Tonal Washes and Glazes in Watercolor

by Mario Andres Robinson

This is an excerpt from Judith Fairly’s feature article “The Heart of the Matter” in The Artist’s Magazine (September 2013). Pick up your copy here, or subscribe here.

I was inspired to paint this homeless gentleman, who’d been given a leftover 2010 census T-shirt by the city of Atlanta. The title of the painting, Today We Count (watercolor, 18×24), comes from the top line printed on the T-shirt.

1. Do initial wash and block-in: I usually begin with photo references or working drawings and do an outline drawing on a sheet of watercolor paper. For this painting, after applying an overall wash of burnt umber and ultramarine blue, I blocked in the shadow areas with a heavier wash of the same colors, which would later allow me to glaze pure color over the blocked-in areas.

Do initial wash and block in

 

 

2. Establish skintone: Using Winsor orange, gold ochre, and neutral tint, I added a glaze on the face and arms to establish the skin tone. My palette for skin generally consists of burnt umber, ultramarine blue, cobalt blue, Payne’s gray, cadmium red, rose madder, Winsor orange, cadmium yellow, raw umber, gold ochre, and neutral tint. Every fleshtone is unique; I approach each one differently, modulating the colors in my palette as necessary.

Establish skintone

 

 

3. Glaze deeper values: Next I unified the composition by deepening the values of the skin and background with thicker glazes of richer color. I mix these glazes by increasing the amount of pigment while decreasing the amount of water. This step prepares me for the final one in which I add the darkest values. For this painting, the darkest dark in the hair is a mixture of indanthrene blue and sepia, which together create a vibrant black (I don’t use black from the tube in my watercolors). I deepened the green foliage with a combination of Prussian blue, sepia, and raw umber.

Glaze deeper values

 

 

4. Finish with darkest values: I added the darkest values in the hair, beard, skin, trees, and ground. I didn’t want to add more color or details, and I kept this piece rather muted and stark to put the focus on the subject and the hopelessness of his life situation.

Finish with darkest values

Today We Count (watercolor, 18×24)


Meet Mario Andres Robinson

Mario Andres Robinson is an exhibiting artist member (EAM) of the National Arts Club, an artist member of the Salmagundi Club, and a signature member of the Pastel Society of America. His work has been featured in The Artist’s Magazine, Pastel Journal, Watercolor Artist, American Art Collector, Fine Art Connoisseur, and on the cover of American Artist Magazine. In the February 2006 issue of The Artist’s Magazine, Robinson was selected as one of the top 20 realist artists under the age of 40. Robinson’s work appears in many private and public collections. He is represented by Ann Long Fine Art in Charleston, South Carolina; Haynes Galleries in Thomaston, Maine; and Morton Fine Art in Washington, D.C. Learn more at www.marioarobinson.com.


MORE RESOURCES FOR ARTISTS

Watch art workshops on demand at ArtistsNetwork.TV

Get unlimited access to over 100 art instruction ebooks

Online seminars for fine artists

Instantly download fine art magazines, books, videos & more

Sign up for your Artist’s Network email newsletter & receive a FREE ebook

You may also like these articles:

COMMENT