Sunday, August 2, 2009

How to paint reflections on water - original watercolor painting trees lake


How to Paint Reflections in Watercolor
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Misconceptions!
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Water is not Blue
Water has no color, it reflects what ever is around it, be it sky, trees, or Star Trek groupies.
The color of the water may also be determined by what is under the water. If the bottom of the
stream is mud, the water may be brown, if it's mossy, it may be green.
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Water reflections are not the same value as the sky
The value and or color of the water is going to be darker than the sky. You may look at a scene and say, "They look the same to me!" But you have to make it darker anyway, for the sake of perspective and maybe to add balance to the painting. Also, just to differentiate the sky from the water
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You can see in the painting above, the darker water in the foreground focuses you eyes back up to the brighter colors, and the center of interest. If the foreground water color was lighter, your eye would go right off the painting.
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Don't Make Waves
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We aren't painting "The Perfect Storm", we are paintings still or nearly still water. We are painting a totally flat surface. The water has to be smooth, the colors need to be blended together and have a smooth appearance.
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Do
Have fresh paint ready, don't use dried up paint, you need color and you need it quick. You should never used dried paint. Every time you add water, you dilute the paint, it ends up being a lot of water and very little paint.



Here We Go
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With a large brush,wet the entire paper in one direction, when you are finished, without adding more water, go over it in the opposite direction. You are just trying to insure that the water is spread evenly


Notice the Sky is lighter than the water
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The Sky is light Cerulean Blue, the water is darker Cerulean Blue, in the foreground it is Ultramarine Blue, an even darker Blue
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In the sky I used Cadium Yellow, in the water Ochre, a darker Yellow, you get the idea here.
The colors that you use, aren't as important, as getting the appearance of a glassy surface.
If it looks like a smooth surface it will look like water.
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I painted the sky in this order
From the horizon upward, first the Cadium Yellow, then on top of it, Cadium Red, which blended and became a soft Orange. The Lighter colors to the darker colors. Then I painted the Light blue Sky with Cerulean, then over top of it with a dark Purple, which was Ultramarine Blue and Alizarine Crimson. Again the lighter color, then the darker color
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Alternate if your Bold
Use multiple brushes. Paint the yellow in the sky. Then immediately, paint the mirror, but darker Ochre in the water. Paint the Lighter Cerulean in the sky, then immediately paint the darker Ultramarine in the water, etc.
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Wet a section at a time if your timid
Wet the Sky, paint it, then wet the water and paint it. You can always re-wet an area if need be.
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Re-Wet the Water
I obviously painted in the trees and land, now back to the reflections. Now, I'm going to paint the trees, reflecting in the water. Normally, I would just re-wet the area below the trees, but I thought the water color was a little to bright. So I mixed Alizarine and Utramarine Blue and made a dark purple. I did a wash starting at the bottom, as I moved upward the wash lightened.
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Paint the Tree Reflections
You don't want the paint to spread too much, when you paint the trees. You want the paper to be just wet enough to diffuse or blur the edges. If it spreads too much you won't be able to get a shape that looks like the shape of the tree.

Add the Tree Trunks
I added some highlights to the trees. I thought the tree reflections needed to be a little darker, so I darkened them a little more, being careful to keep it soft. You want the water to be pretty much dry when you add the tree trunks. You don't want the paint spreading, the reflection of the tree trunk could then be 3 times the size of the actual trunk. Then I added the tree trunks, and immediately added their reflections in the water
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Piece of Cake
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Please add your comment. I hope this was helpful, if it was, please let me know. If something was unclear, let me know that also. Maybe I will expound on it further. Derek


13 comments:

  1. Very interesting and helpful.

    Kae of Kae1Crafts

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  2. I think it's an excellent tutorial, Derek!!

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  3. Very fine lesson! Instructional for newer painters and a great reminder for established painters. How about skys or snow next?

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  4. Very good tutorial and I second the idea about snow next!

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  5. Excellent tutorial! Thank you.

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  6. Great work!!!
    I have never used watercolors because I can't handle the speed with which they dry. But I admire watercolor paintings cos the're so bright and colourful.

    Suggestions:

    #1. I think it would be best to say what medium you were working with. I had to look at the painting on top carefully to know it was watercolour.

    #2. What type of paper did you use?

    #3. How was the paper prepared: was it stretched or not

    #4. It may have been better to put the different stages in different posts (just my thinking!!!)

    Great work anyway :)

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  7. What a beautiful painting! My suggestion would be to break up the text with more pictures. Maybe you could have someone photograph while you worked on it since it's hard to stop working in the middle of a watercolor.

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  8. Great tips and tutorial! I am still a beginner with watercolor so this was very helpful.

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  9. Thank you for your explanations, I will try to paint reflections. Excellent work, by the way. I´m your new admirer from Argentina.

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  10. thanks, u explained it nicely just unknown painter can also make the panting

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  11. I found it helpful.Thank you!!!

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  12. This has been very helpful to a beginner like myself. Thank you. MJ

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Please Comment! I welcome comments, and suggestions for tutorials. Ask me a question? Maybe I'll use it.