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.

Vieux Nice (opus 2)

I complemented Vieux Nice (opus 1) with a particular scene I had in mind.

Pencil sketch on a thick watercolor pad, having delimited the same size as the opus 1 painting:
Masking tape and pencil sketch on a large watercolor pad: street lamp and its shadow on the wall it is mounted on, clothesline and clothes, window blinds.

I mixed orange and crimson for the façade that I applied with a large synthetic brush, and wiped paint with less than more success where the lamp and some clothes needed to be white. I applied some yellow around the window:

For the window blinds I used a mix of turquoise and ultramarine:

While the light blue was drying, I worked with burnt sienna and black on the lamp, and then painted details on the blinds with ultramarine:

I used burnt sienna for the shadows, included that of the clothesline, and black for the clothes in the back and shadow of the window blinds. I added an extra layer of blue for shadows and contrast on the blinds and let that dry:

With more black I finished the shadows between the blinds, corrected the shape of the lamp and added details around it. Then I grabbed a white Posca pen and traced the clotheslines, added white to the top of the lamp, and marked the window sill. I then used white watercolor to paint the white clothes:

Having painted white the glass of the lamp, the painting was finished. Here is it, in a 40×30 cm frame, ready to be given to the same friend to whom I gave opus 1: