Submitted by:Róisín Curé, Artist from Ireland Title of Lesson: Forge An Old Master! Grade level: Age 9-adult Goals / Objectives:
There are two aims in this lesson; to improve drawing production and to get used to the properties of watercolour. The former is achieved by various means to encourage good observation, and to draw without questioning what you are drawing.
This watercolour lesson is aimed at the beginner and takes the student through many properties of watercolour and how to use them, via a step-by-step lesson that has been successfully carried out by children as young as eight and nine years old.
This lesson is suitable for anyone from the age of eight upwards, and I have used it with my adult students as well as young children and everything in between.
It uses the art of Ukiyoe (Japanese woodblock prints) as a means to introduce some very basic but invaluable drawing and watercolour techniques that can be used in all kinds of other applications, from sketching "in the field" to personal design projects.
The reason the subjects in the prints are suitable is that the lines and shapes are very simple, and the colours are flat, with no toned or highlighted areas. They are also very attractive and in the public domain.
By copying these prints using watercolour, you'll learn a lot more than line and observation. You'll learn about how to handle watercolour in a really accessible way. In this step-by-step demonstration, I'll show you lots of aspects of using watercolour that you will put to good use in all kinds of other situations, for example when sketching in an urban setting, painting a botanical or still life subject, or just enjoying making a greeting card or gift for someone.
You may see this as painting by numbers. You'd be right. But please remember that you can learn a huge amount in the studio, gaining knowledge that you can take into the field when you are sketching. All this practice will make those fleeting shadows, those moving people, so much easier to capture in “real" life. Think of it this way: there is so much to learn when you are drawing or painting that it is imperative that as much knowledge as possible should be second nature to you, and in-studio practice, and copying the masters, is a great way to get this knowledge.
In this tutorial, you'll learn:
• How to layer your watercolour so that you end up with bright, vibrant colour.
• What to do if you make a mistake.
• How to be confident with the watercolour, as you'll find that the colour will dry much lighter than it
looks when it goes on.
• How to mix your colours.
• How to achieve a flat surface without visible brush strokes.
Let's get down to business
You may either print the line drawing onto a sheet of regular A4 paper, which you'll then draw onto a sheet of watercolour paper, or you can skip the drawing stage and print it directly onto a sheet of watercolour paper..
If you choose to draw it yourself onto watercolour paper, here are a few tips:
The best way to do this accurately and quickly is to turn the image upside down, start at the “top" (ie. the bottom of the image) and work your way down, slowly and surely. This works because you don't know what you are seeing. If you try to do this with a coloured image, it won't be as effective, because the colours will give the game away, so to speak. I've done this in class with children as young as eight years old, and they can produce a very faithful imitation of what is quite a complex set of lines. I've also done it with adults and the only difference between them and the children is that they wonder why they are doing it – but please just trust me when I say that it will improve your drawing and painting skills... and that you'll enjoy yourself.
You needn't paint the image upside down, it's only for the drawing stage that it helps.
A few things to remember:
• These drawings are in portrait format. Orientate your paper so that it's the same.
• Keep your pencil very sharp at all times.
• Use a 2B or 3B pencil at most.
• I always keep my line drawings in a clear pocket to keep them in good condition.
• Draw what you see. Don't try to second-guess what it is that you are drawing.
• Watch out for accuracy: make sure the points and marks you make are along the right plane with
respect to each other. A good short-cut is to cover the area with a sheet of plain paper so that you can
only see a bit at a time.
• Remember to lean lightly with your pencil: if you make a mistake, you won't be able to remove a
line which you've gouged into the paper.
• Watch your verticals and horizontals (and everything else) – make sure all your lines are oriented
• The bits that you'll notice if they go a bit awry will be features like eyes, nose and mouth. Try to forget you're drawing things you recognize and concentrate on getting the placing right.
• I draw subtle shapes with a pencil outline – you won't see them when everything is done and it's much softer than a pen and ink line. Japanese kimonos often have beautiful patterns on them which
are great fun to paint, but it's up to you whether you want to draw them in pen or pencil.
I went over the pencil lines with a brush pen containing black waterproof ink, simply because I seem to be pathologically incapable of drawing without one. But by all means stick with pencil, or a fine fountain pen if you like – just remember you'll need waterproof ink.
1. Whether you've drawn the patterns on the kimono in pencil or waterproof ink, paint around them in a mix of Permanent Carmine and Chrome Orange. I painted the stripes in the same mix, with a bit more Permanent Carmine this time.
2. Make a wash for the background colour., always remembering that the lightest colours go on first. I used Yellow Ochre with a touch of Cobalt Green Dark and an even smaller touch of Burnt Sienna. You must paint swiftly: it's important never to apply extra paint when the paint is half-dry, but only when soaking wet or completely dry. It sounds complicated and it does take a bit of getting used to, but you will get used to it. I'm drawing attention to a bit of a blob I made here – that's because I let an area get a little bit dry before adding the next bit. I also didn't take the paint to the edge fully – difficult to rectify afterwards, so always paint a bit further out than you think you'll need.
3. It doesn't matter at all if you stray over the edge into an area that will end up being considerably darker – the lighter colour won't be seen.
I painted the kimono in a yellow ochre wash. Just use one brush stroke for each bit of paper you want to cover: more, and you'll end up with visible brush lines when it's dry – or worse, you might start dissolving the paper.
1. It's time to add the first layer of the hair colour. I use Payne's Grey, which is a lovely dark shade of blue- grey with none of the flatness of black. It's a great substitute for black, and infinitely nicer in my opinion, but this will only become clear when you've put on a few layers.
2. I decided I wasn't mad about the background colour I chose, so I made a second wash, this time with more Cobalt Green Dark. Remember only to apply it when the first layer is bone dry – and remember to paint swiftly.
3. At this stage I painted the background in the mirror using a mix of Burnt Sienna, Yellow Ochre and a tiny touch of Cobalt Green Dark. I also painted the lighter stripes, with a mix of Yellow Ochre and a tiny bit of Cobalt Green Dark. I gave the red stripes, and the hair ribbon, a second layer of Permanent Carmine / Chrome Orange mix.
4. I painted in the delicate patterns on the shapes on the kimono. I used a finer brush for this, but you should always use the fattest brush you can, and always make sure it has a nice point, which means you can still do delicate work with a larger brush.
That's the end of this free watercolour lesson, using Japanese woodblock prints as inspiration. I hope you've learned something and please feel free to ask me any questions in the Comments section under my web article. I'll do my best to answer you as well as I can.
Don't forget to send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org including your name and we will then invite you to upload your painting to our Utamaro Forgery shared Pinterest board, so that you can see yours and other paintings. You can also vote on which great artist we should forge next in the web article - We will leave the poll open for a few weeks.
If you want to continue and do two more beautiful Utamaro lessons, why don't you download the full lesson? This is available from the web store on roisincure.com. The download costs only a couple of dollars and I will show you how to paint these:-