I made this painting in 2005 after a very old black and white photo. The fact that the photo is not in color may contribute to the slightly freer colors in the painting.
The exercise trains the ability to paint really fluently but still with control over the contours and nice savings with a lot of color around. It is also a good exercise in wet in wet technique in general. Since only three primary colors are used, it is also an exercise in mixing technique.
I have used the following colors:
Phthalo blue (RS), the painting can be done with another blue if you do not have phthalo, avoid granulating colors because there is a lot of wet on wet in the painting, heavy color pigments (which granulate) do not float with the water, they become dull in wet in wet.
Quinacridone Rose. An alternative can be alizarin or another transparent cold red color.
Nickel Dioxin yellow. The color is no longer available, but you can use any warm yellow.
Draw the motif with a pencil on the watercolor paper. I think you should at least draw the reeds. It is needed later when you are going to save the tops. Feel free to make a mark for where the shoreline is in the picture. If you think it is necessary, also draw the water reflectors on the right in the picture.
Mix to two different colors, a gray (consists of all three colors) and a red-violet. Wet the entire paper. Let rest for a while so that it is no longer very wet. Paint with these a slightly sloping horizontal pattern on the water surface, It should represent calm waves on water. Avoid gray and violet on top of each other, it will just be one color, paint them side by side. The photo in step 1 is unfortunately a bit overexposed, use the photo for step 2 instead. Let dry
The forest in the background and the reflection of it in the water are now painted. All this is done wet on wet, not by soaking the entire surface and then adding color, but by gradually painting on dry paper with different colors so that they flow into each other. Paint a small area with a certain color, then continue with another color, all the time so that the colors flow together. I used greenish colors for the forest and more blue-violet for the reflection, you do as you like, it should be a nice surface, not flat, but interesting.
While you make all these mixtures wet in wet, you should at the same time think of all the savings, the water reflex has a lot of white highlights in the dark surface. Especially the back, near the shore. Do not forget to save the tops of the reeds standing up in front of the dark water reflex.
I was not so happy with the soft waves from step 1 so I added a little more color (on dry paper) If you like your waves from step 2 you should ignore this step, I used a light gray-violet color for this.
Reeds are painted with an unclear green. Blue and yellow give a pure green color, a little red in that color mix so the green becomes less pure. Paint the reeds completely flat, you do the rest in the next step. Also paint the reflections of the reeds in the water. They should be quite dark and accurate, study the photo carefully so that it looks credible.
With a darker green color, paint a some “shadows” on the reeds, that’s the last thing you do on the painting. Be careful: Fine reeds are better than ugly ones. I also added a little more violet on the water as well, you may not need it, it depends on what it looks like, you should keep the possibility of late changes open.
Do you have students who can do this?
Certainly! All the exercises shown here I have at some point used on my courses. Some do such an exercise very successfully, others less well.
This looks like fun…can’t wait to try!