Throwing everything but the kitchen sink at it!! ( or a step by step guide to painting a turtle)

Throwing everything but the kitchen sink at it!! ( or a step by step guide to painting a turtle)

I painted a sea turtle recently and had so much fun doing it that I decided that I would have another try. I have been painting now for many years but only recently have I begun to realise what I really love about watercolour, all artists must find something that keeps them going and for me it is the magic of the medium. I love to paint something so realistically ( like the eye) that I can believe it is truly looking at me and then I like to let the watercolour do it's stuff, I love its patterns and fluidity, and I love the tension between the realism and the abstract. The sea around the turtle provides such opportunities for pattern and randomness, the turtle then provides the realism, the detail and such wonderful colour. I need to find a way though so the turtle is in the sea and not on top of it. 

Step 1 . Find a sea turtle ( pixabay) and draw him , in this case swimming into the painting




Step 2. Carefully 'draw' on the markings of the turtle with masking fluid and then not very carefully splatter and flick some masking fluid all over the paper.



Step 3 . I spray and carefully wet the paper around the turtle and places where I want the body of the turtle to be swimming out of the sea with clean water. Then I drop, splatter, paint lots of blues ( indigo, phthalo, cerulean,) onto the paper I flick more water onto the paper, I drip rubbing alcohol around, and salt and then place cling film around too. I want texture so I raid the kitchen to see what I can use , then I have to be patient and leave my painting to dry naturally......don't fiddle now.



Step 4. After a morning drying I have my background and I can begin painting my turtle.



Step 5.I want him to be real and wrinkly, I want those amazing colours to swim through the ocean.



Step 6.I concentrate as always on his eye, but also on the markings and the colours .



Step 7 After a long time I think he is nearly there, so I focus again on the sea, I want him to emerge from it. So I have to re-wet the paper around the turtle, dropping colours from the turtle into the blues and vice versa. I want there to be lost edges and hard edges. I flick water around again and flick some white acrylic too.



Step 8 Again you have to be patient, leave the painting to dry completely, then rub off the masking fluid and touch up and places that need colour and so my turtle is done x

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I am in a 30 day art class and will be sketching or painting a sea turtle a day in many different mediums.
Your ‘how to’ above is very helpful. And your work is beautiful. Thank you.


I love the mess and chaos of the ocean with the turtle emERGING. The contrast is beautiful. Patience is the key note.
I’m inspired to create my version. Thank you.


Lovely painting, watercolourists think we are judged on our skill level of the completed painting, but, we know deep down it was how brave we were to go that far & we just fluked it at the end ..this painting makes me smile as it wasnt a rabbit or a fox it was a turtle! Bravo you were brave & you are talented!


Esta me gusto mucho!!

Regards from Mexico.


Really lovely and you make it sound like such fun. Have enjoyed painting turtles before will give them another whirl. Thank you for sharing


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