Watercolour Painting Tips – 2019 Solo Exhibition GOMA Gallery Exaart Osaka Japan
Title: Sunset Gillnetting
Medium: Watercolour on 100% Rag Cotton
Image Size: H 457 mm (17 in) x W 660 mm (25 in)
Solo Exhibition: Goma Gallery Exaart, Osaka Japan
Raised in a west coast fishing family, I have had plenty of experience out on the water in the small boat fishery and I wish that I could say that I enjoyed all of it. Some of it was glorious, the scenery, the wild outdoor life, the often hilarious camaraderie of fellow fishers. Yet having tried for over four decades to overcome the wretched condition of seasickness, it won out. My compromise has been to visit the coastal towns where my husband still fishes during the fishing season, hang out, wash laundry, cook meals, be a support wherever I can … and paint! This particular scene of setting sun and peaceful drifting as the net fills with fish is an irreplaceable experience.
My frequent visits to Japan where our son lives, married to our beautiful Japanese daughter-in-law, naturally leads me to the outer fishing villages and lifestyles, where the sea is tended like a farmer’s field, bringing in the harvest to the little fish markets and communities that surround. It feels like home, even though it is the other side of the Pacific. I love standing on the shores of either nation, Japan or Canada and sensing that “just over there” is home.
This watercolour painting, one of several in the exhibition, is painted with the same “recipe” I use with all of my paintings: a limited palette, value scale and linked shapes followed by an emphasis on dramatic or subtle mood effects produced by light.
How did I paint this watercolour?
This dramatic image required manageable washes of strong colour. More versatility comes from a limited palette: in this case Alizarin Crimson Red, French Ultramarine Blue, and New Gamboge Yellow.
The striking sunset hours transform the scene as warm light and intense hues emerge. Darker contrasts and silhouettes add to the drama, especially when viewing and painting “contre-jour” – into the light.
Wherever there are bright spots in the sky, water and boat – this is unpainted white paper. The first large spaces of of sky and water were painted in gradated washes. I tend to try and challenge myself by painting glowing colour, best produced by mixing the primary reds, yellows and blues right on the paper rather in the palette.
After the big washes of sky and water dried, I focused on the middle sized shapes of mid-distance trees, etc. These were painted on dry paper – “dry-brush”. It’s important to vary the edge of trees, some hard edges, some soft and wispy.
At this point it is time to assess whether things are standing out the way you intend. What is the focal point? How can I make it stand out more? The strongest contrasts help me see the main focal point ie: the darkest darks against the lightest lights; muted neutral colours beside bright pure hues; smooth flat areas beside textured.
The final darks and smaller details come at the end, and depending on your personal style these can be as detailed or minimal as you like.
Every image in the Goma Gallery Exaart Exhibition follows the same painting procedure: