Practice makes perfect
This weeks drawing board centres on an A3 size inked drawing of an ironwork spiral staircase surrounded by tropical vegetation in a glasshouse, part of my current Hot House Palms theme of artworks and designs.
For this type of artwork I like to undertake quite a bit of preparation work practising colours and techniques, helping me to get to know the subject matter in painterly terms – this is where I work things such as what brush strokes to use for different parts of the picture, where to lay washes and where to keep the paper clear of paint for highlights.
Top row: Fern leaf watercolour for a future repeat pattern design. Photocopy of my line drawing for a watercolour, I use this to practice colour schemes before taking the plunge on the main piece of watercolour artwork. Sketchbook – leaves using Inktense pencils. Watercolour of philodendron leaf, mounted and wrapped and ready for sale!
Middle row: Sketchbook – tropical leaf watercolour sketches, clipped to this is a small watercolour work up for the main picture using masking fluid to protect the white parts of the paper from the initial watercolour washes. Another leaf sketch prep for main picture, using Inktense pencil on watercolour paper. My hard cover sketchbook open at agave plant study for reference.
Bottom row: More preparation watercolour sketches for main picture. A4 photocopy of main inked picture with watercolour washes, I’ve used this to work out colour schemes and tonal balances for the main image. Watercolour is an unforgiving yet very rewarding medium, colours can only be added not taken away, so I always like to have a practice before I start laying down colour on the final work.
Main picture with design inked in, stretched onto a board and ready for watercolour washes. My aim is to create a decorative piece somewhere between realism and pattern design. I used Uni Pin waterproof ink pens in 3 different nib thicknesses. Square card with colour swatches that I will use in the picture, these days I try to use a limited colour palette in a picture to maintain a cohesive look; this one will be mainly greens, windsor blue and cadmium yellow with a touch of dioxazine purple. Far right my Prima tropicals watercolour set and Cotman watercolours by Winsor & Newton,