“Post & Wire” – Learn to Paint with Watercolours

About John Fisher

I was born and educated in England, graduating from the Luton School of Arts (now Barnfield College) in 1945. It was my hope to become a graphic artist, but at the end of the Second World War returning service men and women had first crack at the few jobs available, and rightly so. I took a number of jobs while I tried to break into my chosen field, and ended up being a reluctant carpenter. Many years passed and I emigrated to Canada in 1952, married a Canadian woman, started a family, and in 1955 finally started on a career which took in graphic arts, owner of my own graphics arts company, art director at an advertising agency, and careers in marketing, advertising and public relations.

I wish I could claim that my passion for art burned brightly throughout those years, but alas, the need to make a living took prominence. As with many people, I always promised myself that when I retired I would get back to painting again. That time came in 1989, when my wife and I were living the winter months in our condo in Destin, Florida. Robert Long, a talented watercolour artist, was offering private lessons from his nearby condo. He was my mentor, and made my retirement years infinitely richer.

In those days Robert taught only technique, and there were rarely more than four to six of us in those early classes. From Robert I regained my interest in photography as an adjunct to painting, and as the cliche goes – I never looked back. I have had many paintings accepted and hung in exhibitions in Florida and Ontario, where I now live. I’ve won some prizes, come first in some exhibitions, and occasionally won the Citizens’ Choice awards. But I mainly paint for fun – hence the choice of name for this site.

To learn more about John and to view more of his work, please follow the link below:

===> http://www.watercoloursforfun.com/


(Click Images in demonstration to Enlarge)

Step 1

Here is another step by step watercolour painting demonstration I set up for my Intermediate students for the Fall and winter of 2011. This striking photograph by Carrie Layne Mashon was posted onwww.paintmyphoto in September, 2010, and is used here with her kind permission. Image size is 9 3/4″ x 13″ on 300 lb. Arches cold pressed paper, using Winsor & Newton Artist quality colours. See also my site www.watercloursforfun.com for more techniques and paintings.

 Step 2

As usual, I start with a careful drawing of the main elements. In this instance I’ve tried to anticipate the confusion of lines in the grain texture by filling in the darkest areas with a light pencil. Although we will not attempt to copy the reference photograph exactly, it helps to have guidelines.

Step 3

I try to avoid using masking fluid whenever I can but in this case I wanted to put in a blue sky to complement the rusty wire and weathered post, so I protected the wire across the centre. This will allow me to continue the grain behind the wire with multiple washes. I usually experiment on a scrap of 300 lb paper if I’m not sure of a particular technique. Here I decide there is quite a bit of blue in this post, so I’m painting in some pure Ultramarine Blue with a 1/2 flat brush, leaving some white paper showing through.

 Step 4

I usually experiment on a scrap of 300 lb paper if I’m not sure of a particular technique. Here I decide there is quite a bit of blue in this post, so I’m painting in some pure Ultramarine Blue with a 1/2 flat brush, leaving some white paper showing through.

 Step 5

While still damp I apply some Brown Madder with a touch of my favourite shadow colour made from Antwerp Blue and Brown Madder.

Step 6

Then I apply some stronger colour and leave rough patches in between.

Step 7

Next I apply some streaks of grain made from Burnt Sienna with a touch of my shadow colour. You can experiment here with any number of grain colours to suit your style. If the post is new and made from pressure treated lumber it would tend to be on the green side. This is a well weathered post.

Step 8

Here I’m using a stiff bristle brush, water and facial tissue to lift and soften the hard edges along this along this rough grain texture.

Step 9

Stepping back a bit I’ve put in the first part of the LH shadow, using a wash of Antwerp Blue and Brown Madder, softening the edge and taking into account the cast shadow will follow the roughness of the post.

Step 10

Now I’m going back in with a #4 flat brush to fill in areas leading up to any raised edges. This will emphasize the light bouncing from the darker splits.

Step 11

This extreme close-up shows how to make these cracks come alive.

Step 12

Now for the wire. Another extreme close-up shows the under-painting using pure Ultramarine blue.

Step 13

I start to paint in the rusty staple using a mixture of Burnt Sienna and a touch of my shadow colour, softening the edges as needed.

Step 14

Next build up the rusty staple with our shadow colour, softening edges as needed

Step 15

You will notice I’ve covered up the rest of my painting as I start on the rusty staple. Because I enjoy detail my watercolours tend to be on my art table for lengthy periods and there is always the danger of my paper becoming dirty or paint stained, so I often cover up sections. I have put in some small flecks of masking fluid on the wire which will enable me to remove it later and create a raised bumpy look to my rusting areas. This mapping in was done with the usual mixture of Burnt Sienna and a touch of shadow colour.

Step 16

The darker edge is applied and softened as required.

Step 17

Next I soften and blend those light patches with a stiff bristle brush. This also drags some of the surrounding colour into those areas and gives the impression of roughness.

Step 18

Finally I map in the darkest shadows to complete the illusion of depth.

Step 19

Here is the finished result at this stage. I’ve mapped in the barbed wire segment and put in that dark shadow to establish were my darkest elements will be. I will complete the rest of the wire using much the same techniques, and then put in the final darkest shadows. Quite often my paintings only come together in the final session where the darkest shadows are needed.

Step 20

Here is the completed painting. The same techniques were used on the remaining wire and some shadows were added to enhance depth.


I hope you enjoyed this watercolour painting demo by John Fisher.

To learn more about John and to view more of his work, please follow the link below:

===> http://www.watercoloursforfun.com/

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