Wednesday, December 7, 2016

How to Paint an Old Brick Wall

Old Tredegar
9" x 12"
Watercolor painting

The painting above is an example of an old brick structure painted using watercolor.  My reference material for this painting was a photo of an old abandoned foundry located on Belle Island in Richmond, VA on the James River.  The brick structure was crumbling with vines and trees growing around and inside the structure. 
Supplies Needed:
Watercolor paper (I used Arches 140 lb. paper – 9” x 12” size)
Watercolor board
Masking tape to anchor paper
Round brush – your choice of size
Flat brush – 1/8” or ¼ “ in size
  • Burnt Umber
  • Yellow Ochre
  • Sepia
  • Payne’s Gray
  • Cadmium Red Pale (Light)
  • Crimson
  • Grumbacher Red
  • VanDyke Brown
  • Sap Green
  • Hunter Green
  • Ultramarine Blue
  • Cerulean Blue
  • White
Painting Instructions:
Lightly sketch your painting with very little detail.    Draw in the large tree trunks; however, the branches will not need to be sketched in with a pencil.  These can be painted with your brush after the foliage is in place. 
Check your perspective.  If you are happy with your perspective, use a ruler and a pencil to draw lines for the bricks.  

Note: The lines are not all parallel to the top and bottom of your paper, but will be angled to an “invisible” point to the right of your painting.  If you need to do so, align your ruler to your vanishing point in the distance on the right with a masking tape “X”  and place your ruler on that “X” as you lightly draw your pencil lines for your bricks. 
Background Foliage, Foreground and Sky:
It is easier to work from top to bottom on a painting to prevent your arm/sleeve from dragging across your wet work when working from bottom to top.
Sky and Trees:
Using Cerulean Blue paint the sky working wet on wet from top to bottom.  While the sky is still wet, drop in Sap Green for the trees.  Allow to dry.  Foliage will be added later in the painting when the tree trunks and branches are added.
Background Foliage:
This is the foliage that can be seen behind the arched opening in the brick wall.
Moving from top to bottom working wet on wet, paint the background with a light yellow green and then drop deeper shades of Sap Green in various areas for the tree foliage.  While this is still set, drop in a deeper shade of green mixed from Sap Green and Ultramarine Blue.  Allow to dry.  Again, additional foliage, branches, trunks and limbs will be added later.
Foreground and Foliage on Right:
Wet the area for the greenery on the lower right.  Drop in various shades of green:  Sap Green, Sap Green mixed with  Yellow Ochre and Sap Green mixes with Ultramarine Blue.  Allow to dry.

Sidewalk area:
Wet this area with clean water and paint in this area with Payne's Gray and green.  Deepen this near the greenery.  Leave some of this area unpainted.  While still wet drop in some  spatter of Sepia and Payne's Gray for pebbles. 
Now for the fun part – painting the brick wall!
Brick Wall:
Apply wet on wet a light base of yellow ochre on all the brick area.  Allow to dry.  Prepare several colors of paint for your brick.  Use different shades of red, orange, gray, etc.  Using your flat brush, paint the brick wet on dry using the pencil lines you drew in previously as your guide.  Vary the color of the bricks that are placed side by side and alternate your pattern so that no 2 edges are lined up.    This can be time consuming; however, it does not have to be perfect.  Remember this brick wall is part of a building which has fallen to ruin.  There are sections of the arched entry where bricks are missing.  Allow the bricks to dry. 
Prepare a light wash to Payne's Gray, Sepia,  Yellow Ochre and Sap Green.  Using the photo as a guide, paint the wash over the bricks deepening the wash in some locations and keeping it light in others.  Drop in green to indicate the moss growing on the brick in some locations.  Allow to dry. 
The brick had various locations with white brick from paint, etc. over the years.  This can be achieved by using one of two methods.
  1. Use a small piece of sandpaper and sand off the paint in various areas to expose the white paper, or
  2. Use Chinese White Watercolor paint and a dry flat brush to add areas of white.

I used white paint in this painting. 
Details:  Adding foliage and tree trucks and limbs
Using the previous mix of greens (light and dark) and a small sponge, add the foliage in the top section of the painting as well as through the archway.  Also, drop in some of the green onto the brick wall to indicate where greenery is growing over the top and up from the greenery near the walkway.  A brush can also be used if you prefer to add the greenery.
Using a round brush, paint in the tree limbs and tree trunk using VanDyke Brown and Sepia.  Refer to the photo above for placement. 
View your painting to see if any additional details need to be added in the painting.  When you are satisfied, sign you name.

Happy Painting!

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