Watercolor Reflections and water

Continuing with the Art Tutor class hosted by Rob Dudley, I recently practiced painting water. Which might as well sound weird, painting water with watercolors… or not 😀

Whatever it is, getting reflections right can dramatically enhance a picture’s realism. As far as I could tell so far, the key is to paint reflections slightly darker and with less contrast than the real object (due to refraction some light is absorbed by the water). This of course varies depending on the water’s condition, be it clean or muddy.


watercolor reflections exercise

After several exercises (the one above is the best one really, others were…ugh. I spared you the one color uglies, this is two colors each: lemon yellow + ultramatine, ultramarine + burnet sienna, the same, again lemon, and lastly ultramarine + raw sienna) I went for a complete painting with a limited palette: ultramarine blue + raw sienna + alizarin crimson:

watercolor reflections exercise complete

And then, a choppy sea and boats reflections. The first goal was to get the white sparkles/foam, while the second was getting decent (I won’t dare to say believable for these :D) rippled reflections:

watercolor choppy sea exercise

watercolor boat ripples

Colors are ultramarine only for the boats, ultramarine + phthalo blue for the seas. I also used masking fluid and spattered it all over to get the wavetops in the very first.