Just Before Sunset Watercolor Demo – Step 2

When teaching watercolor, I’ve had students, well into their paintings, abruptly call me over in a panic to ask, “What color should I use now?” Or, “I forgot to…?” Or, “Is it too late to…?’ 

These types of questions usually precipitate a less than satisfactory end result and more often than not, a frustrated, discouraged watercolorist.

This demonstration, will show the benefits of a limited palette and a well thought-out plan before paint is applied to paper.

Just Before Sunset was painted using a traditional watercolor approach of going from light to dark with a split-complimentary color theme. The four American Journey pigments used were: new gamboge, ultramarine violet, cadmium orange and hooker’s green. I also used kolinsky sable brushes and a 7×10, 140 lb. Arches CP block.

I made a black and white photo to help me see value ranges. The image has been traced onto tracing paper and transferred onto the watercolor block.

I’ve painted around the pitcher and the pumpkin with water and put in light-valued washes of new gamboge and ultramarine violet. Because the paper is wet before the paint is put in, the edges are soft and the surface dries to an interesting granulated texture.

Using the same two pigments, I painted the pitcher. I used the wet onto dry method because I wanted a high gloss look; symbolizing shiny, smooth ceramic, which is quite different from textured, draped cloth.

To put order into color relationships

 is to put order into your ideas.


–Henri Matisse


One thought on “Just Before Sunset Watercolor Demo – Step 2

  1. Hi June,

    You are a great teacher! Your humor and careful attention to subject and your students makes a class with you a real treat. I loved learning about alcohol ink dreamscapes too.

    June W.

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