Window into the Past
A watercolor painting by Karen A. Cooke
This is another painting that lends itself to the properties of watercolor. I like the way the window panes are painted showing the dust and grime of the years and the open window showing the illusion of the empty room inside. The focus of the painting is the window which has some detail, but is not” photographic.”
Since this painting will need to be sketched in more detail than some paintings in order to get the perspective correct for the window, as well as the lines of the log walls and stone, you will need to decide where to execute your sketch. Depending on how comfortable you feel with your sketching, you can sketch directly on the watercolor paper or prepare a sketch on the same size paper and transfer to your watercolor paper when complete. Watercolor paper does not hold up well to too much erasing; so if you feel as though you will need to erase multiple times to get the perspective right, then prepare a sketch on a piece of drawing paper and transfer to the watercolor paper once you are satisfied. As always, the sketch is not main focus of the painting, but should be a guide for the placement of color. Details will be added as the painting progresses with your brush. Refer to my photo below.
140# Watercolor paper – I use Arches
Multiple size brushes of your choice, I used the following:
· #12 round brush
· Flat brush
· Liner brush
· Burnt Sienna
· Burnt Umber
· Medium Yellow
· Payne’s Gray
· Sap Green
· Yellow Ochre
Let’s get started! This painting takes time and is executed in several steps to allow the paint to dry. Don’t rush the work and enjoy the painting!
Masking will be needed on and around the window frame as well as some of the stems and flower area below.
This can be a very time consuming process, but is very important to the final outcome of the painting. A very fine brush will need to be used to make these lines or you can use a fine line masking fluid pen. I used a masking fluid pen on this painting. The one I like consists of a small plastic bottle that can be filled with masking fluid and has a small, hollow metal tube that allows the fluid to flow out of the tube onto the paper. Various types can be purchased on line or in art supply stores. A fine liner brush will also work; however, the pen allows for easier control of the size of the line and helps prevent bubbles in the fluid.
Let’s start painting!
The window panes are painted using a flat brush and a wash made of a mix of Payne’s Gray, Yellow Ochre and Ultramarine. Allow to dry.
Wet the painted panes and working each one separately, use a round brush and scrub the painted surface. Use a paper towel and lift out some of the color in various spots on each pane. This creates the look of dirty window glass. Vary the look on each window pane. Allow to dry.
Refer to my photo above.
Window – Lower Open Section:
Use a wash of Payne’s Gray and a flat brush, paint in the dark open sections of the window, both above and below the window panes. Allow to dry. Use a wet brush and lift sections of the paint from the darkened window to indicate an inside view. Refer to my photo. Allow to dry.
Remove the masking. Use a light wash of Payne’s Gray and Yellow Ochre and paint the window frame, leaving some areas white. Use the gray and yellow to paint shadows and dirt. Allow to dry.
Wood around the window and the shutter:
Painting wood with watercolor paint is one of my favorites! Using a wash of yellow ochre, Payne’s Gray and Sepia (not mixed on your palette), paint the wood using a wet on wet technique. I used yellow ochre first and then dropped in Payne’s Gray and Sepia in various locations. Refer to my photo. Allow the wash to dry. Using a ¼ to ½ inch flat brush with the bristles separated dry brush lines of Payne’s Gray and/or Sepia for wood grain. Using Payne’s Gray, add knots, nail holes, etc.
Note: Paint each wood piece separately where the edges touch. Allow to dry. Do not paint the entire section at the same time as you want each piece to look like a different piece of wood, not a continuous piece of the same wood.
Logs and Chinking:
Using Payne’s’ Gray and Burnt Sienna, paint the logs and the chinking between the logs. Since watercolor will flow where ever the surface is wet, you will need to allow the sections to dry before painting sections side by side. I solved this problem by painting the logs first and then the chinking. By the time I was finished painting the logs, they were dry; and, I could then paint the chinking between the logs. These are painted using a wet on wet technique.
Painting the logs:
Using a flat brush and various intensities of Payne’s Gray, paint the logs. Drop in Burnt Sienna in a few locations. Refer to the photo. Allow to dry.
Paint the chinking:Using a flat brush and various intensities of Burnt Sienna, paint the chinking between the logs. Drop in Sepia in various locations, especially on the edges where the chinking touches the logs. Allow to dry.
Details on the logs:
Use the same technique used on the wood surrounding the window. Dry brush a wood grain on the logs using Payne’s Gray and/or Sepia. Add knots, etc. as desired.
Details on the chinking:
When you paint the chinking it is interesting to know what use used for chinking log cabins in the past in the United States. Sticks or rocks were used between the logs and then mud was dabbed over the top of this material to fill in the gap and make the structure solid to prevent gaps for air, insects or small animals to get inside.
Using a flat brush and/or a liner brush, add some detail in the chinking to indict the texture in the chinking.
As you are painting the logs and chinking in the lower section of the cabin, leave spaces for the greenery. Drop in various intensities of Sap Green. This will be only the background color and details will be added later. Allow to dry.
Painting stone is time consuming as you must paint each stone separately. This is the only way to make each stone look like one independent stone rather than one huge mass.
Use the following colors:
· Payne’s Gray
· Sap Green
Wet a stone and drop in the above colors varying the colors and the intensity on each stone. The darkest colors will be where the rocks touch. If you skip around when painting the stones, you can work quickly as the paint will dry on one stone while you are working on another one. Drop in a little Sap Green in various locations on the rocks for moss. Allow to dry.
Round logs - upper chimney area and chinking:
The round logs and chinking in this area are painted like the cabin logs. The only different in this case is the shape. Refer to the previous instructions and refer to the photo.
Flowers, Leaves and Stems:
Using Medium Yellow and Yellow Ochre, paint the petals of the followers. Refer to the photos and use the darker colors where the petal meets the center. Paint the center of the flower with Burnt Sienna and Sepia. Allow to dry.
Leaves and Stems:
Using Sap Green and a round brush, paint the stems. Vary the intensity from light to dark on the stem to show reflected light and shadows.
Using your round brush, paint the leaves – “drawing” them with the paintbrush as you go. If you don’t feel comfortable “drawing” with the paintbrush, lightly pencil in the shapes of the leaves and then go back and paint. Vary the color and intensity by adding a little yellow to the green to lighten and add yellow highlights. Deepen the intensity and color by adding Ultramarine to the Sap Green for darker areas and shadows.
Leaves and flowers may need small lines to add details. Check the remainder of your painting and see if any additional details need to be added to the windows, wall or fireplace.
Great job – sign your name!