Watercolor Techniques : Re-Learning and Perfecting a New Medium (Part Three)

Photo Credit: J.H. Winter
Trying Again – Photo Credit: J.H. Winter

Once I had stopped to think about where I’d gone wrong in my watercolor painting (see Part 1 and Part 2 of series), I tried to think up what I should try next.

Starting up watercolor painting again, after having been away from it for so many years, I felt like I had lost my knowledge of how to use the medium. The techniques I needed to be successful in watercolor were failing me now. I decided, I was starting too big.

I was starting on an illustration that was important to me.

I needed to backtrack. Working at the library, I had a wealth of resources around me. I grabbed some watercolor painting books and started thumbing through them to see other artist’s work.

A couple of paintings stood out to me that showed step-by-step instructions on how to make them. With Mother’s Day coming up (2015), I had my mom in mind as the recipient of the paintings. Not too much pressure, but enough to want them to come out nice.

The two characters I’d selected to paint were a fox and a turtle (two of her favorite animals). I started with the turtle and followed the painter’s work exactly. I tried to match up the colors as best as I could. I didn’t skip any steps, and at the end, I was pleased with the work I had done.

“Watercolour for the Absolute Beginner” by Alwyn Crawshaw, Sharon Finmark, and Trevor Waugh


Next up, I worked on the fox painting. This one didn’t have any background to it, so I decided to get a little bit creative and create a spring scene where the fox was standing amongst cherry blossom trees. For the fox, once again, I never strayed from the coloration that they had selected in the book. I wanted to make sure I could recreate the colors that I saw in an image.

fox-watercolorThe reason for this is that, many of my illustrations have elements that are true to life. In my underwater painting, I was over on Google Images many times looking up various corals and anemones to see the variety of colors they come in. Google is a great reference for when I am ready to go back to the black and white illustration and add in color. If I could match the colors for the watercolor illustrations, I could later do the same when using real life imagery for color ideas.

Fox Painting Complete with Background
Fox Painting Complete with Background

When the fox painting was finished, I felt pleased with my work a second time. My confidence was beginning to return to me, and I was enjoying the use of the medium once more. I am a huge admirer of watercolor painters, especially when it comes to illustrations for kids. They are always vibrant and full of life, but with a softness to the edges that this medium is perfect for.

While I hone my skills at watercolor, my original project that I was having difficulties with “Learning to Swim” needed to be finished, as it was another gift for my mom. I decided to go with the medium I am most familiar with and ended up coloring the picture using Prismacolor pencils with the beginning outlines done in ink. Here is the finished illustration.

"Learning to Swim" by J.H. Winter
“Learning to Swim” by J.H. Winter

I will continue to post my watercolor work as I create it and look forward to sharing more in this series of posts as I learn and perfect my technique using this medium.

Do you have a favorite watercolor artist? Perhaps a favorite painting that was done using this medium? I would love to hear your thoughts in the comments below!

2 thoughts on “Watercolor Techniques : Re-Learning and Perfecting a New Medium (Part Three)”

  1. Great job on the turtle and fox watercolors! They look just like the pictures in the book. I love how watercolors look so I’m really enjoying this series! There are so many childrens books that have watercolor illustrations that I really like, and I found these watercolor florals by Jen Garrido that I think are so pretty: http://jenniferjennyjenjen.bigcartel.com/
    Can’t wait to see what you do next!

    1. Thank you, Jackie! Beautiful watercolor florals on that website. Thank you for sharing! I can’t wait to work on the illustrations for my book in watercolor! I really think the medium will capture the feel I want for the story.

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