How to Paint Reflections – Steam Boat in Watercolour

Skill Level : 1 Beginner, 2 Intermediate

Medium : Watercolour Painting

Subject : Landscapes, Transport

Tutor : Dennis Clark

Class Length : 1 hour 55 minutes

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Gold Level or Higher Class

Class Description

Part 3 in the study of reflections in water. You will paint, in watercolours, this old steam boat, the Earnslaw, as it sails out of Queenstown on lake Wakatipu, NZ's South Island.

In this lesson you will learn:

1.  How to paint the distant grey sky and it's reflection in the distant lake
2.  How to paint the snow-capped mountains
3.  How to paint the steam boat
4.  How to paint the large wake of the boat.

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Class Tutorial

The template

Transfer the template. Make little marks on each side of the masking tape border to ensure that the horizon is level as the template is slightly slanted. Artist license has been used to add snow to the mountaintop and more reflections in the water.

Masking fluid

Apply masking fluid to the snow on the mountaintops, Pull little bits down using light, jagged strokes. Mask the light areas of the boat, the wake and the bow wave. Use a gem clip to mask smaller details on the steamboat. Add thin lines in the wake to show the movement of the boat. Blow dry.

The sky

Always work from the top to the bottom and from the lightest to the darkest. Choose a blue for the sky – ultramarine, cerulean or cobalt. Start at the top edge of the paper and work down to the mountaintops. Blow dry.

The mountains

Add blue and burnt sienna to the sky mix for a brown-gray colour. Paint the distant mountains. Add some cadmium orange to the mix. Drop some into the distant mountain and then cover the closer mountain. Paint the darker areas of the mountains with a dark blue-grey. Add some alizarin crimson to the blue-grey mix for purple shadows around the snow and the lightly shaded areas on the mountain. Mix a darker blue-brown for the darkest shadows. Blow dry.

The snow

Remove the masking fluid from the mountaintops. Mix alizarin crimson and ultramarine blue for a light blue-purple. Paint the shadow areas of the snow. Darken some areas a bit more for a 3D effect.

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The lefthand side

Mix burnt sienna with a little blue and a touch of cadmium yellow for a brown-green. This will make a warmer slope on the left. Add some alizarin crimson and blue into the brown-green mix. Paint top of the mountain and some random areas down the slope with this darker mix. Add a few little drops along the water’s edge.

The boat

Mix black using burnt sienna and ultramarine blue for the darkest areas of the boat. Add some cadmium red for the reddish brown areas, blending the colours as they meet. Blow dry. Use cadmium red toned down a bit with the dark mix for the funnel. Darken the right hand side to give it rounding. Lift out a highlight in the top section of the funnel. Blow dry.

Finishing the boat

Carefully remove the masking fluid from the boat.  Add the little bits of red and the blue-purple shadows. Use cadmium orange for the remaining lighter colours at the top of the steamboat. Lift out highlights on the windows where the sun hits. Use a rigger brush for the dark masts and the red lines on the side of the boat. Use the flat side of the brush to add a small amount of the dark mixture for the smoke. Soften it with a little water and a tissue. Blow dry.

The water

Mix ultramarine and a little of the dark mixture. Start at the top of the water, carefully avoiding the boat. Darkening the water as you move past the boat by adding more ultramarine and alizarin crimson. Turn your paper upside down. Make a stronger mix by adding more ultramarine blue and alizarin crimson. Run some of this mix along the top of the paper. Turn the paper right side up. Add dark streaks in the wake of the ship. Use a thirsty brush to lift out some of the dark mix for the reflection of the mountains and the boat. Add a few darker lines in the wake. Use ultramarine blue for the darkest sections of the wake, then drop some viridian into this blue while it is wet for a blue-green colour. Blow dry.

The bow

Use very little paint on the brush to add hints of the mountain colours into the lighter water to give it some life. Mix a dirty grey for the darker areas at the bow of the boat, under the boat and in parts of the wake. Blow dry.

Final painting

About Dennis Clark

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