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Old 06-10-2017, 02:29 PM
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First watercolor painting, suggestions please



Here is my first watercolor painting. I copied it from a painting done by a famous artist (HS) who managed to make hers look simple and fresh with no unnecessary brushstrokes.

My painting required many, many brushstrokes and then several layers of titanium white to hide where the paint decided to run and not stay where I put it, lol!

The scan is close to how it looks IRL.

I'd love some guidance and suggestions. My hubby and son made similar comments about it. Their remarks were "Why is the swan yellow and blue?" and "Why is everything so yellow?"

I know that if this piece had been painted well, it wouldn't have mattered if it was painted in purple, orange and neon pink!

I'm not sure if it's really the color that is the problem? Is it that there are too many layers? (I was having a hard time controlling the pigment and water and tried to keep correcting, correcting, correcting by covering up previous mistakes.)

I don't expect to be an expert on the first painting, of course! But I'd like to understand "what" is causing the trouble in this piece so I can work to avoid it in future attempts.
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Old 06-10-2017, 02:42 PM
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RBloechl RBloechl is offline
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Re: First watercolor painting, suggestions please

We've all started there. It takes a lot of practice to learn the craft. With this subject, it would have been better to mask off the swan, and paint in the background with LARGE brushes, keeping the brushstrokes to a minimum. Going back into a wet wash is a mistake. Let the paint dry before going back over an area. The swan should be painted last, but you should leave some lighter reflections in the water before you finish the background.

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Old 06-10-2017, 05:35 PM
oldey oldey is offline
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Re: First watercolor painting, suggestions please

I don't know what your reference painting was but I like the simplicity of it. Rich is right. Mask out the swan and work the background then detail in the bird. Lets not forget his eye! You can mask with fluid that comes in small containers and is applied with a tool or old brush. You can also use a pen like this one. You won't need to use any white if you use this method.


You have made a good start! In fact I find it hard to believe it is not muddy looking by the description of all the rework you did. The colors are still pretty bright.
I try to let the watercolor do it's thing and get out of the way. So in this painting that would mean perhaps masking the swan and maybe any reflections or light reflecting on the water. Then working the water by wetting the paper and applying the paint, wet on wet, and letting it flow and mix in it's own lovely way. After it dries then remove the masking and work the details in both the water and the swan.

Full disclosure....there are way more talented watercolor painters here than me...this is just how I would approach this particular piece.
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Old 06-11-2017, 01:08 AM
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Re: First watercolor painting, suggestions please

It is OK in my book, the only problem is the angle of its beak.

Best to use the white of the paper for the swan.

Doug
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Old 06-11-2017, 08:15 AM
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Re: First watercolor painting, suggestions please

As a beginning painting, it's excellent. Most beginners paint too much and over and over the same area hoping to get it right. Yours looks good. Perhaps darkening just a little under the swan. A darker blue where the water meets the swan wouldn't hurt. Remember to have the darkest dark against the lightest light-the paper for your main interest.
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Old 06-11-2017, 09:41 AM
janinep7 janinep7 is offline
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Re: First watercolor painting, suggestions please

I think you did really well, and I recognize the exercise.
Just keep going and don't get too hung up on any one painting. (or any hundred of them!)
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Old 06-12-2017, 11:53 AM
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Re: First watercolor painting, suggestions please

Thank you Rich, Oldey, Doug, Jan and Janine for your kind comments and suggestions.

I've got masking fluid on my list to purchase next. And I'm really going to try to limit the brushstrokes and not keep attempting to correct things.
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Old 06-12-2017, 04:38 PM
jaredlovestodraw jaredlovestodraw is offline
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Re: First watercolor painting, suggestions please

I can tell you were shooting for light.
To me- it's because the color looks arbitrarily placed. the yellow sits under the head. It doesn't tell a story of what the light is doing. The yellow should sing of reflected light and move with the rhythm of the picture. The same is for the blue- is it reflection of the blue from the sky? A lot of the color just looks placed and (not that there is anything wrong with that on a first picture or first 1-200 pictures.)
I also feel like it's key doesn't have a story or purpose. It's very high key. It's like a candy shop and the sweetness is too much to taste anything. If you study saturation and bring the saturation or intensity of the overall image down it'll give more unity to the color so that the color on the bird will have more prominence and interest. Save the higher contrast and saturation for where you want to hit the hardest.
Just my thoughts.
My main suggestion would be to give it one more look and turn the page. It's a great start but you won't really feel like you have control of what you're doing until you get above 500 or so small paintings. I suggest you do observational sketches of everything you see to study materials and light.
Beautiful work, though.
Happy sketching!
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Old 06-13-2017, 12:33 PM
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Re: First watercolor painting, suggestions please

Thank you, Jared. I can see and understand exactly what you are saying.

Now to move on to the next attempt and hopefully incorporate this new knowledge...
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Old 02-01-2018, 10:53 PM
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davidkhoirul davidkhoirul is offline
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Re: First watercolor painting, suggestions please

Hi,

I am amazed because my first watercolor painting was not as good as yours. Congrats on that. I'd like to give my critiques regarding this painting. I know maybe there is no reflection in your reference, but you can make it up. Also, you can make water darker. Here is a quick overpainting which I did on photoshop to your watercolor work.

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Old 02-02-2018, 01:12 AM
Johndk Johndk is offline
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Re: First watercolor painting, suggestions please

Wow. Your first watercolour. (I wish my first try was that good).

Keep painting, because lets face it watercolour requires patience, practice and perseverance. I am going through a mountain of paint and paper and I am still trying to get it "right". To add to this challenge, as I get more into it, the more critical I become of my work. It's taken me a while to realise I mustn't take myself to seriously and rather just have fun painting.

Well done, and keep painting.
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Old 02-03-2018, 02:02 PM
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Re: First watercolor painting, suggestions please

David, thanks for the photoshop swan ideas. Even as quick as your version is, I like it better! That shows me that I need to stop worrying about details and get the big stuff correct.

John, you're right about having fun with this. I've got miles to go before I know what I'm doing, so I might as well enjoy the journey!

I looked at both of your work and all I can say is Wow!
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Old 02-07-2018, 01:51 PM
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Re: First watercolor painting, suggestions please

I rather like your first attempt. You didn’t over paint it (like I have the habit of doing) and you kept it in a simple state.

As a number of people mention masking out the swan is a good idea and painting the background with a large brush is ideal for water.

As you learn you can try going into the wet wash after the background is in and try adding some water ripples and reflections. They look better at this point rather than trying to dry brush them in (and getting hard edges). Then paint the swan last.
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Old 02-14-2018, 03:12 PM
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Re: First watercolor painting, suggestions please

Thanks Rabbit, I'll try your suggestion on the next water piece I attempt.
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Old 02-17-2018, 03:54 PM
joesurfer joesurfer is offline
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Re: First watercolor painting, suggestions please

I can not find one single thing wrong with your painting except it Maybe needs more darks to give a full range of values.
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