Thursday, September 22, 2016

It’s a Wrap! Plastic Wrap, that is!

Watercolor Painting
9" x 12"

The watercolor painting above is painted from a little different perspective to add interest to a common swimming pool setting.    The view looks down on the pool from a higher viewpoint (bird's eye view) – from a balcony or other area above the pool. 


The focus is on the water in this painting.  The texture is added by a watercolor painting technique using plastic wrap.  The swimmer enjoying the pool is painted in a more impressionistic style rather than photographic.  The emphasis, again, is on the water and light reflections. 


Supplies needed:

Watercolor paper (140 lb. - I like Arches) Size of your choice; I used 9" x 12"

Brushes - flat brush, round brush
Masking Fluid and old brush or applicator
Masking tape
Plastic wrap

  • Cerulean Blue
  • Ultramarine
  • Windsor Blue
  • Burnt Umber
  • Crimson
  • Yellow Ochre
  • Vandyke Brown
  • Paynes Gray

Painting Instructions:
The sketch or setting up the painting:
Sketch the swimmer slightly to the right of center and to the upper half of the paper.  Do not make this detailed.  The shape is all that is needed.  The small amount of detail that is painted is done with shades of paint only. 

Drawn very light horizontal lines in the top third of the painting to indicate the location of the shelf at the edge of the pool.    There are three lines:  the top line indicates the top edge of the pool; the middle line is the shallow area or ledge where the swimmer's arms are resting and last line indicates the shelf where the swimmer is sitting below which is the deeper water of the pool.  These areas will be lighter or darker to indicate the depth of the water. 

Mask the swimmer including the hat.  Allow to dry.

Painting the water:
Prepare washes of the following shades of blue:
  • Cerulean Blue
  • Windsor Blue
  • Ultramarine
Wet the painting and paint quickly in the following order:
  1. Paint from bottom to top with a wash of Cerulean Blue with the deepest color at the bottom and moving to mostly white at the top.  Add clean water as you move from bottom to top.
  2. Drop in deep shades of Ultramarine and Windsor Blue in random locations -  the lightest colors at the top with the exception of the deep shadow behind the swimmer.  Use deeper blues around the swimmer for shadows. 
  3. While the paint is still wet, press a scrunched up piece of plastic wrap on top of the wash.  Tape in place and allow to dry. 
It will take longer than usual for the paint to dry covered with the plastic wrap.  Resist the urge to peek at the results as movement of the plastic wrap will disturb the pattern. 

When dry, remove the plastic wrap and see how the plastic wrap created your light reflections in the pool. 

Very light lines are painted across the various ledges of the pool as shown in the finished painting above.

Painting the Swimmer:
The swimmer is very impressionistic and the only parts that are seen are the legs, arms and shoulders (hands and feet are covered by water and are very blurry and indistinct).   Prepare washes of the following colors to paint flesh tones:
  • Burnt Umber
  • Crimson
  • Yellow Ochre
  • Vandyke Brown
  • Paynes Gray
Using a round brush and a very light wash of Burnt Umber paint one body part at a time.  Add darker colors to indicate shape and shadows.    Refer to the painting above to contour the shape of the body using various shades of the above colors.    Allow to dry.

To indicate the water covering parts of the swimmer, add a very light wash of Cerulean Blue across random areas of the arms and legs.  Allow to dry.

Painting the Hat:
Wet the hat with clean water.  Paint the band of the hat with Cerulean Blue and allow to blur slightly.  Add shadows with Paynes Gray and a touch of Crimson as well as Cerulean Blue.  Keep the circular shape of the hat with the way the shadows are painted.  Allow to dry.  If needed, go back and repaint sections of the band to give more emphasis to the shape.  Allow to dry.

Using a wash of dark blue either Ultramarine or Windsor Blue or a combination of both, spatter the water in the pool.  Be certain to cover the swimmer with a piece of paper towel before spattering.
Allow to dry.

Using a utility knife, scratch in some white highlights, if needed. 

Deepen shadows around the swimmer with a wash of the darker blue, if needed.    Do not overwork the water in the pool or the design of the plastic wrap will be removed.

Sign your painting.  Congratulations - it's a wrap!

Happy Painting!

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