Using layers to build value in a watercolor painting

Iain Stewart's video (shown below) shows how to build intense values in watercolor paintings through the use of layers
Iain Stewart’s video (below) shows how to build intense values in watercolor paintings through the use of layers

A lot of people (myself included!) struggle with value when they are just getting started with watercolors. 

When you want to create darker values, it’s tempting to just take paint straight from the tube or the pan with very little water. This shortcut works to a point, but the thickness of the paint somehow seems to dampen the richness and inner glow that watercolors are known for.

I think the real secret to creating radiant dark values in a watercolor painting is to build the color with lots of thin layers. This is something that I have yet to master.

Tonight I was poking around on YouTube and found a great video from watercolorist Iain Stewart that demonstrates how to build a wide range of values into a painting through the use of layers. Of all the videos I’ve seen on building value, this one is probably the most helpful. I think it is because it is a monochromatic painting so you can focus on value without being distracted by color.

I’m definitely going to play around with doing some layered monochromatic paintings this week to see if I can get a better handle on creating lights and darks with watercolors. I hope you find the video as helpful as I did! Also here’s a link to Iain’s YouTube profile so you can check out his other videos, too: https://www.youtube.com/user/iainstew71/videos



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