In The Studio: Just Paint “Cadmium Dreams”

In today’s lesson I wanted to focus on a  complementary contrast, Cadmium Scarlet and Thalo Yellow Green, and to create unity in the painting by letting the brushwork and curving movement of the shapes dominate.  I think it works pretty well although the subject matter is pretty simple.  Simple shapes give you the opportunity to work out some complicated things.  I really worked on the nice textured brushwork and shape making.  The nice white shape against the the strong reds and yellows really produce a nice sense of focus.  The triangle shape with all of the strong warm reds says look at me.  Along the way we stop and look at all of the other shapes.  DSC_0018



Using a number 16 round I laid in a nice pure wash of cerulean blue, leaving white paper for the indication of clouds.  I immediately painted in the tree forms using raw sienna, cadmium scarlet, new gamboge, and a touch of thalo yellow green to tone it all down.  It will be garish if you just use full strength color.  Remember you want to create a center of interest in this painting it is the triangle shape of the white house.  Don’t confuse the viewer with too much.DSC_0009Using the side of the brush I create a nice curving foreground, leaving a nice textured white shape that is leading to the center of interest.  Don’t make it too hard edged or it will be boring and you will get to the center of interest too fast.  Slow down.

DSC_0010Continuing with the side of the round brush add some hints of thalo yellow green.  Keep thinking movement and good shape.


Scrape out some little straight lines for indication of weeds and trees.  A few will go a long way, try not to go crazy with these scrapes or it will be too much information.DSC_0018Put in a few details using a rigger and value of paint that is just a little darker than the underlying shape.  Too dark and the marks will take over the painting.  The strong contrast of red and green will be enough without a whole lot of details.  Get the shapes right, with movement to the center of interest with exciting colors and there will be little need for lots of details.

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  • MercedesNovember 23, 2013 - 12:36 pm

    Hi Steeve. I was eager for a step-by-step of yours-annotated watercolor with such expertise that characterized you. I learn and rejoice a lot reading your posts. I know some of the things you say, but they are missing in some corner of my brain. I love to read them again. Thank you very much for sharingReplyCancel