Watercolor Painting Process – Part 2
Hello there! I am finally getting to my posts about how I do a watercolor painting. Sorry for the wait! This will have to be broken up into several posts, because I have a lot of pictures. So Part 2 is just a couple of pictures showing you what I do after I have my final drawing of my main subject, in this case, my sixth sea turtle. Part 1 addressed how I stretch my paper before painting on it.
Step 1 – After I finish my drawing on paper, I usually trace it onto tracing paper before I transfer it to my watercolor paper. Tracing paper shows through to the watercolor paper much clearer than the drawing paper. It is extra drawing, but I find it works best. This time I traced the turtle with a fine point black pen instead of pencil which is what I have been doing. I found it worked much better, so I will be investing in some of these pens soon!
I have an Artograph Light Tracer 2 Light Box that I use to transfer my drawings to my watercolor paper. Here is a link where you can buy one if you are interested. http://www.dickblick.com/products/artograph-lightracer-light-box/ Check around other websites for a better price, but Dick Blick is a great company.
By the way, my favorite watercolor paper is Arches brand, cold press, 300 lb. http://www.dickblick.com/products/arches-bright-white-watercolor-paper/ It is thick, heavy and unfortunately, on the expensive side. However, I get it online at I have two different sizes. The one in this picture is 18″x12″. I have a smaller one that is 12″x10″. I have had the smaller one for many years which is what I use for transferring smaller images to smaller paper. When I began doing larger paintings, I had to get the larger one which has obviously come in very handy for doing all of these huge sea turtles!
Step 2 – I plug in my light box and put it on my desk. Then I lay the drawing down on the lightboard. Sometimes I tape the drawing to the lightboard, but in this case I couldn’t, because it was too large.
Step 3 – I turn on the light box.
Step 4- I lay down the watercolor paper on top of the drawing, positioning the paper where I want the turtle to be. I usually have my background idea in mind before I do this. Sometimes I do a rough sketch of that idea; sometimes I don’t. In this case I decided I wanted this turtle to be coming out of the water and be mostly on the beach. So I already had in mind to have a horizon line at the top of the turtle with sky above and the beach and part water around him/her. I haven’t decided on its name yet! 😉
A note for beginners: Sometimes I tape the drawing onto the back of the paper to hold it into position, but not always. But you will have to know where you want your drawing to be on the watercolor paper before you do this. If you’re just starting out, this is a good idea. I use white artist’s tape and just tape down the corners of the tracing paper. It comes off easily when I’m done, and doesn’t tear the paper. I never use scotch tape or masking tape on my paper, because I have had it tear the paper when lifting it off.
In my smaller paintings, where I want to have a border, I usually leave the initial tape around the piece I have stretched and paint with the paper still on the board. Then when I am finished with the painting, I remove the tape carefully and have a 1/2″ border around the painting to allow for matting and framing. However, I have a border around my first sea turtle painting that I found I don’t like, so I have not done that with the rest of them.
LIGHT BOX TRACING
© Patsy H. Parker
Posted on September 1, 2014, in Art Talk and tagged watercolor painting, watercolor painting process - part 1, watercolor painting process - part 2, watercolor painting process - part 3, watercolor painting process - part 4, watercolor painting process - part 5. Bookmark the permalink. 6 Comments.
Fascinating this Patsy and as Jill said, you do look very professional. A really interesting in-depth post which others wanting to learn about this process will find greatly beneficial 🙂
Thanks, Sherri! I hope people find it helpful. I’m sure I may have my own way of doing certain things that other watercolorists might not do the same, but I’ve read and learned from so many books, it’s crazy!
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Love reading about your process, looking forward to seeing the next phase.
Thank you, Mary. I guess it’s a little different with oil painting?? I have never tried that. I don’t have enough ventilation in the room where I do my art. 🙂
Wow…very cool, Patsy! The process is so involved…I had no idea. I love the photos you included…you look so professional! 🙂
Thanks, Jill. 🙂