Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Art Lesson: Watercoloring the Tractor Sketch.

Hello, friends.

A couple weeks back, we went through the process of sketching up some tractors.

This was the picture I was sketching from.

Today I wanted to share the process of using watercolors to paint the dried, inked image.

First, I used a mustard yellow wash to fill in the ground

and a lighter yellow on the tire hubs and the tractor.

I then added a green wash to the tractor and to the farmer's shirt and cap.

Next I made a very light gray wash using red, blue, and green and began painting the tire...

and loosely painted a background of trees.

I could see that there is three layers to this field:
the forefront layer that has a grassy look,
a cut layer of grass,
and a distant uncut stand of grass.

I made a green wash to paint the uncut distant grass.

I finished shading the tires, the exhaust pipe, some touches of black on the tractor,
and the piece of farm machinery being pulled by the tractor.

Next I decided to create the grassy front part of the field by loosely painting streaks of green,
some darker than others.

To created a faint look of cut grass for the layer of field behind the tractor,
I painted a wash of green and then painted swatches of a reddish green lines
and then dabbed them up somewhat with a tissue.

I create a division of the cut grass with the still standing grass in the background by painting a line of darker greenish red with strokes going up loosely, like grass would grow.

To darken the background trees, I first made a reddish black,
almost a purple, and did a wash of that over a section
and then went over it with sections of green.

Once this was complete, I changed to a very light blue wash and started the sky at the top and worked down toward the tree line.

I made a skin color with orange, yellow, and white and used a wash of this on parts of the farmer's face and arm as well as the child's face and legs as they stood out in the picture.
At this point, I also used blue on the farmer's pants and child's clothes with this same selective area painting.

Using some dull gray left-over from the tree background in the paint tray,
I put some shading in the yellow tire hub.
I also touched a few areas on the tractor with a reddish green to lightly shade areas as needed.

At this point, I sat back and looked at the painting.

 Something about it was not right to me.


I felt like the child's head was too small for his body.

I had a choice to leave it or try to fix it.

Perhaps I should learn to leave some things as they are,
but I couldn't let this one go.

I mixed some white, heavy on the brush and enlarged the head where I could see there was a white patch in the picture.  I added some blue, some brown for the hair, and a curl of dull white for the ear.


 I decided at this point it was good as it was and that I had better stop painting.

I painted this for my husband for his birthday as a checkbook cover.
(A plastic, clear cover that I found through a craft catalog years ago,
something similar to the one at the end of this post.)

Although this isn't perfect, I am enjoying learning to work with watercolors.
It is a rewarding working with a paint that you enjoy.
 I am glad the painting turned out in a way I feel happy with on a gift for my husband...
he deserves it. :)

Thanks for stopping by!

(I have added a few advertisements to the side of the blog for those who want to know the products that I use or think are useful... just trying to be helpful.  Of course, if you purchase anything from the links, I will be paid a little something, which is always helpful in funding my home and art supplies,  a helpful gesture! :)
(If these ads are annoying to you as you read, please let me know, and I will see if I can put them on their own separate page of the blog. ) 

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  1. I always enjoy your tutorials! It looks awesome!

  2. I am currently taking watercolor lessons and it was great to see how you approached this project. I can't wait to check out more of you art.

  3. wonderful sketch and very good watercolourings. Happy PPF, Annette x

  4. I'm the queen of not stopping when I should so feel your angst! Really nice though and thanks for sharing your process!

  5. Wow these are fabulous! Thanks for sharing your wonderful process! I love both the raw sketch and the painted sketch! Beautiful!

    Hugs Giggles

  6. Lovely sketch and great to see your process as you coloured it.

  7. What a treat to watch your whole process, quite a job to photograph all this in the right time. Thanks alot for sharing, and your art is beyond beautiful.
    Have a wonderful weekend!

  8. Wonderful! Great seeing your process.

  9. Enjoyed your process. Great job!

  10. I just loved all your pictures that you took along the way to make your wonderful picture that I am sure your husband will treasure..
    Happy PPF
    Sandy #86

  11. This is simply great! Thanks so much for sharing the process.
    Happy PPF,

  12. Hi Tonya,

    Love this tutorial. I am trying watercolors out, so your site will be a great reference for me!
    Have a great day,

    (found you via Chic On A Shoestring)

  13. I enjoyed seeing your process, especially since I have only dabbled a tiny bit in watercolors. The result is lovely. Thank you. ~~irene #66

  14. What an awesome gift and a great finish to your sketch! The watercolors look fantastic.

  15. Wow , this is beautiful and I love how you got it done on his cheque book , a perfect gift.

    Annabelle m..m

  16. I love the painting, its very well done and I loved watching you progress through it. I hope the hubby was happy with it

  17. This type of article is interesting and fun to read. I like reading and I am always searching for informative info like this. Cylinder Liner


Thanks for your thoughts! If you have a question, I'll try to answer it.