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  • Writer's pictureDanny McShane

"One Touch" Watercolour

The Skandi Kvitsøy entering Aberdeen.

I find Imperial sized watercolour challenging and revisit it now and again to remind myself why I prefer Half Imperial. Along the way this time I took some photos to illustrate the 'one touch' approach I try to adopt - the aim is to paint everything once to its finished state first time with minimum brush contact - without layers or glazes (except for some shadows). It's a quicker method, and suits plein air, but the main reason is to preserve the brightness of the paper through transparent washes, delivering a fresh, almost illuminated look to the work. That's the ideal, but no 'rules' remain entirely unbroken. Anyhoo....

16:15-17:15. I outline sketched in 4B water soluble pencil, then painted the Skandi Kvitsøy- she and her sister ship the Fernstein are the ones with teeth.... at this point I'm unhappy about the 'clear blue sky' but I'll wash it out later. Too many edges to cut round and the sheer size of the paper gets the better of me.

.17:15-17:30 ...On with the Round House that used to be Aberdeen harbour control tower but was replaced by a new one just out of shot.

17:30-17:45 On a whim I decided to put a seated figure in the foreground (wish I hadn't! -but that's whims for you). There's a historic Capture Jetty (catches waves that would roll along the breakwater into the harbour) sticks out into the channel so I painted that too. And the surf line of the ship.

17:45 - 18:15 Added lower building detail, the Quayside's three paving surfaces, the water, and some shadows. Then let it dry for an hour (and had my tea).

19:15-20:15 After tea, add Railings, reflections, figures, final shadows, and fiddly details; wash out the sky a bit and stop while I'm wondering what to do next (which is usually my cue to stop altogether).

So, that's it. Plenty that could be fixed, repainted, gone over or added -but I like the 'fresh, happy, loose, 'slightly careless, anyone could do it' look that results from this process when it works. :o) Watercolour, Imperial (30x22") Bockingford 200lb

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