View Full Version : Step by step for the Venice Series #1 & 2

Cheryl Nielson
09-28-2013, 05:27 AM
I have to give credit to Karlyn Holman for I am using some of her techniques.
You can find them in her book Watercolor Without Boundaries.

First, the Indian ink drawing in Sepia, with lots of detail.

Next, the under painting for shadow. Eventual yellow/gold areas use permanent magenta, and eventual orange areas use cobalt blue. I used a med grey for the rest. The use of the under painting for shadow gives a very rich end color.

Last, I began wet in wet for the houses and sidewalk and after dry, continued on with glazes on most everything else for better control and detail.
I used color sanding on the stairs and the gold house for texture. You use 100 grit sandpaper and watercolor pencils. Hold the sandpaper over where you want the sanding to be (paper needs to be wet) and rub the color part only of the pencil on the sandpaper. It will give you very tiny dots of color. You can make it as light or as heavy as you wish. You can also layer sanding for depth. It should be close to the finish of your piece as the color can be lifted if you wet it too much after it's on.
At the end, I added all the small detail and removed color for highlights (especially the railing).

First, the drawing with Indian ink in Sepia.

The first under painting is cadmium yellow, yellow ochre, English red and cobalt blue. (sorry, I guess I didn't photograph it). You wet the paper on both sides and keep a fine mister handy. Apply the colors randomly and maintain a 'path of light' from one side of the paper, through the main subject and to another side of the paper. I picked up the paper and tilted it around to let the colors run where they will.

Keeping the paper wet, apply the next layer of color in darker hues of the originals. It is at this point that you begin putting on your 10 gram Thai Unryu paper in random ways. I like mine ripped so the edges are soft. So I rip a bunch of pieces in advance so it is ready. The paint will be drawn by the paper into very pleasing ways. It is important to keep the base paper evenly wetted with the mister until you are finished.
I threw paint off the brush, dabbed, blobbed, sanded, and just kept going until I felt it looked balanced. During this process, you still want to maintain your 'path of light'. You also want your darks to start on one side of the paper, go through the main subject, and continue to another side of the paper. I was painting outside the lines! :) Allow to dry. Do not use hairdryer. I takes a few hours to dry. Once it is dry, you want to glue down your Unryu paper with Yes! Paste thinned with water. I use a toothpick and gently pry up an edge of the paper and rub glue on the base paper and gently pat it with my finger. The Yes! Paste is acid free and will not create a resist for further washes. You can use other glues, but they will create a resist. Allow to dry.

Next, I began adding shadowing and detailed washes and glazing, more in keeping with the drawing. Some on dry paper, and some on 'specific area' wetted paper. I tried to maintain my dark and light paths of light, and paint in a dark against light, light against dark wherever possible.

Lastly, I added the detail. More shadow, the foliage and stems for the plants, counterchange on the bars and the windows behind the bars, the flowerpots etc. I also kept in mind where my source of light is coming from.

I felt I covered too much of my white paper in a few areas and used a kitchen eraser sponge to remove some paint here and there. I also used a Caran d' Ache crayon in white to reclaim some of the white in detail areas.

Feel free to ask questions, as I may have left something out.
Enjoy, Happy painting :)
Cheryl Nielson

09-28-2013, 06:03 AM
Beautiful work on these two paintings. Thanks for the explanations of the process. I've enjoyed playing with Karlyn Holman's techniques too. She has some very innovative processes to try with excellent results.

:thumbsup: on your WIP. I've added it to the Learning Demos in the section on Buildings and Architectural Details. :D


09-28-2013, 06:06 AM
Lovely work Cheryl, I may have gone a little darker with the darks, especially the wrought iron fencing.


Cheryl Nielson
09-28-2013, 07:20 AM
Thank you Sylvia for your compliment and for moving the thread to the different area.
Doug, thank you as well...going dark scares me! I'm afraid I will wreck it and not be able to fix it :) I will try darker next time!

09-28-2013, 09:09 AM
Hi Cheryl,
I didn't move your thread, I added a link to it in The Learning Demos so people will be able to access it long after it has moved off the first page in The Studio. ;)

Doug has given you great advice about adding more darks. If you want to see what a dramatic difference it makes, check out my WIP of the Greek Temple (http://www.wetcanvas.com/forums/showthread.php?t=1328842) and see what happens at the end when I got brave and added deeper tones on the advice of my instructor. :D


09-28-2013, 09:15 AM
Here's the first one with a simple curves adjustment:



Cheryl Nielson
09-28-2013, 09:35 AM
Oh OK on the link! Thanks...
I looked at your temple Sylvia....It's really pretty.
Personally, I think 'deeper tones' and 'darks' are different. I could be wrong of course. Maybe I am misunderstanding what people mean by 'darks'?
I like deeper tones better :)

09-29-2013, 03:07 AM
Really interesting Cheryl, a wealth of information and nice to hear your thoughts while you did it too....thanks for taking the time to post this

09-29-2013, 05:22 AM
Loved this Cheryl! An excellent painting and I learned something I can try with my watercolor pencils (which I seldom use).

Cheryl Nielson
09-29-2013, 09:49 AM
Thanks Suzanne and Jan for your compliments!
I'm glad it is helpful...that was the whole reason I uploaded the 'story' :)

09-30-2013, 09:55 AM
Cheryl, I LOVE that book and also own it. I also love her techniques and you've done a FANTASTIC job on both of these paintings. Thanks for sharing your step by step process and showing us the steps too. Lovely work.

09-30-2013, 03:28 PM
Marvelous demo. Thanks so much for posting it:thumbsup:


Cheryl Nielson
10-01-2013, 04:25 AM
Darla, thanks so much...Yes, I love her too (Karlyn Holman)! She has been my inspiration to choose a path in my personal WC style. I have been painting 1 year, and was having a hard time deciding what and how I wanted to paint. I am glad I found her.
Ricky, thank you as well! I am glad my post is useful!