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Watercolour Step by Step Demonstrations

'Chiesa di San Moise, Venice

The location for this painting of Chiesa di San Moise, is situated mid way between Academia and St Marks Square and has always attracted me as possible painting subject.

On this particular evening, sunlight was bathing the facade of the church and the figures were reflected in the wet pavement from an earlier shower.



Materials Used:

Paper: 'Arches', 140lb NOT.


'Winsor and Newton' Artist's quality, 14ml tubes in the following colours: Raw Sienna, Cobalt Violet, Cobalt Blue, Cerulean, Ultramarine Blue, Permanent Magenta, Burnt Sienna and Cadmium Red.


Brushes: Nos. 2, 4, 8, 10 Sables.


Masking Fluid

Step 1:

The drawing was undertaken using a 2B pencil.


Next, a few highlights were 'masked out' using 'Rowney' Masking Fluid. These highlights were mainly on the sun struck facade of the church and around selected areas of the buildings on the right, especially around the balconies.


Initial washes using the following pure colours were then prepared:


Cobalt Blue, Cerulean, Cobalt Violet and Raw Sienna.


As usual, it may help to have a weak and strong mix of each. These colours are the basic primaries upon which the entire painting is based.


Further washes of: 

Raw Sienna plus Cobalt Violet (a weak wash),

Raw Sienna plus Burnt Sienna,

Raw Sienna plus Cerulean,

Cobalt Blue plus Permanent Magenta and a touch of Raw Sienna,

Ultramarine Blue plus Burnt Sienna and a touch of Permanent Magenta, Burnt Sienna plus Ultramarine Blue.




Step 2:

The sky area was wet thoroughly and Cobalt Blues and Cerulean added while the paper was still damp.

Mixes of Raw Sienna plus Cerulean and Cobalt Blue, Permanent Magenta and Raw Sienna were added, 'wet in wet' on dry paper to the arched windows and door.

Mixes of Ultramarine Blue, Permanent Magenta plus Burnt Sienna and Burnt Sienna plus Ultramarine Blue were added 'wet in wet' to the shadow areas of the balconies.


The paper was then left to dry completely before the next stage.


Step 3:

The balconies on the right hand side and the building on the left hand side in shadow were painted with the mixes used in Step 2.


Mixes of Raw Sienna plus Burnt Sienna and Burnt Sienna plus Ultramarine Blue were used, 'wet in wet' into the awning.


Mixes of Cadmium Red plus Cobalt Blue were introduced to the flags.


The details on the church facade were painted with mixes of Cobalt Blue plus Permanent Magenta and a touch of Raw Sienna, Cobalt Blue plus Cobalt Violet and Ultramarine Blue plus Burnt Sienna and a touch of Permanent Magenta.


Very pale washes of Raw Sienna plus Cobalt Violet and neat Cerulean Blue were added to the sunlit building faces to break up the white of the paper.


At this stage the masking fluid can be carefully removed. A clean finger is essential for this process and the paper must be thoroughly dry.    

Step 4:

Mixes of:

Cobalt Blue plus Permanent Magenta

Raw Sienna plus Permanent Magenta

Cerulean Blue

Ultramarine Blue plus Permanent Magenta

Burnt Sienna

Were added 'wet into wet' into the figures and foreground paving. 



Step 5:

When the paper was thoroughly dry, the figures were reworked using the same mixes as Step 4.

In places neat fairly thick pigment was used to give additional emphasis to individual faces and clothing.

Further washes were introduced to wet paper to capture reflections on the wet paving.


Final details were added to signs canopies, balconies etc.




(The completed painting)

Chiesa di San Moise, Venice


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