Thursday, July 22, 2010

Cowboy Demo 2 --- And Now We Paint!

     So, we’ve made it to Day 2.  I hope the condensed drawing information has been at least an interesting introduction to measuring your drawing.  If it was a complete success, don’t start flying too high, yet.  Watercolor loves to ground flying machines.
     Let’s press on….. Today we begin by establishing some of the darkest darks of our drawing.  I find this helpful in retaining some of the important parts of my drawing.

     Paint Layer #1 -- Let’s start with a puddle of Ultramarine Blue and Alizarin Crimson.  I mix these two at about 60% Ultramarine Blue and 40% Alizarin Crimson.  But 50/50 will work, so don’t fret about paint mixture percentages.
     With this mixture I go in and re-state some of my main features and nail down important parts of my drawing.  My paint consistency at this point (water + paint) is about like coffee.  According to Joseph Zbukvic, with watercolor, consistency ranges from tea on the thin side, to coffee (a little thicker), then progresses to milk (thicker still), then to cream, and finally butter.  Zbukvic says “Don’t confuse the color of tea, milk or butter with their relative consistency…”.  We’re concerned with thickness, not color.  Zbukvic’s book is titled "Mastering Atmosphere & Mood in Watercolor."  I highly recommend it.

     Here is my painting after I have completed the first application of paint.
 Let your first layer of paint dry completely. (I hit mine with a hair dryer).

     Paint Layer #2. – I start my next paint layer with a mixture of  90% Indian Yellow and 10% Burnt Sienna.  This wash will go over the entire face.  This means everything!  We will preserve the hat and wild rag and deal with them as separate items.
     So we wind up Day 2 with our painting looking something like this:

     Until tomorrow…… and check out my new video on youtube.  Just enter “mark kohler studio” in the youtube search window.  Hope you enjoy it!

All content and images © Mark Kohler Studio. 


  1. This is amazing! Personal instruction from one of the best! I would love to see a few of the paintings from the people following your instruction. This is a great blog!!!!

  2. Would you still start with the purple underpainting on a woman or a child? I recently watched a watercolor demo DVD of a child's portrait where the artist started with an underpainting of light and dark shades of yellow, and still ended up with nicely stated forms and definition of features.

  3. Just saw your new video on youtube, it moved me beyond. Don't laugh, it brought tears to my eyes. Thanks for continuing to inspire us all.

  4. Rob, the purple wash is for the darkest darks and crevices and creases. You have to be very careful about getting purple into warm yellow areas. Purple and yellow are complimentary, but mixing them makes a neutral. So, to answer your question, I would not use purple on a child or a woman's face. Generally, cowboys have hard features and lots of lines and creases....hence, the purple.

  5. What color layers would you use to paint an African American male with a pretty dark complexion?

  6. This is one of the most difficult flesh tones to paint with watercolor, but everyone from Winslow Homer to Stephen Scott Young and Dean Mitchell have all done wonderful paintings. I've got that info in my mounds of research material, and will pull it together for you for our workshop.