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Waterbrush: Two Demonstrations

The Waterbrush: Two Subjects and Two Demonstrations in Using the Waterbrush by Brenda Swenson

I have been painting and sketching on location for over 10 years. Most of the time I am able to use my regular supplies but there are occasions when I have to scale down to the most bare essentials. This is when the waterbrush is the best thing around! I've been known to sketch in some pretty funny places and being able to keep my watercolor supplies extremely compact becomes a necessity. I can hear you asking where these places might be. I am one of a few artists that has been allowed to sketch inside a Rose Parade Float building site. To get a good view and stay out from under foot I'm known to climb up scaffolding to get a better view. This can be as high as 14 foot and when I get there I only have a narrow board to perch my self on. No room for extra supplies up here! I am also known to sketch at grocery stores on days when it is to hot or to wet to be outside. Have you ever really looked at the displays in the produce department? A local store has the most artistic displays using galvanized steel containers and terra cotta pots to put the fruit and vegetables in. Other wonderful places to find inspiration for sketching can be plant nurseries, coffee shops and a favorite of mine the L.A. Zoo. What follows are two examples of the extensive possibilities using minimal watercolor supplies and your waterbrush.

Pasadena City Hall Demonstration Step 1 With permanent pen (sepia color) I made a minimal drawing, leaving some lines open and broken throughout to keep it loose in appearance.

Step 2 Starting at the top I wet the paper around the building with the waterbrush, squeezing out just enough water to dampen the paper for a light wash of color. I used the waterbrush to charge cobalt & ultramarine blue mixture into the sky; then brought it down and into the right side of the building that is in shadow. Before it had a chance to dry, I introduced a yellow ochre into the palm trees. In a light value of ochre and manganese I suggest the greenery, and the lower arches of the building.

Step 3 I darkened the right side of the building that is in shadow with glazes of cobalt blue and burnt sienna. I introduced the same colors into the sunny side of the building under the overhangs and around the pillars. I wanted to reduce the moisture to gain more control of the waterbrush, so I wiped it on a towel before dipping into the scarlet lake. I then charged this color into the already wet area of the overhangs for a wonderful glow. Using manganese blue, ochre and burnt sienna I suggested the palm fronds and added a touch of orange in the center before the mixture

Step 4 In the final stage, I painted my favorite part of Pasadena City Hall, the beautiful red tile dome. I painted the entire dome with scarlet lake and after wiping off the brush to control moisture, I added burnt sienna to the right side to push the dome back into the shadow. Then I added the darkest passages of color inside the arches of the building in the foreground, and around the small trim details.

Pasadena City Hall in my sketchbook and supplies used.

Giraffe Watercolor Demonstration Waterbrush Basics With a water soluble pen a line can be moved and softened easily with the waterbrush.

Step 1 The giraffe is drawn simply with pen (sepia color) to show form with little detail.

Step 2 I can run the tip of the waterbrush along the edge of the line and pull some of the color into the figure; this will create form and shape with a value change. I wipe off the brush with a towel to remove color when I want to fade out an area. When the paper is dry, you can add final details with the pen.

Close up of Giraffe

Sketchbook page from recent trip to L.A. Zoo

Materials List


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