Exploiting the medium.

Exploiting the medium.

We have had some brighter days here, but the mornings are already feeling a bit autumnal. 

A beautiful walk a Belstone (Dartmoor) was stunning

Today is a rather long winded blog about how I like to exploit watercolour . I tried this with my recent lioness piece inspired by England's women's football team, trying to paint just enough, but also letting the watercolour flow.


Next onto the crow...


So I am fascinated by these intelligent, and in my opinion beautiful birds. I have always wanted to paint them, but they do pose a challenge as if you paint them in all one colour they will look flat and dull. Here is my process for painting a crow, a different one than the one in the competition but still a crow. I never use black either so quite a challenge when painting a black subject

So here's how I painted mine.

Firstly I sketched out a crow.

Then I painted his eye, I love this bit, really concentrating on the detail. If you want to see how I paint eyes then do check out some of my other blogs. 

Now a bit of fun, lots of wet in wet, cerulean blue and paynes grey, and let the paint work it's magic., See where the light hits the feathers.

Now I began on the beak, attention to detail, see where there is light and use your best brushes, that come to the finest points for this part.

Now I am chasing the watercolour, lots of water, lots of blues and purples, then nice rich tones of paynes grey. Some places need a much stronger concentration of colour to indicate the feathers. When parts are drying add marks to suggest the pattern of the feathers


Then I sprinkled a little salt for even more texture.

Let that dry and go in with some more darks.

Then back to detail as I painted the feet

And finally as I didn't want to spoil my painting, I added a branch in pencil . Hope fully a colourful crow , that you know is black really.

And so there my crow has perched for a while now, but I thought I might show you how I exploit watercolour a bit and give my pieces a bit more pizzazz !


So I reach for my magic sponge. You know the cleaning ones made for removing stains, and I look at my crow carefully.

I splash a lot of water around and rub gently on the painting where I want some 'lost' edges.

There can you see?


I also use my spray bottle to wet the paper in various places, I can't say where just where I think feels right.

Now I can splash some cerulean blue around.


I can add more or dab some away with a tissue

I think that adds to my original crow and exploits the watercolour a bit more. 

Now the paper has been wetted so it can go a bit bobbly

But leave it flat a while and it usually sorts itself out.




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1 comment

I love your crow Rachel!
I live in Northern Ireland and there are so many crows living in the trees near our house, by the river.
I tried painting one this week( before I read your process….a pity!) and it was heavy and overworked……I always fiddle too much!
I will try again……..with you sitting on my shoulder, guiding me.
Warm Regards,


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