A painting tutorial by David McCormack
written by David McCormack
a delightful and popular part of the Lizard Peninsula, is the basis for this tutorial.
The painting is a gouache composition using two photographs that include all the coastal
features that I need.
The colours in my palette are Permanent White, Magenta, Coeruleum,
Ultramarine, Burnt Sienna and Lamp Black.
The brushes used are a selection of 'Prolene Arte' round sable watercolour brushes, sizes 1, 4 and 8.
The painting is 275mm x 205mm in size (a standard size for me), hence a piece of mountboard larger than this ie 325mm x 255mm is used as the support. The 'white' side is used and a 275mm x 205mm rectangular box is drawn on this to be used as a margin.
I draw a pencil sketch of the composition (HB will do) with just
outlines of the features and no shading.
Asparagus Island and Gull Rock on the right hand side of the picture have been fully included as given
in the first photograph. The headland in the distance has also been included and not truncated.
The features have been evenly distributed around the sketch and not 'aligned' in any way.
Note that 'Lion's Rock' in the middle distance has been given the character of a lion!
Note the suggestion of Lizard village in the distance.
The painting is now started with the 'blocking in' of the sea.
The rocks can therefore be painted with sharper character later on. A 'common'
mix of paints is used to give gradual tones and colour to the sea. The sky is
a mixture of Coeruleum and Permanent White. Only a touch of Coeruleum is used,
becoming whiter toward the horizon. This is allowed to dry to give a definitive
horizon. The same mixture is now used for the distant sea with a touch of Ultramarine
to cool it down. White is predominantly used to allow for the reflection of
the sky and a 'burst' of light. Magenta is added (a touch) to the mix to give
a feeling of tranquility and used in the middle sea. Spectrum Yellow (warming
up) and coeruleum are mixed with white and used for the near sea and used with
random brushstrokes to give texture. Small amounts of Ultramarine mixed with
white are applied in shadowy areas. Warming and cooling are used to give distance.
Any extra detail in the sea is applied later.
Next is the distant headland and Lizard village.
I create a fresh mix of Permanent White, Ultramarine and Spectrum
Yellow. This is applied
to the distant headland. More white and less yellow for the distant misting of the headland.
Extra white for the 'suggestion' of houses in Lizard village. More Ultramarine is used for
the 'suggestion' of shadows in Lizard village and the dry stone walls of the fields.
More yellow is used for fields. Burnt Sienna is introduced for the cliffs and rocks.
As for the nearer headland and Lion Rock, less white is used. Burnt Sienna is used
for the back of the lion to distance the attaching headland.
For the islands and cliffs in the middle distance I use less
white and introduce Lamp Black.
Warmer colours are used for the foliage. Ultramarine and white are used for the shadowy side
of the rocks to give reflected light. Burnt Sienna, yellow and plenty of white, are used for the sand.
For the foreground, little or no white is used with the foliage.
White and black are used with various colours
for the rocky outcrops. Spectrum Yellow and Burnt Sienna are predominantly used to warm up the foreground.
Reflections are now applied to the sea, Ultramarine is predominantly
The finishing touches are applied all over the painting. Extra attention is given to the near sea.
The painting is now finished.
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