Loosen Up !

Loosen Up !

I am asked many times how to produce looser watercolours , and as with most things in life it isn't easy. I think you have to be quite confident in your painting to begin with and then you have to be brave. This being the weekend , time being short but still feeling the need to paint  I though I would try to paint a robin as loosely as I dare.

I found a good photo that was royalty free and sketched it out 




Then I like to paint the eye as realistically as I can, I use a very small brush and add yellow ochre and a very small amount of cerulean blue. I also leave a spot of white paper 



Then I add a darker brown , leaving a small patch or yellow to bring some light into the eye. 



I add more dark's to the eye and a pupil , look really carefully and when it looks 'real' stop. 

Then I painted the beak 



So now I have the hooks to base my painting on. I like it to be loose but not unrecognisable 


I wet the body of the robin and add wet paint into it, so wet in wet. I am adding the shadows and the shading on the body .


Be really careful as it can all get just too wet, look at the reference photo and decide what is important.

Then I moved onto the red breast, I used some masking fluid to protect the area around the eye and some markings on the wings, so far it all looks quite neat



So now you need to be brave....

I sprayed my work with a spray bottle 


Cover the eye when you do this, and most importantly don't panic, let the colour spread and see what happens

Then let it dry and keep going . reinstating colour and adding darker areas of shadow



So in this painting you need to control how much water you use, but also let the watercolour work it's magic. Now we are in the final stages, I wait for it to dry and remove the masking fluid so I can paint the area around the eye. I also add some legs and some splashes and splatters. Stand back and have a look and only add things that add to the painting


It isn't easy but it is fun, the painting goes in and out of focus but stick with it, if it doesn't work you can always try again, often the braver you are the better the results




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Tried this this morning. It went very nice.
Hope things wil get beter in a few weeks for al of us. Take care!


Great tutorial. As the daughter of a draftsman I tend to be too precise. This breaks it down really well to the areas where you need precision and where you can go a bit crazy!

Morag Donald

Thank you for this, it’s such a help to see what your process is. Definitely going to give this a try!


Wonderful description of your process!


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