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.
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.
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?
Here are some Watercolor tips to help your current painting plans:
- Illustrator Jean Tripier describes the use of bold backgrounds in watercolor painting, and how they can add just the right amount of punch to a simple composition.
- Have you ever used crumpled plastic wrap to get foresty, organic, random patches of texture on your watercolors? This article explains the steps so you can give it a try.
- The good folks over at Winsor & Newton have some tips about stretching watercolor paper to a nice flat board. On the same page, there is a side bar item about choosing the right watercolor paper surface too.
- The ever-helpful and uber-informative Jane Blundell has a page to help you make sense of some watercolor-specific terminology and characteristics.
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!
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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