Watercolour project

Hanging on a quiet wall at my Mothers house is a rather dour Victorian watercolour of a river and winter trees. It’s largely been overlooked but I was peering at it the other day when I realised the skill in the painting is outstanding. I’ve borrowed it for a short while in order to make a study of it.


The Ouse at Sunset

Normally I post a story of my work but this time the story will unravel as I work through the project, learning as I go.

Janet will appreciate the fresh and stretched piece of watercolour paper. Langton 140Lb not. 420x297mm


Stretched watercolour paper

So, it’s already not quite gone to plan. The old tape I’ve used to stretch the paper has not completely stuck around the edges and the paper is ‘not’ where it should be extra smooth. These items may cause the paper to buckle and restrict the detail on the painting. I’ve a feeling the original artist used poorer quality paper so his skill is extraordinary.

Next is to draw out the line work.

I am now realising that I’m opening up myself to actually having to complete this project and show every mistake – but here goes…

Well, the drawing didn’t take long. The trees will be added later so I needed to get the sky and some of the ground and water painted in. look hard and you will see some line work.

Simple line work

Simple line work

The first painting must be the oranges and yellows of the sunset. I can then place the base washes upto and around this strip of colour.



The ground base colour now goes in…


The artist I’m following has managed to get the clouds in with very soft edges. I’m not really sure of the technique so I’ve been trying a few out on the paper.


Now for the base line of clouds and trees in the distance and a little bit more experimenting.

clouds5Adding the tree line has provided more depth and balances the sky. Next is a little tinkering around the  center of the painting and and adding edges to the water. Its starting to look more like a landscape. Scary trees tomorrow.


I’ve now been working on the trees for a couple of session and they are hard. I can’t get the quality this artist has achieved. Every limb, branch and twig has been painted with such individuality and depth – its almost photographic. My work is very sketchy. It also takes so long and I can’t spend so much time at the desk. I have to really concentrate to get this done but I’ve developed a nasty toothache and this is not helping.


Well, with so many branches, twigs etc where do I finish? Also the original is so much darker should I take the picture to the limits? I find the original too dark so I’ve chosen a lighter side of dusk. I’ve learnt a lot and its shown me that I’ve still a long way to go. But the picture works and I now need to use my own composition and storytelling.


The Ouse


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