1" and 1/4" flat
#2 liner or rigger
sheet 300gsm Rough
Sienna Ink and Pen
Our subject for this demonstration is
a beautiful old house looking over Sydney Harbour. In the
photograph it looks a little lost, tucked in amongst all the other
houses and overpowered by a collection of boats. With this
painting we will try and give the house a more mysterious
atmosphere by simplifying the composition and using a wash of
Before you start to paint this project
take note of the importance of the areas of white at the
water line and to the left of the building in the final image.
Without these the painting would be
difficult to look at. Your eye would be locked on the building
with no secondary areas of contrast to focus on. Keeping them as
non descript abstract shapes makes them much more interesting.
They involve the viewer having to interpret them as rocks,
buildings, posts or whatever, adding to the mystery of the
Step 1 - Thumbnail Sketches
The first thing to do is work out
where to place everything in your painting. A couple of rough
little sketches will help with editing and rearranging the
information in the photograph.
I have decided to leave out the boats
in the foreground, they draw too much attention away from the
centre of interest. I will push the house over to the right and
move it down closer to the water. There are some palm trees
scattered about so I will tuck them in behind the house to
establish a nice diagonal band through the painting.
My plan is to loose the top left and
bottom right areas with a hazy wash of white gouache.
Step 2 - First wash
After loosely drawing the main
outlines with a terra cotta pastel pencil, a pale wash of Alizarin
Crimson and Quinacridone Gold is worked over the building and
surrounding landscape. Very loose and simple at this stage - most
of this underpainting will be covered as we work on the painting.
Step 3 - Roofs and Bushes
The roofs are a mixture of Scarlet Lake and Quinacridone Gold
with a little Alizarin dropped in on the right hand side of each
A strong mixture of Burnt Sienna and
Phthalo Blue can be washed loosely into the area of bushes. Make
sure you soften some of the edges before before this color dries.
Aim for a variety of hard and soft around the perimeter of these
Step 4 - Cool Darks
Mix a little Burnt Sienna into some
Ultramarine and block in the windows and a shadow in the top
gable. Use your 1/4" brush for the smaller windows and vary the
Back to your 1" brush and dilute this
mixture then wash it into the sky behind where the palms will go.
While this dries, wet the
foreground water, then mix up some Phthalo Blue and Burnt
Sienna and drag in the reflections. A little Ultramarine can be
dropped in to add interest.
Use the corner of your 1" flat brush
and paint the palms once the wash in the sky has dried.
The Jacaranda color beside the house
is a mixture of Alizarin Crimson and Ultramarine Blue.
Step 5 - Final Details
Now is the time to put in some loose
pen lines. Put down a few lines then, before they dry, spray them
with water to feather them out and add some texture to the
You can put some bushes in front
of the house. A couple of soft Alizarin marks here will help tie
the roofs into the painting.
Use your rigger brush to add some more
fine detail - tree limbs, window definition, blue and white
awning, fence posts and rafter ends.
Some more of the Jacaranda colour can
be washed into the left of the sky and into the shadows on the
Mix your Gouache on a
separate palette or mixing dish and don't allow it to mix
with your regular watercolors. It will make them go muddy
Step 6 - Gouache Wash
The final step is to let everything
dry out thoroughly then wet the sky and foreground and put in a
big soft wash of white gouache.
Mix the gouache to a creamy
consistency and put it on with your 1" brush.
As you paint over the palms and roof
try not to stir things up too much. You don't want the colors to
dissolve and bleed up through the Gouache. Lay the Gouache on
carefully then feather it out gently with your Hake Brush. The aim
is to have an even gradation with no visible edge.
Once you are satisfied with the sky, a similar
gouach wash can be worked over the bottom right hand corner. The
result should be a soft, atmospheric setting for this old house on
the waters edge.