Material studies with watercolours - by David Poxon

An old wooden door, metal hasp, and 2 locks can provide a few hours of painting pleasure. Use a multi layering system to find great tonal value, and in this demonstration you will find some simple ways to create the illusion of texture.

You will need:

  • HORADAM® AQUARELL watercolours: Raw Sienna 660, burnt Sienna 653, Rose Madder 356, Cerulean blue 481, Phthalo blue 484, Alizarin Crimson 357 and burnt Umber 668
  • Mediums: Masking fluid liquid frisket, coloured 50 303 or drawing gum, coloured 50 731
  • Paper: e.g. Bockingford 425 g/m2 or other watercolour paper
  • Brushes: e.g. SAA 2cmflat synthetic, SAA Rigger synthetic, SAA 1cm flat, Rosemary Bristle brush
  • Others: 2B pencil and ruler


Step 1

The drawing
With a 2B pencil and ruler draw the subject using only lines. The idea is to make a simple scaffolding of the important lines and intersections. Do not over complicate the drawing.





Step 2 

The masking
Use blue masking fluid to preserve key areas of white paper. I use an old paintbrush handle to apply.

TIP: Always keep your masking fluid away from your paint and brushes. It is easy to apply masking fluid with a sharpened stick that can then be discarded. Never use your best brushes - they will be ruined. Wait for masking fluid to dry completely before applying paint.




Step 3

The first wash
Mix a thin wash (consistency of milk) using combinations of Raw Sienna, Burnt Sienna, and Cerulean blue. Aim for a variety of neutral tones. Apply these combinations to the whole paper using a variety of strokes with a large brush. You are simulating years of weather on this old wooden door. While this wash is still wet begin to apply texture. Spatter into the wash (using the bristle brush) a thicker mix of Burnt Sienna, and Raw Sienna. You are aiming to apply small dots of thicker paint that will sit on the surface of the first wash. When this first wash is almost dry, quickly overlay Raw Sienna into the metal hasp and lock areas. Rock the board and let the colours all intermingle naturally. Take advantage of any granulation that may occur.





Step 4

While stage 3 is still damp, use the end of your paint handle to press into the surface of the paper. This is called Impressing. The wet paint will settle in the grooves and make dark lines. Use this technique to pick out the grain patterns in the wood. Wait for the paper to dry completely before the next stage.





Step 5

The second wash
Apply a second wash over the whole surface using combinations that you used in stage 3. Just float the paint onto the surface, do not press down and activate the first layers of paint. While this wash is settling again, spatter in texture with a stiffer paint mix. With a thicker mix apply to the knot area in the wood - then press into this with your finger and make a circular motion. This is a great way of simulating the grain and texture in wood. It's better than using a brush!




Step 6

The third wash and the metal
When stage 5 is completely dry, start to add texture and metal effects to the hasp area. Use Raw Sienna, Burnt Sienna and a mix of Rose madder and Cerulean. Use a spatter technique to apply these individual colours to the metal. When this is nearly dry, repeat this stage. The idea is to build form and volume to the paper surface. When this is dry, glaze a thin wash of burnt umber to areas of the metal hasp to step down the tonal (value)scale. The 2 locks themselves will have thin remnants of your first wash. Glaze over this with a thin raw Sienna mix. Wait for this to dry then repeat this stage to start to find the form and shadows of the locks. The locks are a smooth almost golden surface compared to the rest of the painting. Raw Sienna with a dash of Rose madder is a good starting point to find these metallic colours.





Step 7

The details
Start to add more colour to the shadow areas using a Maroon mix of Phthalo Blue and Alizarin Crimson. Use the same colours to pick out random dark grain lines and any other darker detail. Add the dark shadows to the lock area.





Step 8

Lock out
Time to move to a conclusion. Check over your painting and add more details and texture as you may require. Your wood area may need another thin wash - if so, always apply these extra layers to a dry surface. The locks and hasp should look like they belong on this wooden background - there is a little perspective at play to make them stand away from the background. Accentuate the perspective lines and shadow areas if you feel it will add to your painting.