Watercolor Art: Should Details Dominate?

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When you have an idea for a new work of art, it can be tempting to let every aspect of it shine forth, providing a buffet of textures for the eyes to behold. But sometimes it’s best to choose a smaller set of details for the limelight. Doing so can help create balance in your work, allowing your chosen textures to dominate the piece. This is how Marie Lamothe, featured in Splash 16: Exploring Textures handled her approach to First Light–Wood Lily (below). Keep reading to also see how Cathy Hillegas (also featured in Splash 16) painted Summer Rain.

First Light–Wood Lily by Marie Lamothe (www.marielamothe.com)
(opaque watercolor on canvas, 10×14)

“The natural world, perched between mackerel skies and the leaf litter of a forest floor, is replete with textures. The challenge lies in allowing some to recede gracefully and others to shine forth. For First Light, a canvas substrate painted with heavier-bodied gouaches in muted colors, applied with stiff brushes and some impasto work, I translated the busy background into an appropriately subtle backdrop without losing its essential character. Happily, the low light of early morning highlighted the qualities of the lily’s petals, allowing the flower to pop off the page.”

Watercolor painting by Cathy Hillegas | ArtistsNetwork.com

Summer Rain by Cathy Hillegas (cathyhillegas.com)
(transparent watercolor on 300-lb. cold-pressed Arches, 20×30)

“Bright sunlight after rain transformed my backyard. Leaves were backlit, and dripping raindrops glowed like jewels. I took a photo, drew the image and masked out the white edges of the leaf and the raindrops. The background was done wet-into-wet, drying and rewetting several times.

“I painted the backlit part of the leaf with a mixture of New Gamboge and Winsor Yellow. Greens were painted on top, one section at time, leaving yellow in between. Shadows on each tiny section added texture and form. The lower right area of the leaf was painted with French Ultramarine Blue, with green or Permanent Rose. Hard-edged dark and light areas make the leaf look wet. I painted the raindrops last, paying close attention to the subtle colors and shapes in the reference photo.”

These two watercolor painting examples from Splash 16 are just a sampling of the beautiful art you’ll find within the pages. Get your copy and you’ll receive enough watercolor art ideas and inspiration to fill your plate. In this series, the featured artists share not only their concepts, but also their watercolor painting techniques, as you’ve seen in these gorgeous examples. And don’t forget to see even more amazing books (for 35% off!) during North Light Shop’s “Spring Fever” sale (use the promo code FEVER35)!

Happy painting,
Cherie
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