Watercolor artist Charles Henry Rouse drenches mosaic-style shapes with lively color
to add a vibrant feel to his paintings, as in Road Warriors (below; watercolor on paper, 24×33).
As Rouse begins painting, he works from dark to light. “Many artists work from light to dark, and I used to do just that, but in recent years I’ve reversed the process,” he says. “I find it easier to establish my value system this way.”
Rouse works in sections, beginning at the top of the painting and finishing at the bottom. The broad gray stripes around objects are liquid mask, which he uses to preserve the whites and brights. In each section of the painting, Rouse applies his darks and then builds up to the lights following the areas that he has laid out in the drawing. This procedure gives a somewhat mosaic feel to the work, an approach that has the advantage of keeping the color very much alive. In painting most objects, the artist applies the darks in a fairly deep gray and then washes the local color—the actual color of the object—over the top. He finds this approach helps to re-create the reduced color saturation that’s often visible in shadows. He does a little blending or softening where necessary, particularly in areas such as flesh. Rouse stresses, however, that the bulk of the illusion is achieved through lining up the values.
Follow along to see how Rouse establishes the value system in Road Warriors—and learn more about his painting style and see more of his paintings in the April 2016 issue of Watercolor Artist, available in print and download format at northlightshop.com, and on newsstands February 16.