Painting a stag,( watercolours are not for the faint hearted )

Painting a stag,( watercolours are not for the faint hearted )


I am sitting in my studio, log burner on, feeling chilly with winter on the horizon. The world seems a scary place just now, especially with wars raging abroad . Then the news of the four lads off on a camping trip to Wales so tragically lost, very similar ages to my son, who has done exactly as they were doing, but on Dartmoor. My studio feels like  real haven , especially when things are happening over which I have absolutely no control.

So settle down, dust off your paints and lets see what we can create.


1. Paints out and cup of tea drunk , I keep my paints in a metal palette, and squeeze fresh paint in when they are getting low. I spray them before use and I am ready to go


2. Then I sketch out the stag, I use photos but I don't draw too much detail, just want to get the proportions right

3. Then as always I start with the eyes, even when they are a small part of the finished piece they still need to be 'right'


4. Then the other precise things like the nose, and the antlers. This is when you really to look, see where the lights are and the darks. Paint what you see and not what you think is there, stand back often and get some distance between you and the painting. Sometimes it is easy to get so involved that you can't see when it looks good.

5. Now the detailed work is done I can have fun with colour. I look for colours in the photo and exaggerate them, I also look for shapes , for lights and darks. I add and take away until I am happy, I walk away at times and come back to the painting, It helps you from rushing parts and not letting the watercolour work it's magic.

The colours are all painted wet in wet as I go. I start with a weak wash of yellow ochre, then drop in other colours, raw sienna, burnt umber , cerulean blue, cobalt blue and cadmium red. 


Keep looking, where are the shadows ? How dark are the darks ? Be bold, Be Brave.

Watercolour is not for the faint hearted, but the more risks you take then who knows what might happen !!



 My stag is finished, make sure you have the tones right , one  brush stroke can indicate a muscle or fold in the fur.


Try not to keep going back in, as that's when they get muddy, 


Good luck x


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