Painting the initial watercolor wash for the water and sky

Watercolor wash for sky and water

The first step is to mix the starting colors which will form the basis for painting your initial watercolor wash for the water and sky.

I first put water into my palette roughly estimating how much watercolor paint I will need to mix for each component of  my scene.

I mixed four colors. The first was Cobalt Blue for the sky. The second was Cobalt Blue with a touch of Burnt Sienna to dull the blue a little, this was for the distant water. The third color was French Ultramarine with a touch of Burnt Sienna for the foreground water, I made this mix a little thicker than the Cobalt Blue and Burnt Sienna one. For the final mix I dragged across to one corner of my palette some of the French Ultramarine and Burnt Sienna mix to which I then added a little Cobalt Turquoise (without any more water) – this will be used for the undulations in the water towards the foreground.

Colors for watercolor wash for water and sky
Figure 4: Colors for watercolor wash for water and sky

Once the colors are mixed I am ready to begin. This is a critical part of this watercolor painting, you will not have a lot of time to go back and mix more paint once you start so it is important that you mix enough before you touch your paper.

I painted the sky down to the horizon with the light Cobalt Blue mix. It is the lightest part of the painting apart from the sections left untouched for the creation of sparkle on the water. Notice how I painted the sky right through where the island hillside will be.

While the sky area was still wet I started painting the distant water with the Cobalt Blue and Burnt Sienna mixture of paint. I painted this area with the side of my number 12 round watercolor brush. By using the side of the brush I was able to utilize the texture of the paper to create the sparkle on the water with a dry brush effect. I painted down to the middle distance with this mixture leaving some of the paint to bead at the bottom of my watercolor wash.

Next I picked up the third mixture which was made up of French Ultramarine and a touch of Burnt Sienna. Still painting with the side of my brush (except when painting around the tops of the boats), I continued on down my watercolor paper to the bottom of the sheet. I painted through the boats but made sure to leave their tops mostly untouched white  paper.

Finally for this stage I created the impression of some undulations in the water with quick horizontal strokes of the fourth mixture which contained some added Cobalt Turquoise to the French Ultramarine and Burnt Sienna mix (this was also a little thicker in consistency than the previous mix). I took care to make sure these strokes were larger in the foreground and smaller as they receded towards the middle distance. They should be placed in a random manner, not all equidistant from one another.

Now let this stage dry thoroughly!

Initial watercolor wash, painting the sky and water.
Figure 5: Initial watercolor wash, painting the sky and water.

I later saw that the white area appeared too flat so I added additional dry brush strokes within it to break it up.

Extra texture added to break up flat white area of sparkle on water
Figure 6: Extra texture added to break up flat white area of sparkle on water

Continue to: Painting the island and sail boats with watercolor