Fog exercise 1: #1

This is the next exercise in Ron Hazell’s Painting Water with Watercolor.

This exercise is supposed to tech me about painting fog. Unfortunately, I don’t think I quite captured the effect. I want the wharf and the houses and boat to be more obscured by the fog – which I think could be achieved by painting a more intense wash of the fog colors at first. I want to be a good student though, so I tried to follow Ron’s instructions – though I made a few pretty critical mistakes.

I started with value studies again. To be honest, I’m at the point where I want to be done with this book so I can move on to something else. The last chapters are the most interesting to me, so I don’t want to stop going through this book, but I admit I rushed a bit through this one.

After I did two value studies, I sketched the major shapes, and then laid the primary wash. All of the videos and books I’ve read say that watercolors dry 30% lighter, but I haven’t found that to be the case with these Daniel Smith pigments – so I photographed this wash wet, and dry to see the difference.

Here’s a gif of the wet vs dry wash. You can see the Ultramarine and Burnt Sienna don’t change much as they dry, but the Prussian Blue on the bottom changes quite a bit.

Once the initial washes were done, I painted in the big shapes. I think all of these initial shapes (minus the rocks) should have been painted with more Ultramarine in order to make them appear obscured by the fog.

This is my painting before I painted the reflections in the water.
This is what it’s supposed to look like. My structures are a whole lot smaller, which might be why I feel they should be more obscured by the fog.

I think my painting looks a bit cartoonish, and I’m really not a fan of the colors I used on the wharf – it just feels very amateurish.

I also lifted the structures in the background, but again they didn’t lift as easily as I hoped. I think this ultramarine is definitely more heavily staining than the one Ron uses.

Once I was done with those shapes, I added some ripples using Ron’s technique for painting ripples water. The more I do this, the better I understand how it works, and the better my results. Of everything I’ve learned so far, this technique is probably my favorite.

Feathering those ripples with a bone dry brush turns out to be the magic step in making these work.

After the ripples were dry, I painted the reflections. Boy did I struggle here. The trick with the reflections seems to be to just paint them with confidence. One confident wayward stroke is much more believable, and more interesting than a few layers of carefully placed strokes. I also screwed up the reflection on the mast of the ship – that should be much more vertical. I’ll have to keep that in mind for the future.

When that was done, I added some small cracks on the rocks, and then added some blue shadows to the rocks on the right. I want to explore more with shadows – they really have a way of adding life to the image.

Here’s what it is supposed to look like.
Here’s my attempt.
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