This is the start of a watercolor – Kitchen Counter Bouquet (19 x 19, sold) – painted a few years ago. In the first photo, you can see loose washes on top of a graphite drawing. I’m just laying a family of colors in – not being particularly careful. Using olive greens, burnt oranges and deep berry reds in the under painting reminds me to stay within that color range, to meet the vision I’m aiming for in the final painting.
In the next image, the values are getting darker, and the brush strokes are getting more specific in their shape & placement. I’ve left the petals of the white rose in the center unpainted, to preserve the cool white color of the paper for contrast against the soft layers of transparent pigment on the counter tiles.
The last layers of pigment are the most deliberate in their shape, density and color-temperature. This is also the stage where I squint a lot to check and re-check that my values are right. Layering transparent watercolor, or glazing, is a slow, illustrative process. Building a watercolor this way is like layering dozens of sheets of transparent, colored cellophane, one on top of the other, illuminating the colors from underneath with the white of your paper.