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Watercolour demonstration

Location: San Quirico D'Orcia, Tuscany


San Quirico D’Orcia is a very pretty typical Tuscan town where I take guests on painting holidays with Authentic Adventures.
The town’s centre is surrounded by high walls punctuated by large ancient gateways. Flags are often flown throughout its streets and these provide additional interest and movement to already attractive street scenes.
There are many ways a painter can portray and interpret places such as this, from rapid expressive sketches with pencil or brush done on the spot, through to more careful work that takes more time inviting a more detailed, considered approach.  A drawing done on site with notes complemented by reference photos, the rest of the work can be completed in the studio.

What follows is a step by step account of a street scene in San Quirico, where the flags add a special atmosphere.
My first consideration was how to approach the subject because I didn’t have my usual choice of paper, (Arches Rough 300lb.600 gsm) with me. All I had was Arches Rough 140 lb/300 gsm in a block. Nevertheless I pressed on and did the drawing with a Derwent  B pencil; kept very sharp by the way.
Back home I then stretched this sheet. I stretch paper whatever the weight as I like a drum tight surface to work on, but I had to be careful not to smudge the drawing when I blotted off the excess water after immersing it in cold water for one minute.
Next was the choice of colours and how to handle them, and how to avoid the usual limitations of photos, in this case the obscurity of what lay in the shadows.
I any case my usual priorities apply namely in order Atmosphere and Mood, followed by Viewpoint, Composition, Tone and lastly Colour. And as far as paint handling goes to "Mingle not Mix" colours and be content with single strokes; "One brush stroke and move on" and "Mingle not Mix" the colours should be your guiding mantras.
NB I avoid using the word ‘mix’; mingling paint on palette, brush or paper. That way I allow the paints and paper together to do their jobs. Mix a blue and a yellow and all you get is green; not what you actually see in any vegetation. Take a look.

Colours chosen (9), (Winsor & Newton Artist quality)

Cerulean Blue, Cobalt Violet, Cobalt Blue, French Ultramarine, Light Red, Burnt Sienna, Raw Sienna, Viridian, Permanent Rose

Choice of colours is, and should be, a personal affair, but it’s worth explaining my choice of some.
Cerulean blue is a good sky blue, and also offers texture, as being a sedimentary colour it settles rapidly on the uneven ‘landscape’ of rough paper.  
Cobalt violet (another sedimentary colour) I find particularly useful as it can contribute to shadow colours, texture, it warms up other colours and it subdues greens - and more. Perhaps elsewhere I will explore its versatile potential. I wouldn’t be without it.
Join me on the next page to find out how I begin this painting by clicking the 'Let's Get Started>>' link!


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