HOW-TO Watercolour Demo – Italy Street Scene Simplified

Our Sept 1 & 2 Paintout at the Artisan’s Festival – Kitty Coleman Woodland Gardens was a lovely warm and peaceful setting to paint in. It was a great pleasure to have two art instructors Rollie and Shannon join and share their painting experiences and insights as we painted together. Reviewing the basics of watercolour painting yielded great results. Here is the development of our painting demonstration from a street scene I photographed in Fabriano Italy:
After developing a thumbnail value study in vine charcoal in our sketch books, we then drew¬†on 140 lb rough Arches 100% Cotton Rag using a 4B mechanical pencil. Notice how the scene is built with a simple one-point perspective – in other words one vanishing point on the “eye-level” horizon line was all that was needed. Note that the paper’s rough texture lends itself well to the subject with its ancient walls and marble streets.
The first washes are applied on wet paper, taking care to mix rich big pools of pigment the consistency of heavy table cream. A simplification of distant buildings painted in cool grey-blues and soft wet-in-wets kept things simple and established a mood. The timing of applying the washes allowed more control – too soon and the pigment will spread too quickly and thin down. Too late and the paint won’t move. A limited palette was used: Quinacridone Gold, Medium Scarlet Red and French Ultramarine Blue.
Now the darks are introduced. The paper is dry at this point and introducing the darks helps “key” the painting. Now we have the complete light, middle tone and dark value range.
And the final touches! Keeping the brushwork loose, the final details are the pretty “jewelry” that dresses up the basic washes. Note the lifted areas in the street, evoking a feeling of a wet “just rained” scene. These little touches are the mood makers, such as figurative elements, birds fluttering in the sky, puddles, mist, cars – they tell a story. Last but not least is bringing the reflective lights and shadows. We can be quite inventive with shadows. The darker the value, the more it says that the light source is brilliant. The gentler the light source, the lighter the shadows.

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