Materials used:French Ultramarine, Light Red, Naples Yellow, Cobalt Blue, Burnt Umber, Prussian Blue and Cadmium Yellow. The Watercolour paper is Arches 140lb not surface. The paper size is 12x8 inches and it has been stretched onto a ply board.
This old Welsh farmhouse used to belong to an old friend of mine, it is six miles out of Oswestry in North Shropshire, it is just on the inside Welsh Border. It is the perfect subject to paint. As it is a very quiet area it can appear to be 'spooky' almost, so I shall paint it as it is.
Right lets get on with it, the first thing I do is wet all of the paper, and as the water settles I begin by dropping a weak wash of Naples Yellow into the central area. As that settles in I add a weak wash of French Ultramarine mixed with Light Red. Into that I drop a stronger mix of the same as this begins to dry I add some Cadmium Yellow trying to sweep the colour downwards and out to the sides. It now needs to be left to dry.
A small thing that I can point out now is that watercolour never dries the same colour that it was when it was wet, it will always dry lighter. I will shut up now and put the kettle on.
Now that the paper has dried I feel that I need to establish the house and outbuildings being very careful not to overdo it.
To do this I mix a weak wash of Light Red and a little Cadmium Yellow and apply a wash to the buildings, as the first wash settles I add some stronger colour into it to give a 'patchy' appearance. The surrounding trees need to be established now as well so I mix some Prussian Blue with a tiny amount of Cadmium Yellow and apply the wash to all of the background and start to sweep the wash down towards the foreground. I can now add a little Burnt Umber into the mixture to darken small areas.
At this point I want to establish the stone wall to the left and to do this I use Light Red and Cobalt Blue, the resulting mixture is a pleasant grey. While that is left to dry I apply the same but weaker mix to the windows and the roof of the buildings.
What I must do now is define the fence to the right because it is in danger of getting lost. I also add a few brush strokes of green to the foreground I now need to let it all dry again. Again as it dries I am amazed to see that it is not as dark as I first intended..
The main thing I want to do here is to establish the darker areas of the painting. I mix some French Ultramarine and Light Red, because I am not using a lot of water the resulting mixture is quite concentrated and this is how I want it.
I start by defining some of the joints in the stonework in the wall and then I follow that by applying the same technique to the outbuilding on the right. I also need to apply some shadows to the fence, that will sharpen it up a little. I now need some sunlight in the painting to bring it to life, the easy way any artist can do that is by looking for an obvious light source and then painting cast shadows off solid objects. In this case the chimney's are the ideal object, after that I add darker shadow to the base of objects, such as the wall and fence.
By painting the house very light early on I can now see a good way that I can apply contrast to give added depth to the painting. On the left hand side I will paint the trees very dark, much darker than they are.
The result is a sharp contrast that can only improve the painting, you will notice that as the trees get closer to the ground I get darker and darker. This is what I call an application of 'artists license'.
What I am doing now is establishing the depth to the painting by adding dark shadows but the painting itself needs I feel a little more colour. As it is quite a dark painting anyway I need to be careful about my choice of colour.
I am going to apply some Cadmium Yellow to the house and as it settles I add some Light Red to the right hand side as this dries I add a little more red, I must refrain from overdoing it though. I now apply some strong shadows from the chimney's that are cast across the roof and darken the left hand side of the chimney's at the same time. When the paper is dry I apply a few bricks to the house. It is the suggestion of bricks that I am looking for and not detail.
A few more dark joints on the roof tiles are needed as well and I shall use the same mix of French Ultramarine and Light Red as before but this time I will add some Burnt Umber. Now I am going to apply some shape to the stone wall in much the same way as I have done the roof tiles, I build the joints up gradually, it takes time but looks much better than trying to apply it in one go.
The painting is now at the stage where I do not think it is finished but I am not sure, so I shall take the dogs for a walk. Looking at the painting after a short rest is good for the mind, and it often looks different after the break.
Well there is not a lot to do now, when I have had that break the painting always looks as though it needs a little more work. I find that the final session is often achieved with just a few simple brush strokes, but, it is so easy to spoil it so I just add a few darks followed by a few more very darks and it seems to bring the painting to life. I think that word contrast is what I mean.
Something very dark against something very light is a sure way of getting a result.
I hope you have enjoyed your visit and I thank you for staying.
I forgot about the birds, sorry, they are just a quick brush stroke using a weak mix of blue and red, again when dry I add a few dark strokes to try and give them some shape. Bye for now.