Other Artists’ Tips

 Members and artists may contribute their tips and information to make them available to others.

Scroll down for these topics:
* Overcoming Fear of Placing Figures Into Your Paintings – Posted Bob Davies, Art Tutor April, 2016
* Side by side analysis of Quinacridone scarlet and others – Posted Dick Blick Posted September, 2015
*Where to Find Free Reference Photos -Art Tutor- Posted March 7, 2015
*Interference Watercolors – Hilary Page                 – Posted Feb. 18, 2015
*Reverse Water Media Painting- Dan Mondloch  – Posted Feb. 16, 2015

BobDavies's pictureHow to Overcome the Fear of Figures in Your Landscapes

It’s often the case that a figure or two, set in a landscape, can add a touch of humanity to the scene. This poses a worry for a lot of artists, because not only do they think that they need first class figure-drawing or portrait skills to make the people they add to the picture appear authentic, but they’re not sure about where to put them, or how big and how many.  All too often they fear their figures will look like ‘stick-men’ or cartoons and spoil an otherwise decent landscape painting.  So they avoid giving life to their scene with people.
The key to success however is only putting a figure in if it’s absolutely necessary and keeping detail to a minimum.  Make no mistake though, adding figures can lift a landscape painting and give it real meaning. Below are just two recent examples of Art Tutor Members using figures to advantage in their landscapes.

In the first picture, Jagsgirl has created this lovely lakeside scene with some wonderful reflections in the water from the tangle of trees above the bank. However, the whole focus is on the solitary fisherman, in a prime rule of thirds position, enjoying a peaceful afternoon’s activity.  You can almost feel the silence, broken only by the lapping of water against the bank, the whirring of the spool on his rod and the lyrical echo of birds singing through the trees.

Put your hand over the figure though and the scene is nothing, as well as the ripples and reflections have been depicted. The fisherman has no detail – barely more than a silhouette – with just a flash of sun light down the front of him coming from the right and lighting up his rod and line.  In Neil’s depiction of a scene on the Grand Canal in Venice, the main figures are slightly closer and a little more detailed.  What they do, most effectively, is lead the eye from one to the other and then across the canal towards the Santa Maria Della Salute. However, they are still painted relatively simply and note the small figures in front of the church – merely a dark monotone colour and just a few flicks of the brush.

This month we’re going to look at some of the options as to where and when to put in figures and next month, we’ll look at creating believable people very simply in a whole variety of both passive and action poses.  First though, we’re going to look at incorporating figures in the planning process of your painting. In other words, they need to have a good reason to be where they are as the eye is invariably drawn to them.  Including figures is like any other landscape element. Throwing a figure or two in the picture halfway through its creation because ‘it might make it look better’ may work occasionally, but the odds are that they will end up looking exactly what they are – an afterthought to the composition.   Now I’m not talking about making a small adjustment as to the colouring, position or number of figures in a particular part of the picture. Tweaking things as you go along can demonstrate an encouraging flexibility in your approach.

No. It’s introduction of impromptu figures here, there and everywhere which substantially changes the composition or balance of the scene.

That’s when the problems arise !


How Detailed Should the Figure Be ?

Just like complementary colours help to bring harmony to a picture, any figure should be there to complement the landscape scene, not to to completely dominate it. Unless of course, the landscape is merely there as a background element to support an action portrait. In which case we’re not really looking at a landscape, are we ?  Not that it matters. If you really want to put the focus of your picture on an action figure or a single person, you’re probably going to require a little more detail in the features, though probably not as many as in a full blown portrait.  In that case, the many tutorials we have on figures in the Classes and Courses would be more relevant,  perhaps read in conjunction with my blog in January 2016 on backgrounds.

Even if they’re the focal point, as figures often are, you need to show restraint in terms of size or colour in a landscape. And the good news is that you need relatively little detail like facial features, fingers, feet and so on.

Sure there may be a hint of eye socket shadows or representation of hands holding a glass in a cafe scene, for example. And indeed, as the figure(s) may well be the centre of attention the picture, you’ll want some clarity on them – but not too much!

Take this tutorial by Carole Massey in Water-Soluble Coloured Pencil, for instance. The man in the cafe, making some notes or perhaps doing a crossword, is clearly the main subject, with just a hint of a background landscape of trees outside the cafe, behind him.

Yet even here, there is relatively little detail in his face and his hand, holding the pen, is composed of just a few deft pencil strokes and washes.  The story of the picture revolves around that area between his glasses and the table and his concentration on what he’s writing. Is it a crossword ? A letter? Maybe he’s one of our tutors preparing some notes for a forthcoming video tutorial  – or maybe it’s a piece of music ?

Carole has grabbed your attention in that area, allowing the viewer to complete the story in their own mind, yet there’s comparatively little detail in the hands or the face, which is encouraging  if we look at much smaller figures suitably arranged in a landscape.

Factors to Consider

What I’m trying to do is to get you to think about and understand in your own mind what you want to produce before you pick up the brush or pencil to add humans in a landscape. It’s all part of the basic planning and thinking things through to a degree will help you so much in clearing your mind when you come to create your image.

If you think about even a moderately sized picture, say 16” x 12” (40cm x 30cm), any middle distance figures are going to be no bigger than 2” inches (5cm) tall – probably less – so there isn’t much scope for detail, no matter if they’re in watercolour, acrylics, CP’s pastel or any other media.

Look at this sparkling beach scene in acrylics by Becky Samuelson, which is about 14” x 10” (35cm x 25cm). The nearest figures on the right are only about 1” (2.5cm) tall, with the more distant ones less than half of that size. Yet they clearly read as figures and the scene would be so much poorer without them, particularly that flash of red on the lady’s skirt.

In general, I’d say there are three main factors to consider before installing any figures in a picture:
Relevance to the Scene


2. Size, Colour and Activity

1. Relevance

First things first! Ask yourself if the figure is going to help the picture. If not leave it out.

Now this may seem odd advice when we’re talking about putting figures into a picture. However, looking at the overall objective, it’s to achieve a great painting. And if that means leaving stuff out to improve things – including figures – then so be it.

You’ll have doubtless heard or read either myself or the other tutors talking about about keeping things simple whenever possible and only putting something in a picture if it’s going to improve it. Well, that’s as true of figures as it is of a mountain range or a tree.

In other words, first of all decide if or why you need the figure. And that’s where the relevance comes in. Is it going to enhance the scene or not ? There’s no magic technique to this other than experience and practice. If you see a figure in someone else’s picture, hold your hand over the figure(s) to block it out and ask yourself if the picture gains or loses anything.

Gradually, you’ll develop a sense of what looks better in certain situations which will help you in your own creations.

Look at this lovely sunny watercolour by Geoff Kersey, “Bike and Bourganvilla”. We know there’s someone around somewhere, from the parked bicycle. But the lack of a figure actually adds to the story. Where is the owner of the bike? Do they live at the house, or is it a shop and they’re inside buying the daily bread?


Or, look a little more closely and you’ll see it’s a ladies bike, so is it a teenage girl paying a visit to her grandma and granddad? Or a mother calling to chat with her best friend ?Your mind can make up whatever story attracts you to the scene and that’s part of the beauty of the picture. But if a figure was visible in this case, the painting would lose much of its appeal and mystery.

In complete contrast, here’s another of Geoff’s scenes – Vernazza, one of the beautiful five Cinque Terre fishing villages in Italy, now a World Heritage site. It’s a hugely popular place to visit and the bevy of holidaymakers certainly add colour and movement to its visual appeal.  Except that in this first picture I’ve digitally removed any trace of figures from the painting.

It’s still a great scene, but lacks the humanity of even a single soul.
However, enjoy Geoff’s un-retouched picture with the fisherman tending his boat in the foreground and the tourists’ outlines breaking up that dark archway and the quayside.Note how the reflections in the water also provide further colourful interest. A few more flicks of paint suggest many more visitors in the background, beneath the gaily coloured parasols and awnings.

See how the scene suddenly comes alive with movement and purpose. No longer an architectural still life but a depiction of Vernazza in all its attractive setting, welcoming visitors to its sunlit streets and lovely little harbour. Compare the two versions. The village would look empty without humanity and animation.Your inspiration for a landscape scene might be a farmer’s wife feeding chickens outside the farmhouse in the foreground. Here the building could be the main centre of interest, with the lady, perhaps near the doorway, emphasising it as the focal point.  Or it could be a group of two or three people in a cafe scene in an attractive exterior setting. In that case, you’d need to be thinking about almost building the landscape scene around the group of figures.

Look at this colourful watercolour sketch by Joanne Boon-Thomas. Is this a townscape or are the buildings merely a backdrop to frame the foreground figures? Clearly, the focus is on those two foreground ladies as they move purposefully towards a day’s shopping, with their eyes already drawn to the clothes in the window on the left…

Now you can argue whether this is a townscape with figures, or a picture about ladies going shopping being placed in a suitable environment. It doesn’t matter of course, as long as you’re clear about what you’re trying to create.And that’s the common feature of those three or four examples.  Relevance and purpose. Do you need a figure ? If you do, is it to enhance the scene or to become the focal point.

And naturally, the type of figure or pose you use will need to be appropriate to the picture. You wouldn’t normally have a group of men in shirts and ties having a stand-up business meeting on a beach, would you ? No. It would probably be a family group in swimwear, or at least lightweight casual dress, soaking up the sunshine or splashing about in the water.  Or, if it was a blustery, cloudy day on the beach where you wanted to focus on the clouds scudding across the sky, a couple of small figures, well-wrapped up and leaning into the wind, will really enhance the atmosphere you want to create.

2. Position

The position of the figures is important, not only to draw the eye towards a feature but also to be the focal point of the story.  In John Constable’s oil painting depicting Flatford Mill and the River Stour in Eastern England, as it was in his day, see how the grouping of several ‘action’ figures provides the main focal point.  There is probably more detail in the foreground figures than you would normally see in a landscape, as the picture, usually on display at Tate Britain in London, is well over 4 feet x 3 feet (almost 1600mm x 1400mm), without its frame.

The young boy on the horse occupies almost the perfect ‘rule of thirds’ position which I’ve overlaid as a yellow grid. The little flash of red band across the horse’s head adds further emphasis as the focal point. Then there is further interest moving us towards the barge on the left via the boy detaching the rope from the horse.

On that part of the River Stour barges were hauled by horse and the scene shows the point where it had to be unhitched and the craft poled by the bargee under Flatford Bridge.  Normally, I’d say that the boatman’s position might be a little too close to the edge of the picture, especially as his angled posture really suggests he’s putting everything into  manoeuvring the barge.  However, it’s the way he is manipulating his barge pole that leads us along its line from the boys and the horse towards him and then back across the furthest barge, via two more figures, to the opposite bank gently leading the eye to the two boys fishing in the middle distance. The path then pulls the viewer along until another figure or two is reached on the lock gates in the distance, beyond which we take in Flatford Mill itself.  Note how the whole story is told through almost all the figures occupying the bottom left portion of the scene, with just a single distant fisherman trooping out of the scene in the right hand middle distance.

And just so you can enjoy the full beauty of Constable’s work, here’s the picture with the grid removed….

In a much simpler beach-scape (is there such a word – well, there is now) – of Zanzibar, note how Frank Halliday has expertly placed several basic figures in and around the boat, giving an air of honest endeavour.

However, look closely and most of them are simply angled this way and that without actually seeming to be doing anything too specific, but Frank’s skill with the brush has suggested otherwise, lending purposeful activity to the whole scene.

Now look at this pastel piece of the Santa Maria Della Salute in Venice by Robert Dutton. The eye is drawn immediately to the colourful figures on the right, so typical of the always busy Venetian waterfront.  The figures placed where they are give an air of restrained activity as people meander past the stalls and take in the iconic scene across the Grand Canal.   And it’s this placement of the warm, brightly-coloured figures which, through their gaze, draws the viewer’s eye back across the picture towards the boats and the church.


However, note the three silhouetted figures on the jetty in the middle distance. What are they doing you might ask – sight-seeing maybe, or perhaps looking at timetables for the next water-bus or water taxi?  Whatever it is, although only painted in a dark monochrome tone, they act as a valuable temporary stop on the journey across the picture, encouraging the viewer to pause for a moment and take in the boats, the jetty and the colours in the foreground water, before moving on to the Santa Maria della Salute itself.

3. Size, Colour & Activity

In Frank Halliday’s watercolour of ancient Egyptian landmarks, see how the tiny figures immediately give scale to the mass of the Sphinx and the attendant Pyramids. None of them are very specific. They can’t be – probably most are no more than 1/4” to 1/2” (6mm – 12mm) tall. No details are necessary or possible but the flicks of paint in the background are even smaller, yet read as more people only further away.

In James Willis’s vibrant street scene, the figures are much bigger, closer to the viewer and there’s lots of them in various talking  poses. Varying the pose of figures is good as it adds further interest to the picture. You don’t want them all at the same regimented angle or stance, like a collection of toy soldiers.  All of the figures are relatively large in relation to the total area of the painting, which brings even the rearmost ones forward into a grouping about thirty yards or metres down the street.  The broken mauve strokes of random brushwork beyond them implies that more figures are further away, but James has avoided putting them in at all, leaving them to be imagined by the viewer – another example of the fine art of suggestion !

However, James has included a figure of a lady on her own, walking towards the viewer. See how the pink dress stands out compared to the relatively sombre tones of the mostly blues, browns and greys of the other people. And as with the Flatford Mill example, check out how he’s located the top half of her body into the perfect rule of thirds position….  Note also that the others are virtually all in static groups appearing to be chatting. The fact that she’s alone, in brighter clothing and on the move sets her apart from the rest.

Positioning figures can also give a clue to the lie of the land in a landscape scene. This  quick cameo sketch for the Acrylic Secrets e-book I produced a little while back shows how the brow of a hill can be suggested by just adding the tops of two figures.

Immediately we have animation via the walking figures, even though we can’t see their legs. However, that’s also the clue that the ground falls away on the other side and the contours take a downward course.  Even in a most basic example such as this, the type and position of the figures adds a little bit of story to the viewer about a couple taking a walk together on a country path that rises uphill towards the viewer.

Now It’s Your Turn…

Producing little thumbnail sketches of various ideas will really help. However, you don’t have to produce numerous pencil sketches of alternative landscapes with different figures in various positions in the picture…

You can have a lot of fun trying out  options by just drawing a very simple ‘carrot’ figure like the ones below, on a small scrap piece of acetate.

A little acrylic paint works well or even a spirit-based marker. Any piece a couple of inches (5cm) or so square, cut from scrap packaging will do. In fact you could quickly produce several at different sizes or bring two or three together to form a small group of people. By moving them around on a reference photo or preparatory sketch, you can work out what works best.

And you don’t even need bits of acetate if you prefer to use your computer. Try this fun little exercise for yourself:


  • Download the photos of the figures below to your computer. They’re all separate png. files and all have a transparent background.
  • Then download the landscape photos below them. Or you can select any landscape photo of your own.
  • Open up MS Word (or similar) and drag a landscape photo into the document (stretch the photo out to fill the page).
  • Now drag one or more of the figures into the same MS Word document and place them on top of the landscape photo. You might have to play about with the ‘text wrapping’ or ‘alignment’ settings for each image so that the can overlap each other without the image jumping around the page.
  • Resize the figures, make them taller, thinner, shorter, fatter, flip them to face the other way.

This can actually give you hours of fun and keep you away from painting for weeks if you let it. However, the idea is that you can ‘see’ much easier both the size and position of your chosen figure, or decide whether a single figure or group works better, before you commit to painting anything.

This little exercise will also help you to practice moving figures around in your landscapes, seascapes or cityscapes and as we know, practice is the best tutor!


Part 2 Coming Soon

Next month, I’ll show you some simple ways of creating your own figures so you’ll be able to confidently include them at will in your landscape paintings, at any size that suits your picture – but remember, only in the right place and if they’re really needed !!!

Cheers for now,


– See more at: https://www.arttutor.com/blog/201603/how-overcome-fear-figures-your-landscapes?mc_cid=f1b3931e5e&mc_eid=b454d876b7#sthash.0R31B1Hv.dpuf


Side by side analysis of Quinacridone Burnt Scarlet

Color Comparison | Side-by-Side Watercolor | Quinacridone Burnt Scarlet
Transparent Pyrrol Orange – This clear, dark, red-leaning orange thins into perfectly smooth washes. The color is vivid and warm, lovely used on its own, and great in mixes. Try it with granulating greens or blues to create exquisite earth colors and shadow-grays that are both textural and warm.

Minnesota Pipestone Genuine – American Pipestone is the stone that unified our people in a time of transition. This sacred mineral was the stone of choice for the legendary Sioux peace pipes. Traveling through Pipestone County, Minnesota, one can almost hear the murmurs of the past. The warm, muted tones of the pipestone foster an introspective creative flow.
Our Minnesota Pipestone is created from pipestone of exactly the same shade as the stone that the Plains Indians revered and reserved for the making of their pipes. Milled in small batches, it honors history and lives up to contemporary expectations. A warm, soft, earthy pink, Minnesota Pipestone is semi-opaque and granulates beautifully in washes. It is as permanent as the rock from which it is made. The combination of our historic pipestone with modern synthetics is spellbinding.

Italian Venetian Red – Made from pigment mined and mixed in Italy, Italian Venetian Red is redder than most and smolders with a warm intensity. An earthy red-brown with opaque, sedimentary properties, Venetian Red is great for fall paintings and applications similar to Indian Red. Drop Venetian Red into a wet Lunar Earth wash for exciting results. Venetian Red is non-staining, lifts with some difficulty when dry, but leaves a special warm afterglow when blotted at the damp state.

Quinacridone Burnt Orange – Add to French Ultramarine and create dramatic sky washes with a gray-blue mix that renders a full value scale.
Use Quinacridone Burnt Orange to modify Sap Green in landscapes to achieve rich, mossy greens that coordinate land with sky. Highly durable and extremely transparent, all the Quinacridone colors excel in vivid clarity and intensity.

Quinacridone Burnt Scarlet – A gorgeous rich red-brown which like all Quinacridones, is highly durable and extremely transparent with vivid clarity and intensity. Quinacridone Burnt Scarlet can lighten, brighten and eliminate mud browns in all your paintings. Use with Quinacridone Coral for branch and blossom paintings.Try using Quinacridone Burnt Scarlet in landscapes and you’ll find it especially beautiful when used for painting Fall colors.

Perylene Maroon – In the mid-yellow to red zone of the color wheel is this exciting find, Perylene Maroon is a semi-transparent super staining dark red-brown.
Perylene Maroon allows glowing washes that can emanate from a saturated source emerging into sunlight patches. As with other staining pigments, create organic textures with salt application and lift pigment for highlights. Its semi-transparency makes Perylene Maroon special for browns.

Sedona Genuine – For millennia, Sedona has ignited the imagination of every creative spirit fortunate enough to feel its dazzle. Tufts of sagebrush punctuate the ancient sea of sand in quiet counterpoint to the soaring red rock sentinels. With color purity cast from a desert crucible, red spires burst on a field of pure cerulean sky, humbling the observer in absolute wonder. This ethereal red connects us to the people who were first mesmerized by the region 11,000 years ago.
After our latest trip to the Southwest, we knew we had to create paint from Sedona’s rocks. Made with authentic rock from the Arizona desert, this timeless color-lightfast, richly pigmented and absolutely permanent-ties your work to the work of countless generations of southwestern artisans in a way that demands to be experienced. We went straight to the source for our newest, yet oldest, mineral pigment. We can now share the enchantment of the stone with you. Capture the awe, the intensity and the magic of Sedona.

Deep Scarlet – At long last there exists a deep reddish-brown that reacts wonderfully to salt! The color of red velvet and rose petals, this non-granulating russet is perfect for smooth and rich washes. An earthy undertone gives Deep Scarlet a natural look with a cherry red color perfect for dappling garden or autumn landscapes. This single pigment watercolor stays clean in mixtures and looks wonderfully complex used alone.


Posted: March 7, 2015 – Where to Find Free Reference Photos ( Art Tutor)

As noted on the Art Tutor Website here are 4 “Permission Granted Photo” sites that have photos free to use as reference material for your paintings.
Flickr’s Creative Commons Program – www.flickr.com/creativecommons   (Click on website to View)
Literally millions of photos to search.  Click on the link then chose the top category called “Attribution License”.  The only criteria is that you give credit to the Flickr user when you display/sell your art.  Avoid the “no Derivs” categories because you can only use the photo as is and cannot make art from it.

Morgue Filemorguefile.com  (Click on the website to view)
Lots of high quality stunning images here.  Make sure you stick to the MorgueFile tab and “Free Photos” when you do a search.

Paintng.About.compainting.about.com (Click on the website to view)
Lots of categories on this page.  Scroll to the bottom of the page and click “load more” as it’s easy to  miss many of them.

Public Domain Photos www.publicdomainpictures.net (Click on the website to view)
Lots of images sorted into logical categories.


Posted: February 18, 2015
Hilary Page shows how to use Interference Watercolors(Daniel Smith) to best effect
Interference watercolors are intriguing additions to our palettes. They add luster to a glossy surface, a shimmer to the ocean, or a colorful sparkle to the delicate petals of a flower. They also give an unmatched sense of depth. They have to be viewed at an angle for these attributes to show. When viewed straight on they produce a muted, pastel look. Artists are faced with a challenge when using them since the paintings must work both ways.My color chart painted in duplicate and photographed at an angle shows the paints with (left) and without (right) the interference effects.Like the shimmer of a peacock’s feather, interference paints derive their sparkle through light wave interference caused by a special surface. The pigment’s surface consists of transparent mica platelets covered with a highly refractive metal oxide.Interference paints are lightfast, tarnish-proof, lift readily and occur in two forms: Titanium dioxide interference paints (see 2D, 3D and 4D on the chart) are transparent and delicately colored lilac, red, green, blue, yellow-gold and silver. The colors occur according to the precise thickness of the titanium dioxide. Only Daniel Smith offers these colors in watercolor. The silver titanium dioxide interference paint is transparent but can be opaque if applied heavily (1D). Red and yellow iron oxide interference paints are opaque (1A, 1B, 1C, 1D). They have a constant color and they simulate a copper, gold or metallic luster.See larger imageBoth forms can be applied in two ways: mixed or overlaid. When “mixed” with other paints they give a subtle sheen. The mixed applications are indicated on the chart by dots of the paints used at the bottom of the sample (2B,3B,4B). The iron oxide colored paints form textured washes when mixed on the palette with another paint and a lot of water (1C), or “charged” into a wet on wet wash on the paper (1A, 1B). When applied “overlaid” the interference paints are laid on top of a regular paint of either the same (2C, 3C, 4C) or a different color (3A) that has already dried. When applied heavily they give a dramatic gleam as in “Shells” (11″X15″). The overlaid applications are indicated by two bars of paint placed below the sample in the order applied.After making a pencil drawing of the subject I wet the paper (140 lb. rough) on both sides and loosely drop in the paints, charging Phthalo Blue GS with Iridescent Russet for much of the overall wash to create texture. I then drop in Quinacridone Magenta, Quinacridone Violet and Quinacridone Gold. When partially dry I lift out paint with a damp sable brush to lighten some shells.See larger imageWhen dry, I define the major shapes with dark color. This process is repeated, drying between each application. I scrutinize the painting before a mirror to help me clarify the broad underlying shapes. For the shells and background colors, I mix Interference Lilac, and Interference Blue in with the regular paints.When completely dry I overlay Interference Silver and a little Iridescent Gold to add a dramatic sparkle and give the painting a three dimensional effect.DANIEL SMITH Interference Watercolors List:

Posted February 2015 – Dan Mondloch : Reverse Water Media Painting
Dan Mondloch –  “Visit www.danmondloch.com  or https://www.facebook.com/pages/Dan-Mondlochs-Watercolors for more about me.”
Workshop Experience:   In this workshop the goal will be to combine fluid acrylics, watercolor, and gouache in what might feel like a reverse painting approach. Any subject matter will work for this process, and you will want to bring many reference photos or sketches to work from. My suggestion is to bring subject matter that is Simple, Easy and Familiar to paint from. This is important – and will allow you to focus on this new painting process versus focusing on trying to figure out how to paint something new. Bring whatever size paper you prefer to work on; I would recommend a quarter      sheet minimum as the goal of this workshop is to explore the new materials and loosen up a little. I will be demonstrating a landscape approach on Wednesday and a more urban scene on Thursday. There will be a half hour break for lunch. You might want to consider bringing a lunch to save time. It would be helpful if a few participants brought hairdryers to speed up dry time between the initial wash and clear coat steps.
1. Undercoating (Fluid Acrylic Wash) is a wet into wet wash that unifies the painting, provides sparkling light
to show through in the finished piece, and since acrylic cures become permanent, it allows for lifting and
re-working of the watercolor and gouache applied over the top. What color should you use? Whatever
color you want to “shine” through in little bits, and whatever color you want to lift down to. Darker
undercoatings may require heavier use of gouache. Dry before next step.
2.Isolation coat (3 parts water: 1 part Golden Soft Gel Gloss) is a clear wash over the top of the undercoating
that enhances the slickness of the paper, allowing for more lifting and re-working abilities with watercolor and
gouache. Do a lift test to check slickness of surface – this is done by applying a small swatch of dark color,
drying it, and using clean water and a brush to see if you can lift it cleanly. If the lift test fails, apply an isolation
coat. Dry before next step
3. Apply watercolor next to build up color and values. With watercolor you build from light to dark. Use
watercolor first to apply dark colors; because if you put gouache down first, it will be harder to apply darker
colors without them mixing with the gouache and becoming muddy. Watercolor is generally used for “positive”
4.  Apply gouache to retrieve lighter values in your painting. Gouache can be mixed with regular watercolors to
create colored gouache. It is important to think of gouache as being both a translucent and opaque paint.
Opaque means you can completely cover up the color underneath, while translucent means you can partially
cover up the color underneath. A successful painting using this approach will have a good balance of opaque,
translucent, and transparent applications. Gouache works particularly well when doing “negative” painting.

Materials  – It is expected that artists already have the basic watercolor painting materials. You may want to bring additional tubes of watercolor paint (heaver paint applications will be encouraged J). Additional materials needed include fluid acrylics, clear fluid acrylic, and white gouache.  I use Golden brand fluid acrylics and Da Vinci white gouache, although other brands will probably work just fine.
*  Here are some links for Golden Fluid Acrylics:

*  Here are some links to several white gouaches:  http://www.dickblick.com/items/00823-1024/ http://www.dickblick.com/items/00815-1023/ http://www.dickblick.com/items/00801-1173/

Standard Watercolor Materials – Use Whatever materials you normally use for completing a watercolor painting. You do not need to use the specific colors, paper, or any other materials listed below. It’s a reference for those who don’t have materials. I recommend purchasing high quality materials, but if you are a beginner, or even if you have some experience, please feel free to buy products that fit your budget. Cheap Joe’s Art Supplies will have everything you need and also Paint: I prefer tube paints over “pan” cake-style paints. Brand: American Journey Watercolors (May be purchased from Cheap Joe’s Art Supplies: http://www.cheapjoes.com/)
Colors I use:
Thalo Blue
Ultramarine Blue
Cerulean Blue
Payne’s Gray
Permanent Rose
Cadmium Red
Cadmium Orange
Cadmium Yellow Medium
Raw Sienna
Lemon Yellow
Spring Green
Olive Green
Thalo Green
Other Materials:
Four or more sheets approximately 11″ x 14″ Watercolor Paper. I prefer Arches or Killimanjaro brand Cold Pressed.
1″ flat brush Selection of round brushes (various sizes) “Rigger” type detail brush (long hairs like a round brush, but very thin)
Masking Tape
2 Water containers (cool whip or butter containers work well)
Plastic plate or palette for mixing
Spray bottle or misting bottle
Towel you can get dirty
Masking Fluid
2b pencil, eraser (any kind – kneaded erasers work well because they don’t damage the watercolor paper)
Photographs or sketches to work from.

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