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Borage at Bledlow – How-to guide

Borage at Bledlow – How-to guide

I have often been asked about the textures and effects I use in my watercolour paintings, so I have made this how to guide to illustrate the use of  Art Masking Fluid or Drawing Gum in multi-layers in a landscape painting.

LANDSCAPE – Borage at Bledlow – Step by Step

I always stretch my paper especially for larger works where I know I will be using very wet-in-wet washes in different layers and multiple masking. This painting is on Arches 300 gm watercolour paper with a usable area of 72 x 50 cm. I usually work flat on a tilt-able draughtsman’s desk to be able to control the flow of washes.

Once the paper is stretched and thoroughly dry I draw out the scene in pencil, in greater or lesser detail depending on the complexity or simplicity of the painting and the style an effect I require in the finished work.

  1. Initial pencil drawing on pre-stretched Arches watercolour paper.
  2. Masking fluid is applied to preserve all white areas of the foreground and the ‘cross’ on the distant hills.
    I use what we used to call a ‘ruling pen’ which can be adjusted for different widths of line, a very fine line can be achieved by slightly thinning the masking fluid with distilled or bottled still water. The side of the pen can be used to make larger marks or blobs, with some experimentation many different marks are possible.
  3. The first loose washes were then applied, wet-in-wet to the sky, middle distance and borage fields. The purple of the borage is allowed to drift downwards by spraying water on the lower edge
  4. Additional masking fluid is applied to the front and middle of the nearest borage field and the under-painting of the distant hills painted in with a hard edge against the now dry sky.
  5. Various washes of greens are laid down, wet -in-wet on the foreground over the purple and darker shadows flicked and splashed onto the damp green surface, to indicate the vegetation in the lower part.
  6. Close up of foreground with masking
  7. Removing masking with rubber made from blob of solidified masking fluid to allow the purple flowers at the front to emerge from the dark green washes.
  8. Detail developed in middle distance, far distance and foreground, previously masked grass and Cow Parsley stalks coloured up.
  9. Finished painting – ‘Borage Fields at Bledlow’.
    (This painting is on permanent display, along with thirteen other of my paintings, at Stoke Mandeville Hospital, Bucks.)