Lesson 11 – Adding Washes

I am working through the Tate Watercolour Manual, Lessons from the Great Masters by Tony Smibert and Joyce Townsend in an effort to refine my craft. I fully intend to paint like the masters when I finish the book. I’m not quite sure how long after I finish the book but I know it will come to pass some day.

Today’s warmup exercise:

The master whose style I copy in this lesson is John Sell Cotman who began with a drawing and added a series of washes. Corman was very detailed in his work, as told by the authors of my manual.

The book lesson begins with a pencil drawing of a bridge over water, behind which is a mountain and a dwelling. Next, the student washes a very light tone over the entire sketch, save for a bit under the bridge, to preserve the white of the paper.

Here is the first stage:

Watercolor Warmup: Cotman Exercises

First Wash

Note that I forgot to preserve the white in the first panel. I wet the area of the panel and applied a light wash of Payne’s gray, not thinking about the area under the bridge. I corrected this in the other panels.

The second stage requires another wash, this time a bit darker. I darkened the mountains with this wash, leaving the sky and white under the bridge alone:

Watercolor Warmup: Cotman Exercises

Second Wash

Again, the first panel is not correct.

The third wash targets the bridge and separates it from the mountain.

Watercolor Warmup: Cotman Exercises

Third Wash

In the final stage, the darkest shadows are washed in.

Watercolor: Warmup Exercise Using Cotman Example 1

Building Up Washes, ala Cotman – Payne’s Gray

I did a second warmup using sepia:

Watercolor: Warmup Exercise Using Cotman Example 2

Building Up Washes, ala Cotman – Sepia

I do like how the composition builds. One of the difficulties I encountered was gauging the darkness of the washes.

I could not decide what to paint after this warmup. Maybe I’ll think of something tomorrow.

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