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Painting lily pads and reflections on water with watercolor on ARTiful painting demos by Sandrine Pelissier

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

Watercolor is such a great medium to render reflections on water and paint beautiful scenes with lily pads.
One of the trick  to render a water scene is to pay attention to the quality of your edges and see from your reference picture which edges are soft (blurry) and which edges are hard (well defined).

Here are the steps you can take to paint a water scene with lily pads.

drawing on watercolor paper

Start by stretching your paper, here I am using a board and stretcher bars. Then transfer a detailed drawing on your paper. I used Arches hot press 140 lb.  To transfer your drawing you could use a grid system or a light box.

You might also like: How to make your own lightbox for tracing on watercolor paper

watercolor palette to paint lily pads on water

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

start by applying masking fluid on your paper where you want to preserve some white areas.

With watercolor, the first step is often to preserve some white areas on the paper with masking fluid, so you can paint around freely.

Look at your reference picture and see where you want to leave the paper unpainted. Apply masking fluid on those areas.

With masking fluid, you have to wait for the liquid to air dry as if you use a hairdryer, it will bind the masking fluid to the paper and make it very difficult to take it off.

I am a Blick Art Materials affiliate and I receive a small compensation for sales. That does not effect in any way the cost of the purchaser’s order but it helps me keeping the content of this blog free.

 

Daler-Rowney Masking Fluid

This fluid is used to create striking white highlights or to mask areas for overpainting at a later stage. It forms a fast-drying, water-resistant film on watercolor paper and board, and is easily removed when dry.

pain a watercolor gradated blue wash on top of the masking fluid

I am starting by a gradated wash of Prussian Blue on the lower corners of the painting. Painting a gradated wash will allow some color variation with only soft edges.

 painting the Lilly pads leaves with watercolor wet into wet and wet on dry techniques

I then start painting the Lilly pads leaves, mixing colors wet into wet inside the leaves and painting a darker outline wet on dry around the leaves, on the part where they touch the water.

mixing different tones of Prussian blue and sap green wet into wet.

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

working on your watercolor one area at a time

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

To paint a complex scene, I often find that just painting section by section will make it more manageable and less overwhelming.

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, just looking at my reference picture and trying to reproduce the colors I see there.

mixing colors directly on my table

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

I am a Blick Art Materials affiliate and I receive a small compensation for sales. That does not effect in any way the cost of the purchaser’s order but it helps me keeping the content of this blog free.

Yarka St. Petersburg Professional Watercolor Pans

Same palette of traditional colors the great masters used a century ago. Liquid-poured means semi-moist pans respond instantly to a wet brush. 24 pans in plastic case. Also individual pans. – Master Set

hard edges on the water reflections that I will soften with a stiff brush and water

I have a lot of hard edges in some of the water reflections, as you can see on picture above. I will soften them later with a bit of water and a stiff brush

painting lily pads and reflections on the water with watercolor

When you take off the masking fluid, you might want to soften some of the hard edges along the areas where the masking fluid was painted. You can do so easily with a stiff brush and a bit of water

splashing with watercolor washes on top of the dry painting

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

splashes and drips on top of the finished watercolor painting

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

painting lily pads and reflections on water with watercolor by North Vancouver artist Sandrine Pelissier

Nymph Echo, watercolor on paper
17 x 29 inches

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

Here is a time lapse video,