What do you love to paint the most? You’ll never know until you explore a wide variety of subject matter. This online workshop presents a sampler of popular watercolor subjects: landscapes, still life, and portraits. Kelly Eddington will show you how watercolor’s unique properties can do the heavy lifting in each painting. Watch watercolor create a serene blue sky, a soft shadow defining a cheekbone, and reflected light on a shiny surface—all in seconds. Watercolor is challenging and can take decades to master, but this medium’s special quirks are so seductive you might find yourself under its spell for the rest of your life.
Watercolor can be one of the simplest mediums to use, but it does seem to have a mind of its own at times, giving it the reputation of being fussy and unforgiving to work with. In this four part workshop Steve Mitchell gets into the mind of watercolor and see what makes it tick. Success with watercolor depends greatly on discovering and anticipating how it reacts in real painting situations.
Undoubtedly blue is the essential color in my palette and I have up to six spaces reserved in my usual work zone for them. My works are characterized by cold and grayish ranges, so the blues are completely irreplaceable. The blues that I use the most are: Indigo, Indanthrone Blue, Ultramarine Blue, Cerulean Blue Chromium, Lavender, and Cobalt Teal Blue.
When mixed with different earth tones (Burnt Sienna, Burnt Umber, Sepia, etc.) I get infinite ranges of grays for all types of planes (background, middle ground and foreground). Mixed with a single yellow, I get a great variety of greens, as I do not usually have greens on my palette.
In the reference work “Fuente de Castellar” (Castellar Fountain) the blue is the essential protagonist of the work since the source is the main element of the work. To achieve the main gradient, three blues interlaced and fused with the proper density are necessary to produce the depth effect.
Pablo Rubén has been painting since he was a child, and the last 18 years working as a professional artist. President of the International Watercolor Society of Spain, he has joined in many of the most important watercolor Biennials all around the World: China, Korea, Thailand, India, Mexico, Canada, Belgium, Italy and has been awarded in International competitions such as American Watercolor Society, San Diego Watercolor Society, Slovenia International Watercolor Society. He is a passionate artist of “Plein Air” work and has more than 400 awards in this kind of contests in Spain and France. As a watercolor instructor he has given workshops in Spain, Portugal, France, Italy, Russia, Canada, USA, Brazil, and Mexico; being very appreciated as an art teacher. An avid traveler, urban scapes and all sorts of water reflections are the main subjects in his work, playing with aerial points of view to make original compositions.
Pablo Rubén paintings demonstrating the Importance of Blue
“The watercolor medium is honest, challenging and always new. It is the oldest pursuit that I know and has enriched my life at every level. While sometimes frustrating even for the most experienced watercolor painter, it is invigorating and always a learning experience.”
An award-winning watercolor artist, Ron Stocke is a regular contributor to, and has been a cover artist for Watercolor Artist Magazine as well as other publications. Teaching comprehensive workshops throughout North America and Europe, he also conducts demonstrations and lectures on various art materials and creating a safe, environmentally friendly studio. Ron holds Signature Membership with the American Watercolor Society, National Watercolor Society, Northwest Watercolor Society, is an elected member of the Canadian Society of Painters in Watercolour, and a member of the American Impressionist Society. He has been an Artist Ambassador for M.Graham Watercolors for over 15 years.
We are delighted to introduce DANIEL SMITH Watercolor Artist, Lorraine Watry! Lorraine will take us step-by-step through her process for making a watercolor painting.
“Spa Day” is from a photo I took of a Red Crested Cardinal after he’d bathed in a fountain. The photo intrigued me because of all the neutral colors around the bright pop of red-orange on the bird’s head. I decided to experiment with this painting and not only did I try the new DANIEL SMITH Greys, but I also tried a different brand of paper and a technique I don’t usually use – blooms. I began the painting by using my photo software to adjust the composition by moving the bird to the right and added some more water dripping in the fountain.
Step 1: I start all of my paintings by doing a detailed drawing from my photo. I then enlarge the drawing and transfer it to my watercolor paper using my light table. I stretched my watercolor paper onto foam board and while it was drying overnight, I played with the greys and did a small color study to get an idea of my techniques for the background.
Step 2: Next, I masked out the bird and dripping water with masking tape. I used masking fluid to mask some of the small drops of water on the bird’s feathers and in the background, as well as the highlights on the bird’s eye. I began the fountain by wetting the area and used a variety of the greys from Alvaro’s Fresco Grey and a little Gray Titanium on the left, to Joseph Z’s Cool and Warm Greys as I moved to the right. While these areas were wet, I flicked on water for blooms and charged in Bronzite Genuine and Mummy Bauxite for color variety and texture. As the area started to dry, I flicked on more of the BronziteGenuine, Mummy Bauxite, and Alvaro’s Caliente Grey to make the fountain feel like rough stone.
Step 3: I used Alvaro’s Fresco Grey in the background on the left and under the bird on the ledge. I really like this cool/purple grey and I’m already using it on another painting. I glazed some of the Bronzite Genuine over parts of this area to give the gray fountain some patina. BronziteGenuine is naturally shiny so this pigment is fun to see up close because it sparkles. I used Joseph Z’s Warm Grey and a touch of Alvaro’s Caliente Grey to create the dark shadow on the fountain behind the bird. Then I removed the masking on one of the lines of dripping water to see if my values were working. This helps me decide if I need to add more glazes before removing all the masking.
Step 4: I continued working around all the greys of the background and used some of Joseph Z’s Warm Grey for the shadow on the back left. I repeated the greys from the walls of the fountain in the water along with some Green Apatite Genuine and Quinacridone Gold. I debated whether to include the green in the water, but I liked the contrast with the red of the birds head. The green also appears along the front edge of the ledge the bird rests on. I finished up the majority of the background and shadows and then removed the masking fluid on the bird and dripping water.
Step 5: I was excited to start the birds head and I began with Quinacridone Sienna for the lighter, muted orange feathers. After this dried, I added a mix of Pyrrol Scarlet and Carmine for the red feathers. Then to give the bird life, I painted his eye with a mix of Burnt Umber and Sodalite Genuine. I left the highlight at the bottom of the eye and later painted some Quinacridone Sienna on that area. After removing the mask for the brightest highlight, I added a touch of Cerulean Blue, Chromium to reflect the sky in the bird’s eye. The beak was painted with glazes on dry paper using Burnt Umber, Quinacridone Rose, and Cerulean Blue, Chromium.
Step 6: I decided to use Ultramarine Blue and Burnt Umber, a gray mix that I know well for the birds feathers. This mix allows me to vary the gray from cool to warm and keep a unified look to the feathers. I started adding glazes to the bird’s head for shadows and depth and mixed Cerulean Blue, Chromium and Quinacridone Rose for the shadow on the white body feathers. I softened the edges of some of the feathers by applying water while an area was wet or softened the edge after it had dried.
Occasionally I took a break from the feathers and worked on the dripping water in the background. I wet each drip and then painted it using Alvaro’s Caliente and Fresco Greys. I left some of the edges and circles within the drips white to make them sparkle.
Step 7: After adding many layers to the bird’s feathers, I removed the masking fluid from the water drops all around the background. I softened their edges using a small flat brush and water. Then I added some color to some in the shadows. For those that were floating on the water, I added a line to the middle and shaded the reflection in the water.
Step 8: (Detail) At this point, I took some time to look at the almost finished painting. I decided that I wanted to lift some of the color in the water to create some larger white splashes. I used masking tape and a sharp blade to cut out some shapes. I was pleased with how well the Signature Series Greys lifted. After removing the tape, I cleaned up the shapes I created to integrate them into the surrounding water.
In Conclusion: Normally, I would not recommend using so many different grays in the same painting. In this case, the variety of grays seemed to work together for the colors and textures of the fountain. I feel like this experimental painting was a personal success on multiple fronts. The different cold press paper that I tried worked well and gives me an option from my usual CP paper. I enjoyed experimenting with the textures of the fountain and the Primatek Watercolors, and the New Signature Series Greys really added to that effect with their granulation (Alvaro’s Caliente Grey is the only non-granulating gray in the bunch). Finally, it was a pleasure trying out most of the new DANIEL SMITH Greys in “Spa Day”. My favorites are Alvaro’s Caliente and Fresco Greys. Joseph Z’s Warm and Cool Greys are close runners up. These will be added to my arsenal of convenience colors for future paintings.
Lorraine is a watercolor artist painting waterscapes, birds, and reflective objects in a realistic style. Lorraine’s watercolors are characterized by bright colors, dramatic light, and realistic reflections. She likes the challenge of painting water, glass, and metal and recently has become captivated with birds. Lorraine has a Bachelor of Fine Art from the University of Colorado in Boulder and after college designed clip-art for a graphics company for a few years. Lorraine began working with watercolor 25 years ago and taught the medium at Pikes Peak Community College. She currently teaches watercolor and drawing in her studio and at other venues. Lorraine enjoys the challenge of watercolor and starts her paintings with a detailed drawing. She likes to use intense color and many layers to build up the depth in her images. The DANIEL SMITH pigments are her favorite watercolors for their intensity of color, range of pigments, and beautiful granulations. Lorraine prefers to use the white of the paper and does not add opaque whites to her paintings. She is intrigued by reflections and how they interact to create abstract patterns in a realistic scene.
We are delighted to introduce DANIEL SMITH Watercolor Artist, Jansen Chow! Jansen will take us step-by-step through his process for making a watercolor portrait. All Daniel Smith Watercolors, Sets, and Grounds are on sale for 40% off during the month of March – so now is the perfect time to test out some colors, treat yourself to that set you’ve been eyeing, and/or experiment with new techniques!
To demonstrate the DANIEL SMITH watercolor paints and my appreciation and understanding of their characteristics, I have used my favourite 18 colors from the DANIEL SMITH Watercolour collection [see Jansen’s Dot Card colors and list further below] to complete this painting. The title of this artwork is “Tinkus dancer at the Oruro Carnival”. This painting was completed to participate in an International Exhibition organized by the Bolivia Watercolor Society. I chose a colour theme that can represent the National colors of Bolivia.
Today, I will share my creative process of how I created this painting in 6 simple steps:
Step 1 : Drawing / Sketching
I have a lot of ways to start my paintings. Sometimes I like to use a pencil to sketch out the details, other times I start with just a general pencil sketch, and occasionally I paint directly with a brush. I wanted this painting to appear more realistic, so I drew the face very carefully with pencil, but only a few strokes for the background as I wanted it to have a more carefree simple background.
Step 2: Mixing the colors directly on the paper
I personally do not like to mix the colors too much on the color palette but prefer to mix the colors directly on the paper. I first freely applied the DANIEL SMITH paint from my palette directly on the paper to add color to the face of the character and the hat with the colorful feathers, with a combination of thick and thin colour application.
Step 3: Completing the main subject
My usual technique is to leave the highlights of the main subject white, to capture the reflecting light rays. I then slowly painted the important portions of the main subject and applied more details to about 80% of completion of my artwork. Often artists will focus on completing the main subject to about 100%, but for me, I usually focus on completing it up to 70-80% of the whole artwork, so that there is room to add in more colors and strokes as the overall work is nearing 100% completion.
Step 4: Application of the background
I used a single color, Payne’s Gray, to color the background in an easy and free way with the brush and water spray technique. The grey background contrasts sharply with the main subjects’ vibrant and fresh colors! During this process, I pay attention to the space treatment and try to complete the background in an interesting manner during the application of colors by keeping some white spaces.
Step 5: Gradients of the background
I gradually added my favorite 18 colors both carefully and freely through lighter brush strokes. The usage of brushes at this stage is very important! You must use a softer brushstroke with the right pressure and direction to show greater space contrast between the background and the main subject.
Step 6: The Finish
In addition to the strong light illuminating the part of the main body through the white space left earlier, I used watercolor brushes of different sizes and design to apply all the colors on my palette with different strokes, from treating the light to dark areas, to applying bright to dark colors for the details and background of the main subject. Upon completion, you will see that this piece has a strong sense of music surrounding the main subject, because of the colors chosen and the brush strokes applied. The overall feeling of this painting is warm and happy! This really achieves the emotion that I want to express through this painting – that the world is beautiful!
I am very honored and happy to be able to share with you the creative process of my work. I hope you liked it. Thank you!–Jansen Chow
I have always liked painting this beautiful and colorful world with rich texture and colors, and DANIEL SMITH paints make it very easy for me to achieve that effect in my artwork. For me, DANIEL SMITH Watercolors are beautifully made, colorful and offer lots of choices. Most importantly, unlike other brands of paint, the richness and vibrancy of the colours assist me in capturing the beauty I see in this world and express that in my paintings.
My 18 Favourite DANIEL SMITH Watercolors on my Dot Card and used in this step by step article
Cadmium Yellow Deep Hue
Permanent Red Deep
Cobalt Teal Blue
Cobalt Violet Deep
Jansen Chow is a signature member of the American Watercolor Society (AWS) and National Watercolor Society (NWS). He won an art scholarship and studied in The Art Students League of New York, New York from 1994-1996, and he was a student of Mario Cooper, a great American Watercolor Master. Jansen has held 18 solo art exhibitions and took part in more than 350 National and International watercolor exhibitions since 1992. He has won more than 60 National and International awards in watercolor, oil, etching and photography since 1988, including receiving 1st place 9 times in watercolor competitions in USA, Canada, Turkey and Malaysia. Recently he was the IWS Malaysia Country Head, FabrianoInAcqurello Malaysia Country Leader, and the curator of “1st Malaysia International Watercolor Biennale 2018”.
Jansen Chow lives in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia