Watercolour Step-byStep Demonstration... Boats in Mevagissey Harbour, Cornwall

Stage One:
Having lightly drawn the image on a piece of stretched Watercolour paper a wash was applied for the sky... the warm cream colour lower down with just a hint of blue further up.

Stage Two:
This involved painting the background, in this case, what is actually the inner harbour wall. Initial light washes were applied, before the middle tones using a variety of colours for the different elements before the darks of the shadows and dark elements were painted. A shadow wash was then applied leaving the 'light' areas unpainted. The shadow wash was also applied to the middle and foreground boats leaving the highlights unpainted.

Stage Three:
The middle distant boats were painted next. The choice is either to paint all the areas that are all the same colour or paint each boat separately. In this case the later was chosen and started on the left and worked across. Again starting each boat with the light toned colours before moving to the middle and darks. When completed most of the above two stages was given a clear wash just to soften the whole feel - great care is needed when doing this as some of the underlying colours can run quite easily.

Stage Four:
The painting of the water and reflections was completed next as it gave more freedom with the washes when painting the water. The water was built up using a number of washes before starting on the boat reflections. These were built up using a number of layers to gain the deep colours. To finish this stage, the buoys were painted.

Stage Five:
The last parts to be painted were the foreground boats. Like those in the middle distance each was painted individually starting on the left and working towards the right. The usual technique for each boats, although always working from light to dark, is to work from the top down - cabin/mast etc first, before doing any internal elements then finally doing the outside of the hull/fenders/numbers etc.

"Afloat in the Harbour", Mevagissey, Cornwall.
Watercolour. Alistair Butt © 2008.

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