|"Kaena Point Sunset"|
The following is the wrap-up of the "Painting Sunsets in Watercolor" workshop I taught this weekend at the Art League School in Alexandria, VA.
It has been a great pleasure to have you in my sunset workshop. I hope you learned something to help you in your watercolor journey. Some of you were not familiar with the wet-on-wet variegated wash or painting in layers. But it is generally why we take workshops: to broaden the horizon and try something new. You guys were awesome!
Things to take away? Sunsets are all about the yellow and orange glows and we have to preserve that glow to paint a successful sunset.
Blues and purples are present often in sunsets. Since oranges and yellows are complimentary colors of blues and purples, if we paint them at the same time, they will mix on their own on the wet paper and result in mud. Hence, we must separate them in layers!
Each time when you wet the paper for the wet-on-wet technique, which helps us to apply paint smoothly without leaving hard edges (and sky, water, and many other things are all about softness), you have to wet the paper thoroughly. And you have to use good paper (we used Arches 140 lb cold press paper)!
Each time when we start the next layer, the paper has to be bone dry! Otherwise you risk stirring up the previous layer(s). If you do this right, you can repeat the process until you can't take it anymore. Lol. You can also wet only part of the paper (sky, water, etc.) depending on your purpose.
We don't always repeat the variegated wash in multiple layers. As I have shown some examples, I sometimes get it done in one or two layers. So don't think what we did is the norm. It depends!
The reason why repeated the yellow, red orange, and blue layers twice is this: it's better to go gentle and layer than go too strong and do oops. In watercolor, removing paints is much much harder than adding more paints in layers. Go easy and go slow! Patience is the most important virtue in watercolor.
So the end result should be vibrant yellow, red orange and blue. Some of you needed to strengthen blues, right?
When you are satisfied, paint the land shape, tree, boats, or whatever. Hard edges are introduced at this stage and we often paint on dry paper. Darks must be dark enough!
Values are the most important thing in a painting in any medium. If you are plagued by the feeling that your project is not going well, take the picture of your work-in-progress and desaturate the picture using your phone picture editor. You will see your problems right away!