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Nymph Echo : Painting lily pads and reflections on water with watercolor

Lilly pads watercolor on paper

Nymph Echo,
watercolor on paper
19.5 x 27 inches


Click on image to purchase a Print.

Click on image to purchase a Print.


Watercolor is such a great medium to render reflections on water.
I am painting a few watercolors on paper without mounting them on board for now as I will try to enter them in various watercolor competitions.
Here are the steps I took :

drawing on watercolor paper

I started with a detailed drawing on Arches hot press 140 lb. I did wet the paper before and placed it on a stretcher.

watercolor palette

Here is my color palette
Holbein: cobalt turquoise light,
Daniel Smith : Burnt Sienna
Da Vinci Prussian blue, Cadmium Lemon Yellow and Sap Green
 Van Gogh: Madder Lake Light

reserving whites

I did save some whites with liquid resist.

gradated blue wash

I am starting by a gradated wash of Prussian Blue on the lower corners of the painting.

 painting the Lilly pads leaves

I then start painting the Lilly pads leaves, mixing colors wet in wet.

mixing colors wet in wet

I am also painting the upper section, mixing different tones of Prussian blue and sap green wet in wet.

painting Lilly pads leaves

I work on the painting one section at a time, here starting to work on the water reflections under the Lilly pads.

light wash

For the middle section of the painting, I start by applying a light blue wash and then will paint the many colors of the water reflections.

messy painting

I am mixing my colors directly on my working table, I like a bit of mess when painting :)

hard edges on water

Water reflections: I have a lot of hard edges, that I will soften later with water and a stiff brush

taking off masking fluid

I take off the resist ,soften edges and paint some white areas with a light wash


Time to splash! I made 3 washes mix, the blue wash has a bit of white gouache added to it.

splashes and drips

I add splashes of color and spary the painting with water, letting the paint move and taking off paint I don’t want with a tissue paper.

Lilly pads watercolor on paper

Nymph Echo,
watercolor on paper
17 x 29 inches

Here are a few close-up of the finished painting:

Here is a time lapse video,

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{ 26 comments… add one }

  • Dee Whitney August 3, 2015, 3:17 pm

    Absolutely love the light filled reflections of your watercolor! I live by a lake and enjoy watching the ever changing surface in the different lights. Am encouraged to try my own watercolor now that I ‘ve watched your video several times. Thank you so much!

  • Dee July 27, 2015, 5:22 pm

    Love this lily pond painting. I’ve watched the video twice and got so inspired that I’ve started one of my own. I’ve always struggled with water, but your technique makes it come to life, hence why I was so anxious to start. Your work is beautiful, and you’re so generous with the tutorials. Thank you!

    Do you ever provide workshops in the states?

    • Sandrine Pelissier July 27, 2015, 5:57 pm

      Thanks Dee, I am very happy to hear that you got ispired to start a lily pond painting :) Yes water reflections ca be tricky but if you take it one step at a time, I am sure you can get good results.
      I might teach in the future in the US but nothing is planned for now.
      In the meantime, I have two online classes available on the blog: http://www.sandrinepelissier.com/online-classes.html

  • bobita Saikia April 20, 2015, 6:41 pm

    Its nice and helpful. I am trying my hands in water color and your tutorial helps me a lot . Thanks!!

  • Kay July 17, 2013, 4:21 pm

    For some reason the time lapse video does not play! Just the music comes on and very small pictures if I put pointer on the time lapse area. Do you know what is going on and how I may correct this problem?
    Thanks, K

  • Rosanne July 2, 2013, 3:49 am

    I love your tree paintings and that you used the properties of water to achieve the watery look in this painting. I have painted watercolour seascapes, but not that beautiful reflectiveness of almost still water with just ripples. Yours is a great gift and you have truly caught the light!

  • Cindy July 1, 2013, 12:15 pm

    I just love this painting. You make it look so easy. The color choices are amazing. I’d love to be able to do this.

  • Neeti Hegde June 23, 2013, 10:14 am

    Watching your demos and tutorial is really motivating me to start working on watercolours. Thanks a lot!!!!!

  • EmmaLeduc June 5, 2013, 1:23 am

    It is SO beautiful. Watercolor looks so easy when we look at your work !
    I’ve been thinking about doing seas and lakes for quite a while, watching the video really motivates me !
    Thanks a lot !

  • Engela June 5, 2013, 12:31 am

    You make it look so incredibly easy! Thank you for the step by steps and videos.

  • Linda Kuruzar June 4, 2013, 12:24 pm

    I think your paintings are amazing and the videos are fun to watch. I would like to know why you splash with gouach, and if you have always done it or is it a style you adapted for yourself. It is hard to see the difference before splashing and after on the monitor. I am afraid to try it because I’m sure it would make my pictures cloudy or dull. Also, I notice you draw everything in with such detail, even the different tones in water and foliage. Do you find this helps with getting the right tonal values for depth and balance? You make beautiful paintings from beautiful reference photos, but the paintings don’t have that ‘copied’ look. Does the splashing help with that? Oh, and how do you pick the colors you use to splash with?
    Linda K

    • Sandrine Pelissier June 5, 2013, 9:30 am

      Hello Linda,
      I am quite controlling and tight when I paint so I splash as a way to introduce some element of chance and also because I like the look of drips. I am choosing the colors depending on the painting, considering what color I would like more of. I think the splashing part helps with the painting looking more like a painting and less like a picture.
      Thanks for your question :)

  • Sylvie Allouche June 4, 2013, 9:46 am

    C’est vraiment magnifique Sandrine. Bravo !

  • Andrea June 4, 2013, 7:27 am

    Holy Moly! This watercolor is remarkable! Your attention to details with your drawing and then with the way you choose your colors shows how much you love to paint. Would you please tell me how long this one took you from start to finish? I also like the way you use your own style palette…Great to watch you working. Good luck with your entries.

    • Sandrine Pelissier June 5, 2013, 9:32 am

      Hello Andrea,
      I am glad you liked the tutorial, I think when I started gathering all the video material, I had about a bit more than 10 hours, that counts only the hours of painting, you have to have a break once in a while or time to think. I worked on it for 4-5 days at the studio.

  • Alison Lynch June 4, 2013, 6:58 am

    Its a beautiful watercolour Sandrine, and I loved watching your process in the video.
    Good luck with the competitions


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