Tag Archives: balance and harmony

Tutorial 5. Warm up landscape.

In this short video, I am using the same techniques used in the Calla Lily tutorial.

This is a warm up exercise that I have used for many years. You end up with a little landscape painting, which again can be modified in many different ways, by changing the horizon line, adding some mountains, etc. The key is that it’s all about warming up and playing. By the way any colours can be used.

Before e mail, when I would send lots of snail mail around the world, I would paint these little landscapes on the envelopes. A great way to warm up, and the receivers always enjoyed.

For the sky area I am using – Winsor & Newton Cotman series, Turquoise and Dioxazine Violet.

Between the sky and land, Winsor & Newton Gold Green, and a mix of Prussian Blue and Burnt Sienna for the foreground.

I use a knife or credit card to scrape out grasses in the foreground.

It’s important to note that I don’t use black in my watercolours. Rather I mix Prussian Blue and Burnt Sienna for my darks. I would suggest that you play with swatches of this combination.

Note that I bring colour from the top of the painting into the foreground….because the sky naturally reflects upon the land. Everything reflects and everything is interconnected. This also helps to balance and bring harmony to the image.

This little story points out how our minds are conditioned by what we are taught, rather than what we actually see or experience.

When giving a workshop in Wales one beautiful sunny January morning, one of the participants painted a landscape he had seen on the way to the workshop. He explained that the fields in the landscape was actually blue, and then went onto say that as there are no blue fields in winter, he painted them brown……..

The fact was, the man had seen blue fields. He had seen the reflection of the clear blue sky onto the white frost covering the fields. Rather than believe what he actually observed, he instinctively chose to go with what he had been taught.

When we first enter the world, we are naturally full of curiosity and wonder.

By the time we come to the end of our formative years, at around seven, the narrow definition that our culture has imposed upon us has taken hold.

Happy warming up and playing.

All these exercises can be found in my book The Apple Exercise. The book is available through the products page of my website at http://www.janetweightreed.co.uk

A Bientôt

Tutorial 2. The power of negative space.

For this second tutorial, I am using a Calla Lily as my model.    I have always loved its exquisite form, and have used it for many years as both symbolic and decorative imagery in my paintings.      



It is key to train the eye to observe both the subject and the negative space, that which surrounds the subject.    Often we try so hard to make something happen…..to paint a perfect (in this case) calla lily, or solve an ongoing problem.     When what we need to do is observe and record the negative space, which surrounds the subject, and voila…the answer is revealed. 

In Frame 1.  Working on white paper, I have sketched the calla lilly using a neutral colour (yellow ochre) however, if you wish to use a pencil, brush, felt tip pen, that’s fine.    Note that after sketching the form, I immediately begin to add colour into the surrounding area – the negative space.   I am using a mix of burnt sienna and prussian blue. 


 Frame 2.   I continue to add the mix of Prussian Blue and Burnt sienna into the negative space, which automatically reveals the lily.  Note that I am working on a dry surface.      To manipulate the paint, I use one of the most important techniques in watercolour painting.     With a clean, wet brush I pull the paint out to the edge of the paper.    This gives an element of control, and helps to avoid muddiness….the enemy of all watercolour painters. 


Frame 3.   As I pull out the colour with my clean, wet brush….I am able to bleed more colour into the wet background.   I bleed in some violet and turquoise, and at the same time use a kitchen knife to scrape out some of the colour.    This gives a sense of movement and breaks up the density of the negative space. 


Frame 4.  In this image, using some of the same colour that is in the background, I begin to indicate the shadows.    Very little pigment is used for this.     The white paper, in this instance, becomes the whites in the image.     In other words I leave areas that I want to stay white, completely dry. 


Frame 5.   Now I begin to strengthen the shadows and build up the colour in the Lily.   Remember, any area I want to keep completely white, I keep as dry white paper.      It is important to note, that I take the same colours I have used in the background to make up the shadows…..this is because, everything reflects upon everything else, and all things are connected.    It will also help to give the image a sense of balance and harmony. 


Frame 6.   I like drama in my paintings, and so I am strengthening the shadows using pigments that are in the background.   By doing this, the white of the lily becomes more pronounced….again giving a sense of drama.     I


For this image, I have used Winsor & Newton, Cotman series – Burnt sienna, Prussian Blue, Dioxazine Violet, Turquoise blue, cadmium orange, and Winsor & Newton artist’s great Green Gold (a pigment I highly recommend) 

I  used an ordinary kitchen knife to scrape out the paint.    Cutting off the corner of a credit card works very well.    Probably the best use for any credit card:)

Next week, I hope to  show some one minute videos, which might help you with some of these techniques and also talk about my book The Apple Exercise which incorporates all the different elements which will be shown in these tutorials. 

The Apple Exercise, is available through the products page on my website at http://www.janetweightreed.co.uk

A Bientôt

For now wishing everyone a lovely weekend. 

A Bientôt