Watercolor Painting Demo | Joan Iaconetti’s “Subway Series,” Exit Only

Joan Iaconetti finds endless wonder in the depths of New York City, accentuating its grit in blurred effects and exhilarating texture in her watercolor painting. View some of the progressive stages of her piece, Exit Only, below.

Learn more about Iaconetti’s watercolor painting in the October 2015 issue of Watercolor Artist, available now in print or as an instant download at northlightshop.com, and on newsstands beginning August 18.

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Step 1:

Reference photo

watercolor painting demo step 1 | watercolor painting

Iaconetti takes photographs holding her camera at a slight tilt, conveying a sense that it’s a hand-held, candid shot, taken while rushing to or from the train. This sense of immediacy will carry through to the finished piece.


Step 2:

Manipulating the Photo

watercolor painting demo step 2 | watercolor painting

With the Google Picasa application, she converted the color photo to black-and-white, then exaggerated the contrast with the Highlights-Shadows filter. Sometimes she also uses the Pencil Sketch filter to make an even simpler linear image.


Step 3:


watercolor painting demo step 3 | watercolor painting

She applied Picasa’s Posterize filter to her original color photo to see the image simplified and in high-contrast, allowing her to  gauge and adjust her values.


Step 4:


watercolor painting demo step 4 | watercolor painting

Iaconetti used a free program called PosteRazor to enlarge the image to 30×22, and transferred it to Arches 300-lb. rough watercolor paper. She then created several studies in various smaller sizes, using overlaid spatter in various light colors, to explore ways to improve the composition.


Finished Watercolor Painting

watercolor painting demo, final painting | watercolor painting

Exit Only (watercolor on paper, 30×22) by Joan Iaconetti




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