Saturday, 9 May 2015

Owl in Watercolour: Making Changes

 An owl going through a correction procedure.

Making Corrections and Changes in Watercolour

Can we correct mistakes in watercolour ? 
Yes we can! 

 Workshop Demonstration : Favourite Owl
Seen many times on my workshops over the years.

I promised I would share this owl and discuss it on my blog as it has been a very old favourite demonstration of mine on my workshops for so long now. Artists who have attended my courses may well recognise this familiar piece. I often use this subject for giving demonstrations on how to paint eyes and then work away from a starting point to create the whole subject. And because of the way I work I often choose to leave out many sections so that the viewer of my finished painting can add detail as they wish through their own imaginations.

But this particular owl has a more valuable use on this blog post because I come across so many artists who tell me you can't make changes in watercolour which adds to making it the most difficult of mediums to work with. I believe you can make changes and corrections and I often do. So lets' look at this wise old owl to see what I mean. 

The above image was created by painting the eye without a preliminary sketch. Then finding the outline shape of the face next and playing with colour for the body in the foreground. I used salt and cling film for the main section of the body  in this painting to give me a gorgeous texture effect. On my workshops its an ideal choice of subject to demonstrate how I do this.  But look how I can  take a few risks and correct them if they are wrong.

 Image 1. I have suggested where the back of the head will be by a very light outline of colour. Sometimes when we paint without the aid of a preliminary pencil sketch we are not confident our shapes or proportions are correct on the first attempt. So keeping colour light in your first washes and brush marks is a great tip. Unless you are absolutely sure where your defined detail should be. So if you are new to working without a pencil, take this tip of working with light colour first.

 Image 1. Is the head outline in the right place but how can we correct it if it isn't? The pigment is totally dry so I can think about how to make any alterations in my following stages.

Making Corrections and Changes :  I can change the head outline by applying a new line of fresh colour where I think it should be moved to. Then gently merge this new colour into the background area.. In Image 2  below you can see how I have altered the placement of the back of the owls' head.

 Image 2. Changing the outline of the back of the owls head

But what if I didn't like a line here at all? Am I now stuck with what I have just painted? Not at all, because whilst the pigment is still wet I can add colour on top and graduate this new application of pigment into the background easily. Almost completely losing both outlines that were there in the previous stages of painting this subject.

Image 3. Losing both head "outlines" by simply adding colour at the right time.

There are so many tricks and tips to working in watercolour and once you get used to using them by instinct you never really come unstuck with the medium. Each new situation becomes a fun challenge. So instead of worrying about things being right, have fun working out what to do if they go wrong.

I must admit I loved each stage of this owl but wanted to share my corrections techniques.However,  guess what? My work is still so light in colour that I can choose either of the three above options for my final selection to finish my painting.

Watercolour is great to work with so do have fun with it and forget the old myth that its' a hard medium to use. Its actually the most magical!


Promise kept, my owl has made it to my blog but I have more promises to keep and I will try to as soon as I can! 

To everyone who has seen this demonstration, how are those owl paintings coming along?



Marko E. said...

So glad you are back from the States, I was definitely missing your motivating enthusiasm about all watercolour things :-) Please always be yourself, the world needs you! Best regards, Marko

Dees said...

The owl is absolutely stunning...I love everything you paint but I think if I had to choose your owls are my absolute fav's....Love their sweet expression ♥ your art is amazing!!
(waiting with a cup of coffee in my hand for the postman to arrive with your book!!so excited!)