Daily Watercolour – Mosque, Penang

March 18, 2014

Sticking again to my regime of 5 minutes under-drawing followed by 25 minutes watercolour drawing, my aim today is to practise painting the straight lines inherent in architecture rather more accurately.


Step 1. DRAWING. I’ve paid attention to the straight horizontal and vertical lines. I’ve put this Google photo image up against a window to create a 3.5×5″ drawing, equivalent to an A5, on Arches 185 Smooth watercolor paper. The pigment “stays” on this paper and doesn’t act like the blotting paper of other grades. The hot-pressed/smooth surface of the paper helps retain straight lines, inherent in urban watercolour painting; it’s also a lot more effective for plein air watercolor because I’m not waiting for the ‘blotting paper’ of higher gsm grades to dry.  I’m very conscious in my drawing of the telltale signs associated with perspective, with particular attention to the entrance path and angles on the front iron gates. The characteristic curves of the domes can’t be made too scrappy either. In referring not to the original colour reference photo, but to a grayscale scan instead, I’ve omitted a lot of the fine black line from my drawing because I want to add those details in black (erasable) Frixion pen (aka “sudoku pen”) when I finish painting. Using GIMP, I’ve created a ‘poster-izing” effect (Level 5) which creates approx three different tones (white/gray/black). Watercolor painting is all about exaggerating the lights and darks; reality is mostly gray tones but the painting will only make sense if paper is left blank and the darks are made very dark.

kapitan keling mosque colors posterize level 5

Step 2. PAINTING. I used the same big dinner plate for a palette as yesterday, with no new tube paint added. That means there was some Burnt Sienna and Ultramarine Blue for the darkest darks and the shades of gray came from Quinacridone Yellow, Cadmium Yellow and Permanent Magenta.  I could have done the whole thing, for example, in Payne’s Gray if I wanted a monochromatic sketch.

In the last remaining minutes, I added spots of detail with a black pen.  To recover some of the lost whites, I could have used a white gel pen, but very sparingly of course.

penang mosque watercolorStep 3. ANALYSIS. I’m pleased with the painted straight lines. If this was a 60min or 90min painting, then I can see where a lot of things might be improved, but this is a training exercise for 30mins’ location sketching. I need to erase less with the kneaded rubber at the end of the drawing process because my drawing lines are barely more visible than the very light Tone 2 of my five tones. Symmetry is ultra-important not just in drawing buildings but in watercolor painting; you’ll notice that I got the horizontal wrong between the bottom hinges of the two front gates – firmer ‘dots’ at those extremities and a straight line running along the bottom of the two stone pillars and across the entrance path would have helped.  I was happy with the last-minute blue-grey glaze over the left ground plane but was too tentative about duplicating it on the right. Darkening the ground plane adds to the recessive quality of the building beyond, thus heightening the atmospheric perspective. I guess I was unsure about how much ‘white’ to leave in the entrance path. The grayscale scan of the finished watercolor reveals some faulty observation: the entrance facade is not in fact parallel to the front fence, but at an angle veering to the right. I need too to focus more on hard and soft edges. The discussion of hard and soft edges in the recently-published drawing book by Richard E. Scott has been very useful and I need to apply that skill to watercolour painting.

penang mosque watercolor b&w


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: