How to Paint a Venice Canal in Watercolour

Skill Level : 1 Beginner

Medium : Watercolour Painting

Subject : Cityscapes, Transport

Tutor : Dennis Clark

Class Length : 2 hours

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Class Description

We are so used to normal roads that are constructed on terra firma that we tend to forget there also waterways in certain areas which are the only means of transport. There are water roads (canals) in various countries such as England , Holland, and in Venice, etc. In this class you will paint one of Venice’s canals in watercolour.

In this lesson you will learn:

1.  How to paint a different colour sky
2.  How to paint a sunlit wall
3.  How to simplify the windows and wall details
4.  How to paint the water reflections
5.  and much more

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Template

With a soft pencil such as a 3B, rub graphite on the back of the template and then trace it over onto the watercolour paper. With the top well taped down, check every so often to see if the lines have been transferred properly. The lines must not be too light.

Plan the whites

Carefully look at your reference photograph to locate all the areas that need to be kept white. Carefully cover them with masking fluid. Use a smallish round brush, remembering to clean the brush every so often – more often than not.

Paint the sky

Wash in the blue of the sky and lighten it as it nears the horizon. Add more water to the mix to do this or you can simply lighten it up with a thirsty brush.

While still damp, drop in a very light touch of red to the lower part to add some glow into the sky. If it is too red then lift some of the colour out until you have the correct hue.

Block in the walls of the building

Start with the furthest buildings that are in the sun. The add a medium brown wash for the  wall on the right, which is in the shade. These first washes are to establish the colour and tonal ranges -sunshine and shadows.

Block in the darks

Painting in of the darks first helps to give a sense of perspective and proportion to the scene. Don't go too dark at this stage.

Window baskets

Plot in the foliage and shadows of the window boxes. Add them in a very impressionistic manner.

Notice that the colours and the tonal ranges of the window baskets lighten and get duller as they recede into the distance. This gives the impression of depth to the painting.

Adding the shadows

The shadows on the wall are glazed over with a warm purple glow. This glaze has been added over the light brown wall as well. When glazing, make sure that the painting is completely dry, and then apply with a very light pressure so as not to disturb the detail underneath.

Walls in deep shade

Because the sun is on the right side, this wall is in deep shade. Begin to add in the windows with a darker mix of the shade colour.

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The main building

With the darker colour carefully negative paint out the shapes of the pillars. Darker shadows have also been added to the flower boxes.

Add touches of red to the window boxes to brighten up the scene.

Paint the canal water

Establish the shadow along the building edge. The lighter colour is the pavement and the darker colour is the vertical wall of the embankment.  Block in the basic colour of the boats.

Paint in the reflection of the sky with bright blue.

Main water reflections

When blocking the main reflection, remember to keep the edges jagged to emulate the ripples in the water. Keep all lines in the vertical and NOT crosswise at all.

While the paint is still damp (not wet) drop in the dark reflections so that the edges soften out slightly.

Add the poling sticks

Paint the two poling sticks that have been parked for future use. The light strip is the pavement and the darker strip is the reflection of the pavement wall.

Add the jagged reflections of the downpipe and the poles

Add the fence in the distance.

The main ripples in the water

With a flat, hard brush that has been dampened, carefully lift out some ripples, being careful to keep them perfectly horizontal to the bottom edge of your painting.

You can also carefully scratch out the reflections with a craft knife.

Final painting

About Dennis Clark

Dennis has been drawing and painting for most of his life (since 1944) and shortly after that in watercolours. During WWII there were no art books so to speak, so he had to teach himself through experimentation, sweat and tears. He teaches the following mediums online - Watercolours, Pastels, Acrylics, Pencil, Pastels, Pen and Ink and Oils.
Read more about Dennis Clark

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