Watercolor Studies

Watercolor Studies

Recently, I’ve been visiting and staying with my parents, just helping them out some. They live in a very quiet neighborhood, and I love peace and quiet. 🙂

I brought along my sketch books, charcoal, pencils, and my new watercolor gear. So glad I brought that, because I had a lot of fun experimenting with watercolors!

I’ve been asked what sizes I prefer for creating studies. I mostly paint in oils, and my favorite sizes are:
• small 6×8
• medium 8×10 | 9×12
• large 11×14
I rarely paint studies larger than 11×14.

Sizes 11×14 and under are also very convenient for traveling and outdoor plein air studies.

Study #1 – “Tipi Rain”

Before starting, I pre-visualized a lot of neutral greys. I wanted, in the simplest form, the main subject to easily pop out when surrounded with a basic neutral color.

No reference photos used – just memory and imagination. Tipi’s are a favorite subject for me, and I’ve spent a ton of time practicing.

I started with lightly sketching a low horizon line and standard triangle tipi shape. Then I determined the direction of the light and shadows, and added the darkest colors – very lightly. The greatest contrast, or values (shadows/highlights), emphasize the main subject.

Time spent: less than 10 minutes
It was fun watching the little water ‘accidents’, shapes, and movements.

Tipi Rain by KWeigand

My next study would be bison! They’re such powerful creatures, and I really enjoy painting them.

Study #2 – “Bison Power”

Sketching out this scene took the most time.
I started with very lightly creating some basic circles for their heads, body, and hips. Then I worked out their topline, leg placements, general body composition, muscle shapes, and fur.

I wanted the bison on the right to be pushing forward, so his spine is arched a little more, with front legs moving forward, and his head is slightly lowered and tucked.

Back when I was a youth, I was on a 4-H horse judging team and I would study bone, muscle, and characteristics of horses for hours, upon hours, upon hours. Devoting a lot of time to studying animal shapes, bones & muscle structures, and basic forms will help you create.

Just remember it takes a lot of time and patience – years of learning and eye development. Your eye, or style, is constantly evolving.

Time spent: approx 20 minutes.

Bison Power watercolor by KWeigand

Eventhough I had a full set of watercolors with lots of color choices, I only wanted to design each study with a very limited palette of color. Keeping it simple.

How many colors can you spot in each study?

I do recommend if your just getting started in art, or want to practice more, start with tiny and quick thumbnail sketches, or small sketches. Work out the kinks on shapes, composition, shadows, and highlights in your sketchpad. Once you have the general layout, then try creating a new larger study, sketching it again on your canvas and then add a few colors. Try using a very limited palette.

I enjoy creating small studies and it helps to add those much needed ‘extra miles’ of practice for your hand/paintbrush/and developing creator’s eye.

If your interested in seeing what’s currently available for sale, visit WesternGalleries.com


© Hill Country Images
Do not print your own or reproduce our artwork without first getting written permission from the artist. All rights reserved.

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