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Layering watercolors to paint clouds and the sea : Getting a new perspective, watercolor on paper mounted on board

Getting a new perspective, watercolor on paper mounted on board, 30 x 30 inches

Getting a new perspective, watercolor on paper mounted on board, 30 x 30 inches


Click on image to buy Print or Original Painting.

Click on image to buy Print or Original Painting.


This is a watercolor on paper mounted on board. Until now I have been using a layering technique with watercolors mostly for portraits because I find this is a great way to convey the subtle tones of skin and to avoid hard edges. For this subject I wanted to try that technique to paint the clouds and the sea.
I did mount the watercolor paper with my drawing on board before I start painting. If you are interested in that technique you can read the post here: Mounting Watercolor paper on board
When layering watercolors I am always starting with the yellow layer as I am going to be using Yellow Ocher and this is the least transparent of all the colors I will use.

painting the yellow watercolor layer

I start painting only with yellow ocher watercolor. I am wetting the paper with plain water before I start painting the sky, so I am sure all the edges will stay soft. I am also creating some white areas by removing paint with a tissue paper


ultramarine and cobalt blue watercolor

For the blue layer I want to use two tones of blue, a warmer ultramarine blue and a colder Cobalt Turquoise blue

painting the sea with ultramarine blue

Once the yellow layer is completely dry I start adding a layer of Ultramarine blue to the sea.When dry I start painting the boats and add details to the sea.

masking the boats

Before painting the clouds, I protect the boats I just painted with masking fluid so I can paint with large gesture and not have the dark blue on the boats bleed into the sky

masking tape between sea and sky before painting

I am also using masking tape to keep a clean edge between the sea and sky.

painting clouds with ultramarine and cobalt blue

I am then wetting the sky area with plain water before painting the clouds, I am using ultramarine on the top part and cobalt on the lower part.

alazarin crimson red

For the red layer I am going to use Alazarin crimson watercolor.

adding a red layer

I then add a very light layer of red on the sky and sea areas,I am also adding some red to the boats


Layered watercolor seascape

The last step I am taking is scrubbing off a bit of color with a stiff brush and lots of water, then adding a bit more white with a fine layer of gouache.

Here is a time lapse video that will show you the whole process in about 4 minutes

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{ 2 comments… add one }

  • Mercedes December 8, 2014, 11:05 am

    I loved the post, and the painting seems to me to be exceptional. I have two questions to you. Do you remove the paint with a thirsty brush or with paper tissue? and, as you extend gouache, Is it white gouache diluted with a brush? Thank you for sharing. Respectfully Mercedes

    • Sandrine Pelissier December 8, 2014, 12:12 pm

      Thanks Mercedes:)
      When I remove a bit of paint, I use a stiff brush with water and then I use tissue paper to take off the paint I just scrubbed off.
      Yes the white gouache I used here was diluted with a bit of water.

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