Watercolor Tutorial | How to create a silhouette painting | Rijksmuseum

Watercolor Tutorial | How to create a silhouette painting | Rijksmuseum


Today we’ll show you how to create depth and recession.. by looking closely at this work by Jac van Looy. Hi everyone and welcome to the Rijksmuseum’s very own creative channel: RijksCreative! This season we’ll show you everything you need to know about watercolors.. inks and even blueprints! So grab your brushes and let’s go! This is our teacher for today: Peter.
-Hi And our expert from the Rijksmuseum: Jane Turner.
-Hi You’ve picked out yet another a very small work, Peter. Yes indeed, the size of the original work is not that big. I copied it more or less the same size, but I think for the program I will make a bigger one. And what is so special about this painting? The special thing is, I think the depth that really is clearly shown in here. The lady sitting in front, with the bright strong colors.. and the lady in the back in softer colors, further depth.
Makes it really interesting. What the artist also very interestingly done and you will do yourself. Artists often forget that one of the tools they have at their disposal is the paper itself. Leaving the blank paper, the reserve, creates the highlights in her face.. and helps give you that sense in depth and recession. You’ve done it extremely well in the example and I wish you every succes in doing the big version.
-Thank you very much. Okay, let’s do it! Okay, so first I’m going to make a pencil sketch of course.. to make it somehow clear for myself.. where every element has it’s place on the paper. Just very roughly of course, because it’s not the details… are not really extremely important in this case.. since it will be a watercolor painting with rough brush strokes. So very fine details are not really there. Two sewing ladies, as it is called.
The painting, the originial. What is really interesting about this is that there are people visible, of course, two ladies. As the name says. And there is really very interesting depth in the whole painting. One lady is sitting in front, very clearly. Very defined colors and one is really much smaller and in the back. With ligher colors, light falling on her which is really a beautiful effect. Which I hopefully can show you later on. In fact a very simple composition because it’s not much more than these two ladies: one in the front and one in the back. This sketch is quite important, because when it doesn’t have the right place everything.. you keep on searching and looking and changing all the time which gives you a very unpleasent feeling.. at least me. This sketch should be really rather correct, I think. Some people tend to erase the lines, the pencile lines.. later on in order not to show them in the painting. But I don’t do that, because in fact I really like the lines. When they shine trough the paint, it’s really an interesting extra element I think. So that’s the reason why I don’t erase them in general. The hands, very important and always really quite difficult. The place here is also really important because.. the lady has to look at her hands because she has her sewing work in her hands of course. And so she should look in the right position, and her hands should be in the right position of course. Fortunatly this Jac van Looy, who made this painting.. has drawn the hands very schematicly which is good because otherwise it’s really difficult. Then the color of ther jacket or whatever she’s wearing. And then there is the heart of the chair here, in the back. Okay, the table here. I think the face should be lowered a bit more.. to have the effect that she looks at her sewingwork. That she really looks there. Let me see, I think it is more or less.. And then there is a line along the outlines of the painting. I don’t exactly know why he did this but it is there, so. And so the pencil sketch is more or less how I would like to have it. It shows clearly where every element is. Now I can start using the paint. This is of course watercolor technique. Very rough brush strokes. It’s not very precize. It’s also in general wet on wet technique. Which means that you work with wet paint on other paint that is still wet.. and which gives really interesting effects when the colors blend in each other. like you will see in a moment hopefully. The use of color in this painting is really quite typical for the Dutch 19th century. Rather dark, rather earthen like colors. Not too bright. I don’t see any blue. And a lot of sepia and burned sienna. So the lady in front is more or less like a shadow. Since the light falls not on her, which means that.. the sillouette is showing and it’s rather dark. Which makes her come really to the front. Also the size of course, she’s much bigger then the other one. Interesting thing with this technique is.. you can just take some water on the brush.. without any color and you can use the color that you just put on the paper.. and just smear it out more or less like I’m trying to do now. And of course the cloth, which is indispensible.. and I use it as a kind of eraser here. Okay, time for some ocre I think. But mixed, because otherwise it will be too bright. Bit more water. Let me try to show something of this sleeve down here. Not should it be too dark. So, as you can see to dab. When you dab it off.. and use some more water, you can make the colors ligher.. after you’ve put them on the paper. So a lot of correction is possible afterwardss, which is of course a very good thing. Also with a large brush, that im using it’s very well possible to make really fine lines. Which from time to time you have to do of course to make things really clear.. and sometimes you want to have a line not everything is a surface of color. And for instance here, that’s the thicker one.
Broader one. The head could have been a bit darker on the backside I see. And because the paint here is still wet, it blends in very nicely and really spontanously. In fact I only have to apply it here on the backside.. and then it moves into the rest of the head.
Spontanously. And this should be a bit grayer. And very important here, because there are really bright spot on her face because of the light.. So I should be very careful that I will not fill them in, they have to stay white. Really important. So the white you use, is the white of the paper.
Always. And then some colors around the ladies here.
But not too dark. You use all kinds of really soft colors in the background. Which is beautiful and which also emphasizes the light spots.. where the paper still shines through and gives this effect of the light shining on the persons.. so in fact a a darker background that I’m making now, emphasizes the lightparts that are not covered. Looks rather random, but in the end.. the effect will be really nice. With the brush strokes you can make the suggestion of plies.. in the fabric of the dresses that the ladies are wearing. That’s really nice. Okay, the hands. So it can be really a good idea when you have worked on a certain part.. to go to another part first.. let the paint dry where you started and then get back there later. See how the effect is in the end.. and then you can decide should I do something more there of can I leave it like this. Because it changes when it dries. The color changes, the shape changes a bit. So now I’m working on the hands and the table and later on.. I get back to her face and her dress. Now here I do think I should remove the lines.. because this part.. should be really white.. to give the suggestion of light falling on it. This sleeve down here should be a bit darker. Bit darker here. A bit darker up here to suggest some hairdo. I think, yes like that. Light shining on the lefthand side of the face of the lady in the background. And the ocre here might be a bit too bright. Darker, a bit darker. Okay, so the face of the lady in the front is just a sillouette.. because of the fall of the light, that comes from behind. So not too many details are necessary there. Okay, I think we’re more or less there. This was very helpful Peter, any final tips? I think it would be good idea, like I did just now.. to start with a two-dimensional example, because it’s much easier.. to interpret that instead of three-dimensional objects, you can do that later when you’re more experience. Thank you very much and see you next time!

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