Shaping Studies Tutorial Day 6


Artwork-QoR watercolor on Hahnemühle Anniversary watercolor paper. Brushes: Neptune Travel round size 10.  Doodlewash prompt: Buildings. Photo reference courtesy of gburgesskc on Pixabay.

I’ve been sharing some quick studies that I’ve done using underpaintings and negative painting techniques.  I’ve been dealing with laptop problems, so you may not have seen all of these.  You can find them at:

While the techniques can be used for studies and quick paintings, they can also be combined with other techniques for a more complex painting. Today, I’m sharing one of those. This was still a quick painting. It took longer timewise, because I waited 10-15 minutes between each glaze (layer of painting) and I spent some time drawing. Including the drawing, and that drying time, this took about an hour and a half.

I started with an underpainting of swirling shapes. I let this dry completely.

Note for beginners: An underpainting is an initial layer of light color. It can be a wash – an application of paint that covers all or a large area of the paper or simply shapes like this. The underpainting is meant to influence the painting in subtle ways. It may show in the finished painting, but more often will simply influence the colors that come afterward.

Then I drew my weaver bird and his nest. Yes – his. As with many species, the male weaver bird uses his nest building skills to impress the females!

I followed this up with a glaze of QoR Benzimidazolone Yellow. I dropped small amounts of Ultramarine Blue Violet into the still-wet yellow and tilted the paper to let it all blend into a green. After that wash dried, I added more of the yellow to deepen the color on the bird. I let all of this dry.

Note for beginners: A wash is a thin layer of paint used to cover large areas with color- usually the entire paper. A glaze is another wash, but implies that you are painting over a dry layer(s) of paint.

Most of the work was done in this step. I used a thin wash of QoR Manganese Blue on the bird’s face and beak. I mixed the yellow and blue – about 3 parts yellow to blue – and glazed all around the nest and the bird. Within the nest, I switched to a dryer brush and painted, but left some strands the lighter green. This is negative painting.

While the nest was still damp, but not too wet, I added QoR Quinacridone Gold as shading around the nest. I watered down the color and added a little for shading on the bird. A thicker mix was used to color the eye.

Making up a creamy mix of purple using equal amounts of Ultramarine Blue Violet, Quinacridone Violet with just a touch of Iridescent Gold (Fine), I darken the bird’s face, and parts of the wing and add detail to the eye.

The negative painting technique is used to make leaf shapes in the background, and add shadows within the nest. I add more water to my mix, and add deeper shading to the bird, and some of the foliage. Although, they aren’t as distinct, I make more leaf shapes.

Quinacridone Gold is used in the upper right to soften the change between foliage and sky. At this point, the original swirls of Manganese Blue are mostly hidden except on the left. However, there are subtle signs of them that show up better in the original than in the scan.

In a few places, to add some feathery shapes on the wing and vary texture in the background, I lifted some color while the paint was wet, by letting a thirsty brush sit and absorb paint.

Note for beginners: ‘Thirsty’ means that your brush is damp, but dryer than the paint on the paper. Some of the paint will flow back into the brush.

I used a white Uniball Signo pen to add highlights to the bird’s head and a few other areas on the body and leg.

The earlier Shaping Studies were very quick paintings that made use of some brush studies and were meant to be fun, relaxing and practice. The underpainting and negative painting techniques were the main features of those paintings. Today, I hope I’ve shown you how they can be used to enhance a painting without being the dominant features.

Shaping Studies Tutorial Day 5


Artwork-QoR watercolor on Hahnemühle Anniversary watercolor paper. Brushes: Princeton Elite Dagger, and Neptune Travel round size 8.  Doodlewash prompt: Natural Wonders. Winter sunsets are a natural wonder and so are horses!

The full technique for these 10-15 minute negative paintings can be found on Shaping Studies Tutorial Day 1. I’m trying not to repeat myself too much.

I started with this set of brush studies done in QoR Manganese Blue.

I decided I wanted to do another horse.

The only other color I used for this painting was Cadmium Red Light. I painted around the shape with a thin wash. Once it dried I added some more color with a thicker mix. The glow made me think of a snowy winter sunset.

These quick studies are tied in to my Princeton Aqua Elite Brush Review and Tutorial-How to Paint with QoR Iridescent Colors. (By the way, one of the eight ongoing Doodlewash giveaways is for the black paper and the QoR colors I used in the QoR Iridescent tutorial.  You can find the giveaway here.)

Shaping Studies Tutorial Day 4


Artwork-QoR watercolor on Hahnemühle Anniversary watercolor paper. Brushes: Princeton Elite Dagger, and Neptune Travel round size 8.  Doodlewash prompt: Treats.  One the great treats in my life is watching the geese and ducks coming in and taking off from the lake.

The full technique for these 10-15 minute negative paintings can be found on Shaping Studies Tutorial Day 1. I’m trying not to repeat myself too much.

I started with this set of brush studies of birds – ducks and geese, I think. Maybe a swan there, lol. These were done in QoR Manganese Blue.

I’m sorry. I forgot to scan the in-between step, where I painted the entire card with a thin wash of QoR Benzimidazolone Yellow.

Once the yellow was dry, I painted around the duck with QoR Quinacridone Gold. You may be getting a sense of the colors I like, lol.

These quick studies are tied in to my Princeton Aqua Elite Brush Review and Tutorial-How to Paint with QoR Iridescent Colors. (By the way, one of the eight ongoing Doodlewash giveaways is for the black paper and the QoR colors I used in the QoR Iridescent tutorial. You can find the giveaway here.)

Shaping Studies Tutorial Day 3


Artwork-QoR watercolor on Hahnemühle Anniversary watercolor paper. Brushes: Princeton Elite Dagger, and Neptune Travel round size 8.  Doodlewash prompt: Rainforest.  Penguin dreams of the rainforest

The full technique for these 10-15 minute negative paintings can be found on Shaping Studies Tutorial Day 1. I’m trying not to repeat myself too much.

I started with this set of brush studies. Notice how abstract they are – you really don’t have to draw a ‘thing’. Abstract is fine if that is how you roll.

I have to admit, my brain was fuzzy when I started this one, and I couldn’t decide what I wanted to paint. So I just started and after a few moments I decided there was a head, and then a beak, and oh yes! I was painting around the shape of a penguin. I love when penguins spontaneously happen!

I had started with purple and that’s a suitable color for the arctic chill but then I thought of the Doodlewash prompt ‘Rainforest’. And I’ll bet penguins dream of warmer, colorful places, so I added Qor QoR Benzimidazolone Yellow, QoR Cadmium Red Light.

After it all dried, I added some Qor Quinacridone Gold to deepen the yellows and imply some shadows.

These quick studies are tied in to my Princeton Aqua Elite Brush Review and Tutorial-How to Paint with QoR Iridescent Colors. (By the way, one of the eight ongoing Doodlewash giveaways is for the black paper and the QoR colors I used in the QoR Iridescent tutorial. You can find the giveaway here.)

Shaping Studies Tutorial Day 2


Artwork-QoR watercolor on Hahnemühle Anniversary watercolor paper. Brushes: Princeton Elite Dagger, and Neptune Travel round size 8.  Doodlewash prompt: Patterns – there is a repetition of bears here.

This week I’m sharing some practice studies painted over practice studies that take no more than 10-15 minutes to do. I wrote up the full technique for Shaping Studies Tutorial Day 1. Rather than repeat myself, for the remaining days, I’ll keep it shorter, mostly dealing with anything I did differently.

My little bear dreaming of being a big bear started with these quick brush studies. They were done in QoR Manganese Blue.

When you have an initial wash or painting like this, it is called an underpainting. Most often an underpainting is a light wash meant to add a tone to whatever you are painting. In this case, these shapes end up adding texture and interest. You want to be careful that you don’t have an underpainting that is too dark or it can conflict with the actual subject and colors of your work. You want influence not dominance.

I chose to do a negative painting of a bear cub because I like doing quick studies of bears.

This time I decided I wanted my negative shape, the bear, to be in color, so I painted the entire background in a thin wash of QoR Quinacridone Gold.

Notice the glints of white and bright blue? I wasn’t thorough with my wash and some of the original shapes and white of the paper remained. I liked it and left it.

When that wash completely dried, I painted around the bear’s shape with QoR Manganese Blue to create an aura. I added more Quinacridone Gold around the bottom of the painting.

These quick studies are tied in to my Princeton Aqua Elite Brush Review and Tutorial-How to Paint with QoR Iridescent Colors. (By the way, one of the eight ongoing Doodlewash giveaways is for the black paper and the QoR colors I used in the QoR Iridescent tutorial. You can find the giveaway here.)

Shaping Studies Tutorial Day 1


Artwork-QoR watercolor on Hahnemühle Anniversary watercolor paper. Brushes: Princeton Elite Dagger, and Neptune Travel round size 6.  Doodlewash prompt: Splashes of Color

Whoah! It’s been a busy week and I anticipate the same next week.  So I’m slapping together some posts that are quick and easy for me, and I hope fun and easy for you.

Over the last month, I did some quick studies for my Princeton Aqua Elite Brush Review and Tutorial-How to Paint with QoR Iridescent Colors. (By the way, one of the eight ongoing Doodlewash giveaways is for theblack paper and the QoR colors I used in the QoR Iridescent tutorial. You can find the giveaway here.)

Negative painting is a technique where you paint the background around a subject or subjects.  It can involve several layers, but I’m keeping this simple, spending no more than 5 to 15 minutes on a painting.

These are meant to be practice.  They’ll help you learn how your brushes work, how your colors mix and how to visualize shapes.  Some of them may turn out ugly – that’s okay, they’re practice.  

  • Start with something like this. It doesn’t have to be this fancy-just a bunch of swirls, stripes and dots is fine, but they should all be one color. I used QoR Manganese Blue.
  • Let this dry COMPLETELY. Consider doing this over two days, letting this step dry and then coming back for the second step. Even less time required of you each day.
  • Decide on a shape. Something you like and want to paint often, but keep it very, very simple. I chose a dragon, just because, and that’s a terrific reason. If you wish, draw the shape lightly in pencil. I seldom do, but I do this a lot.
  • Choose two or three colors that you think will go well with the color you’ve already painted.
  • Mix one color with lots of water (to keep it transparent) and start painting around the shape. Ignore your initial shapes and paint right over them. I started with QoR Benzimidazolone Yellow, painting along each side.
  • Mix the second color with lots of water, and paint elsewhere along the shape. Overlap the yellow in places and let them blend. I used QoR Cadmium Red Light.
  • Let it all dry completely.
  • Once dry, I decided to deepen the color in places and painted areas with thicker mixes of the same colors.
  • Like what you’ve done? Right on!

Don’t like your result? Is the shape to wonky? That’s okay. You practice to learn. Look up a reference photo or the real thing and compare. Is your shape too round, too flat, too long, too crooked? Really look at your reference. Then try this again. Train your brain to know those shapes.

Or maybe you don’t like the way the colors came out. Next time, try one different color in the same family. For instance, I used Cadmium Red Light, so if I were trying again I might use Quinacridone Rose.