Painting Bodies of Flowing Water in Watercolours

Leave the paper white, paint the water blue/green/grey, use line (horizontal, vertical and diagonal), use gouache, paint wet on wet, paint in glazes or a combination of some of the above. These are the choices you have when you paint a body of water in watercolours, which shows what a versatile medium watercolour paint can be.

I drew the five horizon lines I could see and also the shape of the body of water in the mid ground, the shapes of the trees in the top right hand area of the painting and the shapes of the bodies of flowing water.

I prepared two palettes with an array of colours in each: one of yellow through to really dark green and one of light brown, right through to an almost chromatic black, but it did have a brown bias. I started painting the top right hand area first: a key to a composition of this nature, when the design principle in the foreground is closed area, is to have a “way out” and the area of light colour and distant trees is our “way out” in this composition.

I worked light to dark and found that my two palettes were the ideal palettes for this composition, which is composed of sets of horizontal, vertical and diagonal lines.

It took my two hours to paint the background, this was achieved using different brushstrokes including stipple, side of brush, and tip of brush strokes using chisel, mop, rigger and hake brushes.

The mid ground was painted using my prepared palettes of greens and browns as was the foreground.

For the body of still water, I used yellow ochre. I had not painted in the flowing water, quite deliberately until the end of the painting process. I knew that the colour palette would dictate what techniques I should use. I left a lot of the paper white for the flowing waters and gouache for the foreground water.

 

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