View Full Version : Help with background please

04-04-2013, 10:59 AM
Good morning:
I am new to watercolor painting.
This is one of my first paintings and I am stuck with background.
These are my favorite items in the morning: a coffee pot, coffee cups and two slices of cheese.
The orangish color is my attempt to represent my kitchen wall color "guava juice". Not quite what it is in real life, and I am open to artistic interpretations of the wall.
The table : I tried to find the complementary color to the wall, tried cerulean blue and it was horrible. This color is the result of adding some prussian blue and ultramarine blue on top.
All looks too childish and plain to me, though better than original version with cerulean blue.
Could you suggest how to improve the background please? Coffee cups will be white and grayish white.

The photo is taken with my iPad, paints are Royal and Langernickel and paper is cheap watercolor store brand 90 lbs.
Sorry for those poor supplies, but I am away from home on extended business trip. Better supplies are waiting for me at home...

Thank you so much for your help.

04-04-2013, 11:42 AM
I don't think the background needs anything. The arrangement will take shape when you add shadows to the objects and on the table.

Looking good so far.

Welcome to the forum.


04-04-2013, 12:14 PM
Hi and welcome to the forum. Also a welcome to watercolor. You have a great start. The coffee pot is great. I agree that Cerulean Blue would not work for the background. The complementary orange is an excellent choice. At this point I wouldn't do too much more with the background until you are finished with the objects. If the cups are to be whitish, try to use a little bit of a very light value of blue and/or a little orange in their shadow area.
Now for the background. Remember that light is best behind a dark value and vice/verse. Because you are new to watercolor, it might be best to leave the background as is until you have done more paintings.

If, however, you are adventurous, you might want to try this: If it was mine, I would wet the entire background going around the coffee pot and cup with very clean water just barely touching the paper. Let dry until it no longer glistens. Then while wet, use a flat brush with some orange and lightly brush down from top of paper about two-thirds of the way down toward the blue. Pick up the brush and leave alone. The paint will spread out toward the pot. This will give you a variety in color in the background and make it more interesting.

04-05-2013, 08:52 AM
I agree with Doug, the background looks fine to me, just keep going. I'm going to suggest you not over-work the background because if you are painting on cheap paper it won't take much abuse. I'm glad you have better supplies at home; but are still having fun with these more in-expensive items while away on business. ;)

Please post your steps so that we can see how it's progressing.:thumbsup:

04-05-2013, 10:02 AM
Thank you Doug, Jan and Darla!

I am working on the cups now.
What colors would you suggest for the shadows on the table?

Darla, you are so right, that paper will not take much more.
But a few more washes would be OK, I think.
I really want the table darker.

Jan, same orange that I have now for another wash on the wall or real orange?

Thank you again,

04-08-2013, 02:58 PM
I decided to stop at this point before I make it worse.
Tried really hard to put shadows, but it is not easy on the dark background.


04-08-2013, 02:59 PM
It is not this crooked in real life, it is just the angle of the photo taken by iPad.