A lynx - painted with HORADAM® AQUARELL by Laura Stahlmann

In this blog, watercolour artist Laura Stahlmann shows how she combines normal and supergranulating HORADAM® AQUARELL watercolours and finishes them with fine highlights of white gouache. The resulting lynx makes a beautiful motif that, described in

detail, inspires you to paint.

How to paint:
What a terrific pattern - this beautiful lynx simply has to be painted! The bright colours, textured background and piercing gaze just invite you to start painting. The wonderful photo is by Glen Hooper via unsplash.com. For this painting, I combined the standard range of HORADAM® AQUARELL watercolours with some of the supergranulating colours, as they were a perfect colour match, and worked great for the texture of the background. 


You will need:

  • Colours: Schmincke HORADAM® AQUARELL watercolours in pans or tubes: 660 raw Sienna, 217 Quinacridone gold hue, 352 magenta, 668 burnt umber, 783 Payne´s grey, 509 cobalt turquoise, 943 forest blue, 964 glacier brown, 961 glacier blue, 965 glacier black 
  • Schmincke Designers´ Gouache: opaque white (25199)
  • Schmincke masking fluid in a jar liquid frisket, coloured (50 303) or as a pen masking fluid, coloured (50 731)
  • Paper: I paint on satin cotton paper (LANA lanaquarelle hot pressed). It is very smooth and therefore perfect for very thin lines and tiny details. A cold-pressed paper is of course also fine, depending on your preference!
  • Brushes: Round brushes (natural or synthetic hair), approx. sizes 1, 4, 8, 12 (for thin hair to larger washes) e.g. from daVinci
  • Others: A photo as a template, pencil, eraser, waterproof fineliner


Step 1 - Drawing
This painting is not very easy, but it's worth the effort! You can download the template from unsplash.com - here is the link to download your template: https://unsplash.com/photos/8LWtpfhGP4U
Take your time with the preliminary drawing. If it helps, create a grid on the template and transfer it to your sheet. This way you can transfer the lines field by field and get the proportions right more easily. The head is the hardest part, of course, but the rest of the body is very easy.


Step 2 - Ink and masking fluid
Use a waterproof fineliner or fountain pen to trace the drawing next. Not all the hair has to be drawn already; even after having painted the layers of colour, hair can still be added here and there where necessary. Then we carefully erase the preliminary drawing. Now masking fluid is applied to the lightest, white areas to protect them from colour: Muzzle, eyes, chest and belly. In the process, we already work out individual hairs.


Step 3 - Quinachridone gold hue / raw Sienna (brush size 12)
As a first step I wet the paper, - but only in the area where the colour is to be applied: the body of the lynx and the bottom. The areas that are very bright and very detailed, such as the eyes or the white snout, are left out. Then, without thinking too much, the colour is applied over a large area: raw Sienna in the upper part (back, face, hind leg), and a mixture of Payne´s grey and burnt umber in the front and lower part, which is a bit shadier. In the bottom area I also dabbed glacier brown into the wet paint to create nice granulating textures.


Step 4 - Quinachridongold hue / raw Siena
In the next step, the fur should get a more intense gold colouring. We paint another layer with Quinachridone gold hue and raw Sienna on top of the first one, in the areas that shine particularly golden (i.e. back, face, hind leg). As long as the colour is still wet, some areas can be darkened with Payne´s grey. We let the layers dry.

Step 5 - Forest blue / glacier blue / cobalt turquoise / glacier black (brush size approx. 12)
We use these watercolours to create the blue-turquoise background in the upper part. Of course, other shades of blue and green can be used, - these are the ones I used; Forest blue is the main colour here. We wet the background and take care to create an accurate edge to the back and the rest of the fur! Then we let the paint run loosely into the wet area until the desired colouring is achieved. Then we let it dry again so that we don't smudge the wet area in the next step!


Step 6 - Burnt Umber / raw Sienna / Payne´s grey (brush size approx. 6-8)
Let's continue with the fur: with burnt Umber, raw Sienna and Payne´s grey we apply another, now more detailed layer. We can already work out some spots as dots, but don't get too detailed yet. We use a mixture of burnt Umber and Payne´s grey for the shadowd areas (hind leg, neck), raw Sienna and burnt Umber for the lighter areas (head, back).


Step 7 - Burnt Umber / Payne´s grey/ glacier black
Now we can create more dark areas: Burnt Umber and Payne´s grey for the shadowy areas on the chest and neck; Payne´s grey and glacier black we use for the shadows beneath the animal on the ground. Watercolour paintings depend on light effects - so a dark subject is not so easy to paint. But some strong contrasts make the painting come alive! We let the paint dry completely, because.... ... now let's say goodbye to the masking fluid. We carefully rub off the layer as soon as the paint has dried. We work on the freshly rubbed free areas, otherwise they will look very unnatural: we add small hairs and shadows with a light grey or beige (Brush size approx. 2-4)! After that we can take care of further details: Spread the dots on the fur with burnt Umber and Payne´s grey, some smaller fur strokes and dark details on the face and of course the pointed ears (with intense Payne´s grey)!


Step 8 - White gouache
Now we come to my favourite part, because the smallest details often bring the best effects and are a lot of fun: Finally the white gouache comes into play! Draw very thin white hairs with a thin brush (brush size about 1-2), like in the photo - but especially on the belly, chest and face!


Step 9 - Raw Sienna / burnt Umber / forest blue / Payne´s grey
Now we can continue working on the nose: We prime the nose with magenta and raw Sienna. The edges and the nostrils are painted dark with Payne´s grey. And finally we breathe life into the lynx by painting the eyes! We use raw Sienna and burnt Umber for two to three golden layers. A little dab of blue on the pupil works wonders. We also make sure to leave a white highlight, or supplement it later with white gouache. Finally, we complete the outline and pupil with Payne´s grey and voilà - we say hello, little lynx!
I hope you enjoyed it!