Spa Day, Lorraine Watry, Experimenting with New DANIEL SMITH Greys. Watercolor article

I love working with DANIEL SMITH Watercolors because of their vibrancy, ease of re-wetting, and number of pigments, so I was super excited to receive the new DANIEL SMITH Signature Series Greys [ 8 New DANIEL SMITH Watercolors for 2019 ] and knew exactly which of my photos I wanted to paint to try them out. Like a lot of artists, I can get caught up using the same colors for painting after painting. So, it’s exciting to try a new color or lots of new colors. Time to experiment!

New DANIEL SMITH Grey Watercolors, for Lorraine Watry' Spa Day painting.
New DANIEL SMITH Grey Watercolors

Time to experiment!

“Spa Day” is from a photo I took of a Red Crested Cardinal after he’d bathed in a fountain. The photo intrigued me because of all the neutral colors around the bright pop of red-orange on the bird’s head. I decided to experiment with this painting and not only did I try the new DANIEL SMITH Greys, but I also tried a different brand of paper and a technique I don’t usually use – blooms. I began the painting by using my photo software to adjust the composition by moving the bird to the right and added some more water dripping in the fountain.

DANIEL SMITH Paints – I don’t normally paint with so many varieties of one color (in this case grey), but I decided to throw caution to the wind because I was experimenting.

Preliminary steps for Spa Day watercolor painting by Lorraine Watry
Step 1: Preliminary steps for “Spa Day”.

Step 1: I start all of my paintings by doing a detailed drawing from my photo. I then enlarge the drawing and transfer it to my watercolor paper using my light table. I stretched my watercolor paper onto foam board and while it was drying overnight, I played with the greys and did a small color study to get an idea of my techniques for the background.

Masking out the bird and dripping water shapes, then beginning to add watercolor, Lorraine Watry.
Step 2: Masking out the bird and dripping water shapes, then beginning to add watercolor.

Step 2:  Next, I masked out the bird and dripping water with masking tape. I used masking fluid to mask some of the small drops of water on the bird’s feathers and in the background, as well as the highlights on the bird’s eye. I began the fountain by wetting the area and used a variety of the greys from Alvaro’s Fresco Grey and a little Gray Titanium on the left, to Joseph Z’s Cool and Warm Greys as I moved to the right. While these areas were wet, I flicked on water for blooms and charged in Bronzite Genuine and Mummy Bauxite for color variety and texture. As the area started to dry, I flicked on more of the Bronzite Genuine, Mummy Bauxite, and Alvaro’s Caliente Grey to make the fountain feel like rough stone.

Using Alvaro's Fresco Grey in the background on the left. Lorraine Watry.
Step 3: Using Alvaro’s Fresco Grey in the background on the left….

Step 3: I used Alvaro’s Fresco Grey in the background on the left and under the bird on the ledge. I really like this cool/purple grey and I’m already using it on another painting. I glazed some of the Bronzite Genuine over parts of this area to give the gray fountain some patina. Bronzite Genuine is naturally shiny so this pigment is fun to see up close because it sparkles. I used Joseph Z’s Warm Grey and a touch of Alvaro’s Caliente Grey to create the dark shadow on the fountain behind the bird. Then I removed the masking on one of the lines of dripping water to see if my values were working. This helps me decide if I need to add more glazes before removing all the masking.

Working around all the greys of the background.... Lorraine Watry
Step 4: Working around all the greys of the background….

Step 4: I continued working around all the greys of the background and used some of Joseph Z’s Warm Grey for the shadow on the back left. I repeated the greys from the walls of the fountain in the water along with some Green Apatite Genuine and Quinacridone Gold. I debated whether to include the green in the water, but I liked the contrast with the red of the birds head. The green also appears along the front edge of the ledge the bird rests on. I finished up the majority of the background and shadows and then removed the masking fluid on the bird and dripping water.

Starting the birds head with Quinacridone Sienna.... Lorraine Watry
Step 5: Starting the birds head with Quinacridone Sienna….

Step 5: I was excited to start the birds head and I began with Quinacridone Sienna for the lighter, muted orange feathers. After this dried, I added a mix of Pyrrol Scarlet and Carmine for the red feathers. Then to give the bird life, I painted his eye with a mix of Burnt Umber and Sodalite Genuine. I left the highlight at the bottom of the eye and later painted some Quinacridone Sienna on that area. After removing the mask for the brightest highlight, I added a touch of Cerulean Blue, Chromium to reflect the sky in the bird’s eye. The beak was painted with glazes on dry paper using Burnt Umber, Quinacridone Rose, and Cerulean Blue, Chromium.

Painting in the birds feathers with mix of Ultramarine Blue and Burnt Umber watercolors. Lorraine Watry
Step 6: Painting in the birds feathers with mix of Ultramarine Blue and Burnt Umber.

Step 6: I decided to use Ultramarine Blue and Burnt Umber, a gray mix that I know well for the birds feathers. This mix allows me to vary the gray from cool to warm and keep a unified look to the feathers. I started adding glazes to the bird’s head for shadows and depth and mixed Cerulean Blue, Chromium and Quinacridone Rose for the shadow on the white body feathers. I softened the edges of some of the feathers by applying water while an area was wet or softened the edge after it had dried.

Occasionally I took a break from the feathers and worked on the dripping water in the background. I wet each drip and then painted it using Alvaro’s Caliente and Fresco Greys. I left some of the edges and circles within the drips white to make them sparkle.

After adding many layers to the birds feathers in watercolor.... Lorraine Watry
Step 7: After adding many layers to the birds feathers….

Step 7: After adding many layers to the bird’s feathers, I removed the masking fluid from the water drops all around the background. I softened their edges using a small flat brush and water. Then I added some color to some in the shadows. For those that were floating on the water, I added a line to the middle and shaded the reflection in the water.

At this point, I took some time to look at the almost finished watercolor painting.... Lorraine Watry
Step 8: (Detail) At this point, I took some time to look at the almost finished painting….

Step 8: (Detail) At this point, I took some time to look at the almost finished painting. I decided that I wanted to lift some of the color in the water to create some larger white splashes. I used masking tape and a sharp blade to cut out some shapes. I was pleased with how well the Signature Series Greys lifted. After removing the tape, I cleaned up the shapes I created to integrate them into the surrounding water.

Spa Day, 20x28 watercolor painting by Lorraine Watry
“Spa Day”, 20×28 watercolor by Lorraine Watry

In Conclusion

Normally, I would not recommend using so many different grays in the same painting. In this case, the variety of grays seemed to work together for the colors and textures of the fountain. I feel like this experimental painting was a personal success on multiple fronts. The different cold press paper that I tried worked well and gives me an option from my usual CP paper. I enjoyed experimenting with the textures of the fountain and the Primatek Watercolors, and the New Signature Series Greys really added to that effect with their granulation (Alvaro’s Caliente Grey is the only non-granulating gray in the bunch). Finally, it was a pleasure trying out most of the new DANIEL SMITH Greys in “Spa Day”. My favorites are Alvaro’s Caliente and Fresco Greys. Joseph Z’s Warm and Cool Greys are close runners up. These will be added to my arsenal of convenience colors for future paintings.

Photo of artist Lorraine Watry

Lorraine Watry

Lorraine is a watercolor artist painting waterscapes, birds, and reflective objects in a realistic style. Lorraine’s watercolors are characterized by bright colors, dramatic light, and realistic reflections. She likes the challenge of painting water, glass, and metal and recently has become captivated with birds. Lorraine has a Bachelor of Fine Art from the University of Colorado in Boulder and after college designed clip-art for a graphics company for a few years. Lorraine began working with watercolor 25 years ago and taught the medium at Pikes Peak Community College. She currently teaches watercolor and drawing in her studio and at other venues.

Lorraine is a Signature member of the National Watercolor Society, Rocky Mountain National, Colorado Watercolor Society, and Pikes Peak Watercolor Society. Lorraine’s painting of a pelican, “Splish Splash”, was juried into Splash 21 and the 2017, 42nd Birds in Art Exhibition at the Leigh Yawkey Woodson Art Museum. Her painting, “Sonata for Horns” was juried into the prestigious, International exhibition – the Shenzhen Biennial in China. Lorraine’s painting, “Shows Over”, was juried into the Best of Watercolor Book Series – “Splash 14 – Light and Color”. Lorraine was filmed for the Australian Art TV show, “Colour in Your Life” in 2018 and the show is available on their YouTube channel.

Lorraine enjoys the challenge of watercolor and starts her paintings with a detailed drawing. She likes to use intense color and many layers to build up the depth in her images. The DANIEL SMITH pigments are her favorite watercolors for their intensity of color, range of pigments, and beautiful granulations. Lorraine prefers to use the white of the paper and does not add opaque whites to her paintings. She is intrigued by reflections and how they interact to create abstract patterns in a realistic scene.

Additional watercolor article for DANIEL SMITH by Lorraine Watry:  A Glass Ornament and Watercolor Ground Demonstration