1" and 1/4" flat 
#2 liner or rigger
3" Hake

1/4 sheet 300gsm Rough

Phthalo Blue
Ultramarine Blue
Alizarin Crimson
Scarlet Lake
Burnt Sienna
Quinacridone Gold
White Gouache

Burnt Sienna Ink and Pen
Water spray

Painting Materials


Our subject for this demonstration is a beautiful old house looking over Sydney Harbour. In the photograph it looks a little lost, tucked in amongst all the other houses and overpowered by a collection of boats. With this painting we will try and give the house a more mysterious atmosphere by simplifying the composition and using a wash of white Gouache.

Before you start to paint this project take note of the importance of the  areas of white at the water line and to the left of the building in the final image.

Without these the painting would be difficult to look at. Your eye would be locked on the building with no secondary areas of contrast to focus on. Keeping them as non descript abstract shapes makes them much more interesting. They involve the viewer having to interpret them as rocks, buildings, posts or whatever, adding to the mystery of the painting.




Step 1 - Thumbnail Sketches

The first thing to do is work out where to place everything in your painting. A couple of rough little sketches will help with editing and rearranging the information in the photograph.

I have decided to leave out the boats in the foreground, they draw too much attention away from the centre of interest. I will push the house over to the right and move it down closer to the water. There are some palm trees scattered about so I will tuck them in behind the house to establish a nice diagonal band through the painting.

My plan is to loose the top left and bottom right areas with a hazy wash of white gouache. 

Pencil Sketch






Step 2 - First wash

 After loosely drawing the main outlines with a terra cotta pastel pencil, a pale wash of Alizarin Crimson and Quinacridone Gold is worked over the building and surrounding landscape. Very loose and simple at this stage - most of this underpainting will be covered as we work on the painting.


Step 2 painting Demonstration




Step 3 - Roofs and Bushes 
 The roofs are a mixture of Scarlet Lake and Quinacridone Gold with a little Alizarin dropped in on the right hand side of each roof section.

A strong mixture of Burnt Sienna and Phthalo Blue can be washed loosely into the area of bushes. Make sure you soften some of the edges before before this color dries. Aim for a variety of hard and soft around the perimeter of these shapes.

Step 3 Painting Demonstration



Step 4 - Cool Darks

Mix a little Burnt Sienna into some Ultramarine and block in the windows and a shadow in  the top gable. Use your 1/4" brush for the smaller windows and vary the tones slightly.

Back to your 1" brush and dilute this mixture then wash it into the sky behind where the palms will go.

 While this dries, wet the foreground water, then mix up some  Phthalo Blue and Burnt Sienna and drag in the reflections. A little Ultramarine can be dropped in to add interest.

Use the corner of your 1" flat brush and paint the palms once the wash in the sky has dried. 

The Jacaranda color beside the house is a mixture of Alizarin Crimson and Ultramarine Blue.

Step 4 Watercolor Painting Demonstration
  Step 5 - Final Details

Now is the time to put in some loose pen lines. Put down a few lines then, before they dry, spray them with water to feather them out and add some texture to the building.

You can put some bushes in front of the house. A couple of soft Alizarin marks here will help tie the roofs into the painting.

Use your rigger brush to add some more fine detail - tree limbs, window definition, blue and white awning, fence posts and rafter ends.

Some more of the Jacaranda colour can be washed into the left of the sky and into the shadows on the building.


Mix your Gouache on a separate palette or mixing dish and don't allow it to mix with your regular watercolors. It will make them go muddy and opaque.

Step 5 Watercolor Painting Demonstration
  Step 6 - Gouache Wash

The final step is to let everything dry out thoroughly then wet the sky and foreground and put in a big soft wash of white gouache.

Mix the gouache to a creamy consistency and put it on with your 1" brush.

As you paint over the palms and roof try not to stir things up too much. You don't want the colors to dissolve and bleed up through the Gouache. Lay the Gouache on carefully then feather it out gently with your Hake Brush. The aim is to have an even gradation with no visible edge.

Once you are satisfied with the sky, a similar gouach wash can be worked over the bottom right hand corner. The result should be a soft, atmospheric setting for this old house on the waters edge.

Step 6 Watercolor Painting Demonstration



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