Thursday, September 15, 2011

Watercolours - Painting a Wallaby

This watercolour of a wallaby was painted with a few different techniques to achieve the different textures of soft fur, as seen in shadow and light. The reference photo was taken in bright light, which is why the contrast is so sharp, in places. The sharp line of the dark shadow, on the neck, is an example of the effects of this type of light. The bright, white highlights of the legs and the very dark features of the shadowed face are, also, suggestive of bright sunlight. Observing the sun, at midday, when the sun is high in the sky, and comparing the effects with the long shadows of the late afternoon, will bring some understanding as to how a subject changes in different lights.

I began painting the wallaby with wet paint on a dry surface. To achieve the effect of softness, I applied the next colour straight onto the wet surface, without waiting for the previous layer to dry. This wet-on-wet technique creates a diffused look with soft edges. It is a useful method for painting skies and fur.

I, then, waited for the paint to dry, before applying drier pigment to the now-dry surface. This allowed me to render the details of short, rough fur, in patches where the individual tufts of fur are more apparent. Though some amount of detail is effective here, it is important not to overdo it, or a messy, unattractive picture will be the result.

I started with quite diluted paint for the initial washes and added less water to the pigment, with each subsequent layer - I worked from light to dark tones. I used a good quality, sable brush with a sharp point. I chose a thicker, quality brush with a sharp point, rather than a thin brush, because it will hold more paint and keep its shape better. A poor quality brush is likely to drop hairs onto the painting and will not hold the paint or its shape as well. It will be harder to paint fine details with this type of brush.

The picture below shows my progress with the newborn portrait. The photo was taken in fading light, so it is a bit grainy and faded - a consequence of taking my pictures at the end of the day's work! The clothes need some sharpening of the deepest shadows, and some reflected blues, lavender and beige worked into them. After that, I will deepen the shadows on the faces, before moving onto the final arm. The end is now definitely in sight!


  1. Vicky,
    That wallaby looks as if I could reach out and touch it!

    The Newborn Portrait is beautiful. I knew it would be.

  2. The wallaby is beautiful. Not that I'm in love with any large hopping creatures at this second (looking at the crumpled car in the driveway) but it looks so good in watercolour.

  3. Thank you so much for your encouraging comment, Mary. It really does help to have feedback.

    I love the poetry on your blog - it is like a beautiful picture in words:)

  4. It's such a shame about the car, Immy. I can quite imagine why kangaroos and wallabies aren't your favourite animals, right now! But, thank you for your lovely comment, anyway - I do appreciate your responses to my work. xx


Thank you for reading my blog. I appreciate your comments and feedback. Vicky