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Rosemary Miller Watercolour Demonstration
7 July 2006

Rosemary, rosemarym-art@tiscali.co.uk, is a member of the Society of Women Artists.

Starting with a fairly detailed pencil drawing and ending with an unfinished painting, this demo resulted in notes on a wealth of little hints rather than a full painting sequence. Many reminded us of things we already knew, but may have forgotten.

As you will see, this text does not correspond directly with the photo's but they are in sequence.
Rosemary Miller 
Rosemary limits her palette to about 5 bright colours (all of which must be transparent since she paints in many thin washes) plus a few more opaque ones like cerulean blue and cobalt violet.

Artists' colours have more pigment, which means they have less filler and so don't leave the chalky effect you can get with many coats of students' colours. She doesn't buy (opaque) cadmium or earth colours.

She makes all her greens and earth-like colours. Over-bright areas can be dulled with a thin wash of the comlementary colour.
For fine highlights she usually prefers masking fluid (applied after the first wash has dried) to white acrylic ink (applied at the end).

If you're working from a photo, do a tonal sketch first and paint from that.

She started very wet with yellow in the centre, warmed with red further out and then cooled with blue towards the edges and in what were to be shadow areas.

There were many runs but since everything was thin and wet everything merged beautifully (runs are good when you have reflections in water).
Paint object and reflection at the same time. Details are only hinted at originally, although some lines may be firmly established.

Make sure paint is totally dry before putting more over it.

Keep the real watercolour transparency by confidently applying and leaving each wash. No going back to adjust it - that's for the next wash. If it's really wrong it can be dabbed off immediately (or even left to dry if it is early enough).
See demos in different media, to see what might suit you.

Use an easel, so you can step back to look at the work.

Here's a novel one! When starting a large area, mix only a small amount of the colour you want but note which (preferably only two) basic colours you used. Apply this and then pick up the constituent colours and mix them wet-into-wet on the paper - avoids boring flatness.
Experiment to find what suits you. Learn all about your set of colours - if you use too many you'll get mud.

Try different papers to see what suits your way of working (don't be snobbish about Bockingford, for example).

Shadows are interesting. Put in lots of details before putting the shadow wash over them.

Use the side of the brush as well as the tip.
Remember that more-watery paint cauliflowers into less-watery.

The order of colour washes affects the result - try it (e.g. a yellow/red under-wash gives a lovely wintery glow).

If you don't want a hard edge dampen the area first or lift the wet edge out with a dry brush.

Pencil a frame on the paper but work out over it so the final painting doesn't show brush-stokes ending near the edge. See here how much has been masked by the frame.
This image of the finished picture was provided by Rosemary after she had worked on it further in her studio. It looks to have been taken under different lighting conditions. Memory is deceiving but I thought that the colour balance of the set taken during the demo was pretty good. You might have to buy the picture to see what colour it really is!

Final version

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