout the whole painting process. It maintains an overall warm hue as the majority of the painting will be in transparent watercolour. Also it helps to create tone and define characters in a complicated scene, and it provides me with a useful beginning step into colour because I know, whatever colour I glaze on top, the under-painting will hold the composition together for me. There is nothing worse than having to re-draw a section because the paint has washed away the initial compositional drawing.
Colour decisions being made - there's no going back!!
Under-painting finished, time to get out the colour palette! I start by blocking in the local colours (i.e red for the badger's jumper, green for the leaves), at this stage I'm not thinking about reflected warm or cool light. I have a good idea how warm the final painting needs to be, so I make sure there are lots of yellows, reds and browns, however when it comes to the clothing I either make it up there on the spot or research some old Edwardian photos to get an idea of pattern and arrangement of colour.
Working mainly on the background.
There are so many decisions being made at this stage, such as how best to depict bark on the tree trunk, does it need to have a warm into cool transition, how much light do I need to show around the lanterns, how much detail in the lanterns is required, what colour should the sky between the trees be and why did I decide to paint such a complicated image?! That last question kept on being asked.



Unknown said...

I love seeing the progress of this painting! Thank you so much for sharing the process, I use watercolours myself and am always on the look out for tips, so this is excellent. Really looking forward to the next installment :)

Dow said...

Incredible work! Thank you for sharing. Looking forward to seeing more!

Chris Dunn said...

Thanks Clare and Dow, there's one more post to go. :)

Tatiana said...

This is so beautiful! I hope you don't mind a silly question... I'm just starting out in watercolors and i was wondering what "color" do you use for the underpainting and did use any masking fluid at all?

And thanks so much for posting these...they're so helpful and inspiring.

Chris Dunn said...

Thanks Tatiana!

I use Winsor & Newton Artists's sepia for the under-paintings. I used masking fluid to create the leaves and to maintain the brightness of the lanterns.

Tatiana said...

Thank you ! Happy painting :)