Beginning a Painting in Gouache

Beginning a painting in gouache curlew
Beginning a painting in gouache. The mountains, grass and other elements are in place but not refined.

Beginning a Painting in Gouache – This is the first part of a continuing series documenting the development of my gouache painting, Far Eastern Curlew Wading In A Stream In Siberia. This painting features Far Eastern Curlews (birds) and a mountainous Siberian landscape. It initially began as a rough sketch. After painting with acrylic paint for years, I recently made the switch to gouache paint. Having not painted landscapes, trees or grass with gouache, I made what had intended to be a practice sketch. I don’t usually photograph practice sketches or monitor their progress.

The result of this practice painting had turned out much better than I anticipated. When I saw that this painting had potential, I decided to start photographing the progress. Having a great love for all things Siberia (mountains, rivers, wildlife) I composed a typical Siberian landscape with a Far Eastern Curlew (bird) wading in a stream. The Far Eastern Curlew is a wading bird native to eastern Russia and parts of China. The paper is 18″ X 24″ Strathmore 400 Series watercolor paper. If you look closely at the edges, you can see clear packing tape holding the edges to my drawing table to minimize warping. At this stage of progress, the stream is finished and most of the grass. The mountains and trees still need work. I will document that portion of work on the painting in the next post.

‘He Turneth Rivers Into A Wilderness’ – Using a crow quill pen and a Rapidograph

He Turneth Rivers Into A Wilderness – In this post, I’ll explain a general step by step for creating the pen & ink and watercolor artwork, ‘Turneth Rivers Into A Wilderness’. The paper that was used for this project was Strathmore’s 18″ X 24″ 400 series Watercolor paper. After sketching out the celtic border, and the composition of the scene using a 2H pencil and a kneaded eraser, I determine a width for the border. From there I begin drawing the knotwork while trying to find a pattern that will enhance the landscape. The ‘knots’ need to be properly spaced vertically and horizontally so they fit together like a puzzle. Using a 1.20mm Koh-I-Noor Rapidograph pen, circle template and french curve, I draw and ink the border. Unlike painting, I always ink the celtic border first. When I am painting with gouache, I paint the border last.

He Turneth Rivers Into A Wilderness - 1.20mm Koh-I-Noor Rapidograph

Always use only Koh-I-Noor inks for your Rapidograph pen. Once the celtic border is inked, I continue the pencil drawing of the composition, adding more detail. Once the pencil drawing is complete, I begin the ink drawing using a crow quill pen with india ink. Pictured below is the crow quill pen I’ve been using since 1980. It is a Koh-I-Noor No. 127 ‘Made in Germany’ nib holder. The nib I use is a Speedball 22B.

He Turneth Rivers Into A Wilderness - Koh-I-Noor No.127 Crow Quill Pen Holder Nib holder

He Turneth Rivers Into A Wilderness - pencil sketch and ink drawing

The drawing of the landscape is always inked using a crow quill pen because you can make your lines with various line widths. More pressure will give you a thicker line while less pressure will give you a thinner line. I only use the Rapidograph for the border and the crow quill for drawing the landscape or composition. Once both the pencil drawing and the border have been inked, I begin adding the watercolor. For this project, I used Windsor & Newton watercolor pigments. For brushes I use Robert Simmons White Sable Rounds, sizes 2, 4 and 6. The title of this painting is based on Bible scripture from Psalms 107:33, ‘He Turneth Rivers Into A Wilderness…’. And here is the finished artwork:

He Turneth Rivers Into A Wilderness - Finished Pen and ink drawing with watercolor artwork

A link to my wildlife paintings page.