Saturday, August 8, 2009


Who could resist painting this lake with the bright sunny colors of summer reflected in the water? The challenge to me was painting the rocks just under the surface and the reflections in the water.

Watercolor Tip: How to paint the underwater rocks
• Mask your rocks with masking fluid.
• Brush clean water over the water area.
• Mix Burnt Sienna with a little red/violet and using a medium round brush wash this mixture loosely over the shallow foreground of the water where the partially submerged stones are clearly visible.
• While the water is still damp, brush blue over the upper area of the water adding a little of the above paint mixture as you work down over the stones. Deepen the colors if needed with a 2nd layer of paint while still wet.
• Dip a medium round brush in clean water and gently lift off the flattened elongated shapes of underwater stones, varying the sizes. You may need to stroke the brush back and forth several times on the paper to loosen the paint.
• As you lift off each shape, dab the area firmly with a clean paper towel to remove any excess water. Turn and re-fold the paper towel each time you use it to prevent the risk of dabbing paint back onto you painting.
• Mix a dark brown shadow color from burnt sienna and ultramarine blue and using a medium round brush, use this mixture to loosely paint the shadows underneath the submerged stones. This makes the stones look three dimensional and allows them to stand out more clearly from the base of the lake. It also adds texture to the base of the water. Allow to dry.
• Rub off the masking fluid.
• Using a fine, almost dry brush, brush more water over the exposed rocks and then drop in a very pale wash of burnt sienna. Drybrush a darker mixture of burnt sienna on to the rocks in places, for dark accents. To make the rocks look more three dimensional, stroke on a little ultramarine for the shadow areas.
• Add additional detail as needed.

I am certain there are other techniques for painting underwater rocks, but the above technique is what worked for me.

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