Watercolor: Vacation Rental and Links to Watercolor Tips

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Painting Interior Spaces with Watercolor

This watercolor was inspired by a reference photo taken in Florence, Italy a few decades ago. Old world charm, wrapped around a relaxed array of books, maps and tangerines from the market downstairs, all warmed with a wash of Italian light.

I’ve loved window light spilling over rooms like this since I was a child.  I enjoy sinking my teeth into the challenge of trying to really see & render the values and temperatures that convey such a relaxed, invitational atmosphere.

the beginnings of a roomscape painting in transparent washes of watercolor
Layering glazes of transparent watercolor over a drawing that was transferred using the grid method
Do you need a shot of Get-to-It encouragement to make art more often? Check out this mini-course (free). I made it especially for you, because I’ve been there.

Using The Grid Method to Transfer Reference Photos to Paper

I was waiting for a scheduled power outage yesterday to repair burnt poles from the Thomas Fire behind our house. I sat at the kitchen counter, waiting for the crew to hike up the hillside, and I snuck a few layers of watercolor on a painting in process while they were working.   

No lights, so a bright kitchen seemed like a workaround painting room.  Two emails popped up, almost at the same time, asking how I transfer reference photos to watercolor paper.

I love using a simplified grid system, and I’ve looked for grid-drawing watercolor tips and tutorials online to share with you, but they seem a little complicated to me. 

On a whim, I popped my camera on the tripod, and talked about using the grid method to transfer drawings (see the video below), and why it works so well to pre-draw your work ahead of your painting time.

Working on another grid drawing for a watercolor recently

Try to be Helpful

I just posted the impromptu video on why I love the grid method for drawing the bones of a watercolor on my youtube channel. (See below.)

If you’re a beginner at drawing and watercolor painting, and you struggle with placement, shape and size of the objects you’re trying to draw from photos, this brief overview might be helpful to you. (I’ll send you the video link in an email if you’d like)

It’s not an in-depth tutorial – but it’s enough of an overview to hopefully whet your appetite and inspire a little research and experimentation. Capiche?

Watercolor Tips

Here are some Watercolor tips to help your current painting plans:

We Get Better at Art Together

What are your Go-To watercolor painting tips? And how do you transfer your reference images to watercolor paper?

Do you use a grid, or a projector, or free-hand? What about carbon paper?

Do you use water-soluble pencil, or watercolor pencil? Dish in the comments so we can all be smarter together. 🙂

Thanks for stopping by today, and I’ll see you in the next post!


P.S. You can subscribe to get each new post straight to your inbox via email by signing up here (free).

A table in front of an open window in watercolor
Vacation Rental 10 x 6.59 Watercolor on paper (Sold)

Art Quote

On April 15, 1875 at 35 boulevard des Capucines, in the former studios of the notorious photographer Nadar, the First Impressionist Exhibition, as it soon would be called, only ran for a month. But when it closed on May 15th, history had been made. For the first time artists had banded together to show their work to the public directly without the sanction of the government or the judgment of a jury. Defying tradition and the authority of the administration, the participating artists quickly were recognized as the avant-garde, and their show became a touchstone for all such future Modernists’ efforts.

Paul Tucker

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12 thoughts on “Watercolor: Vacation Rental and Links to Watercolor Tips”

  1. Have you tried any of the apps specifically for gridding source or reference images? Will save you much time and no printing of images necessary. Just work from your iPad and set any number (also width, color) grid lines you choose.

    1. Hi Renee, Yes, thanks for the reminder. I’ve tried at least three on my phone and ipad, and they are indeed helpful. I’ve used them in my studio, but lately, I’m laying my drawings down on the couch, in the evenings, on a lap desk, and it’s easier (for me) to grab a print out and fold away everything but a single square in my perpetually distracted view. Less to hold on the lap desk, and more portable, as well as easier on the eyes than the ipad screen if I’ve already been on the computer writing all day. If there’s a particular app you prefer for this, can you leave the name in the comments here so others can check it out? Thanks!

  2. Ah, Firenze! What a lovely city. I’m glad you were inspired by it. Were I a painter, I think I might have been a little intimidated, thinking of all of those other artists who worked there over the past several centuries.

    1. Hi BJK – The intimidation is real. I only started painting from photos I took on that trip over a decade later, because it took that long to muster the courage. 🙂 It is indeed a lovely city, and I can think about it without images N&K walking the streets ahead in the sunlight. Thanks for the note. XO

  3. Kristy Brenner

    Thanks for doing this. I’ve been thinking about using gridding but could see myself getting bogged down in measuring and dividing — not good for me. This workable and kind of peaceful.

    1. Oh Kristy, I’m so glad it makes sense to you – even just a little! Translating something conversationally that is usually described as a strictly measured grid, with letters down one access in each cube, and numbers across the other access in each cube makes my head throb. This fold and go method works so well for me, it has increased my output; especially the notion of filling a couple blocks each night on the couch. It’s part of my unwind routine now, with peppermint tea! My fingers are crossed that it works for you too! Bring you questions if they come up back here and I’ll try to help!

    1. Wow, Tatiana, What a sweetheart! Thanks for your kind encouragement! I’m *so* glad you’re finding some helpful tidbits in my ramblings! Happy painting and printing and drawing to you! I clink my cup to yours in a toast to our collective, flourishing creativity!

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