Recently I painted a watercolour from some trees and farms in the neighborhood from Burgerbrug (North Holland).
It was and still is beautiful weather when I write this , the grass was vibrantly green, so I decided not to paint in my usual greens, but in a lighter version.
I added a shadow in the foreground, not to dark, otherwise I was afraid to spoil the fresh green.
I posted my painting on Twitter Facebook and Flickr, and on the last one I received a critique from a good friend Rosalind, that makes beautiful work herself. We are connected on Flickr for years, so I took it seriously.
The friendly critique were: The grass is all a bit uniform. Perhaps a bit more shadow on the grass to the right of the middle falling diagonally away from the horizon towards the bottom right-hand corner ?
This in my mind I looked at the photo and the watercolour, and indeed the photo shows a bit to uniform green lawn. The watercolour itself have a gradation, and I don’t see this on the photo!
But I always think, if they are right, will it improve my watercolour? In time you develop enough imagination you can actually make colours appear on your paper still in your mind. When you not have developed this, there is a trick, not invented by me, but by Tony van Hasselt, a very good watercolour artist from origin Dutch, but he lives in the USA for a long time and painting for at last 50 years or more! I understand he did followed lessons by the great teacher Edgar Whitney, and this teacher is responsable for a lot of good artist we all know today! Look Whitney up, it is well worth it!
Back to the trick, in Tony’s book The Watercolor FIX-IT Book are tons of advise, a Building Blocks poster and a small sheet of acetate.
The trick is you can lay the acetate over your watercolour, tape it on the sides and add all sorts of shadows and colour, without ruining the underneath original watercolour. Tony used this method in his workshops to help students with their work. He shows what is missing in their watercolour with help of the acetate, and when he removes it, the student can add in her own style and colours make the improvements.
A great solution I may say!
So there we go, I tape the acetate and mix up a few colours, I tried three mixes.The first two I wiped out again, so this is also a advantage, you have more times to see what you do!
The final shadow was a dark green grey, and it seems it destroys the sunny look a bit.So I think I leave it, with in my mind that the watercolour was better in green gradation then the photo! It also became a bit to heavy on the right side.
What do you think?
Best regards Edo
and thanks Tony and Rosalind.
website Tony van Hasselt