Art: Japanese river scene (step by step)

I tested acrylic gouache. They are similar to regular gouache, and even watercolour, except that they dry much quicker and once they’re dry they can’t mix anymore.

It’s both an advantage and a challenge! An advantage because you can layer other colours without any smearing. A challenge because the error margin is much narrower: if you don’t get it right the first time your mistake has to be worked around.

This is a river scene with two persons using long poles to maneuver their boats, and passing next to patches of grass where trees like willows are growing. It must be the start of autumn because the trees are bare but there is still grass. A few huts are visible on the horizon. There is a big orange setting sun, and grey and orange clouds.

Framed in black, 10×15 cm (4×6 in.) [and since then sent to my friend Isabelle for whom I painted it.]

Rough pencil sketch

Grey, blue and orange in the sky, including dark orange for the sun; and blue for the river

Transparent blue, grey, and orange.

This looks and feels just like watercolour.

I added patches of pale yellow where the huts are, the men's hats and the front and back of the larger boat.

A bit more colours in small areas: specks of grey and blue-grey to add vegetation in the background, and yellow for the huts, boats and the hats.

Brown and black added for the trees, the boats, the men and their poles. Green added for the grass.

The green is now added to the meadow and another darker layer for shading. Brown and black for the trees, boats, men and their poles.

I realised this was going to lack a lot of contrast. The colours are much paler than I thought.

Thin black lines for the reed, and various outlines

I added many thin black lines in ink to try to make up for the lack of contrast.

I added my stamp, dated and signed.

Stamped, dated and signed.

Finished piece, in a little black wood frame with a white mounting card.
Finished piece, in a little black wood frame with a white mounting card.