Botanic Gardens, watercolour

I produced this painting over the last two watercolour classes. It is from a photo taken by tutor David Forster in the Botanic Gardens here in Edinburgh.


The first stage was to paint the ground and foliage using roughly applied patches of greens, yellows and browns. Without detail, this was more like a pattern of colour, creating an impressionistic feel. Then the tree trunks and branches were added in very dark paint. The sharp edges of these provide great contrast to the rest of the image. Finally the leaves and ground on the right-hand side of the picture were darkened to bring out the lighter areas.

The instructions I followed:

1) Use dry paper, unlike the wet-on-wet technique I tried earlier.

2) For the leaves and ground, use these colours:

Lemon Yellow – the closest I had was Cadmium Yellow
Viridian Green – I used Windsor Green
Rose (Helia Purple?) – I used Alizarin Crimson

The latter two mix to form an orange-brown. An effect of using colour mixes instead of using single colour paints is that as the paint dries the constituent colours become more apparent. So in this case, the orange-brown will have varying degrees of green and rose hues. Whilst writing this post, I stumbled on this useful article about mixing watercolours.

3) Paint the leaves and ground using a moderately wet brush so that the paints run into each other. This results in blended patches of colour.

4) Apply splatter to add interest to the ground, leaves and shadows. A tip for this is to control how much paint is on the brush by spraying excess paint off the brush onto a plate, as this affects the size of the spots. For my painting I didn’t have an appropriate brush (firm/springy) so only managed a little. I could have used one of David’s brushes but chose not to add more splatter.

5) Paint the dark areas with dark blue (Viridian Green + purple). I actually did this after the next step as I was too excited to paint the trunks as I knew this would have a huge effect on the painting.

6) Mix jet black from Viridian Green and Alizarin Crimson (probably the darkest you can get from 2 watercolours). With a dry brush paint the tree trunks, branches, and the odd leaf.

In the first 2 watercolour courses I had with David Forster, I didn’t bother taking notes of his steps as it all seemed quite natural and obvious when he was doing his demonstrations. This year though, I’ve taken notes as I found it too easy to miss steps and forget details! I’m pleased that I’m doing it now. This blog is a great place to keep a record so that I can look back on what I did and retry the paintings in the future.


One comment

  1. Pingback: Watercolour course #3 with David Forster | art fn

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