Old Door with a Torn Poster by George Politis

In this step by step watercolor demonstration, I will show how I plan and work. My subject is an old door with some rusty metal and a torn poster, I will be painting them using DANIEL SMITH watercolors.

Old things, closed doors, weathered wood, rusty material have some mystery and convey melancholy. When I see a closed door… I sometimes question myself what would be beyond? What is inside? There is certainly some mystery involved. And then… especially when something is old, you start to think about the stories of the place. Who lived or worked there? What kind of joyful or other stories were recorded in that place? Such things that refer to an earlier age are so touching. On the other hand, they are normally far from beautiful. This is my goal: to render them in a way to present all the feelings they evoked to me. To make the subject stand out and become striking! This is a matter of planning, composing and using the right contrasts and value relations….

Old Door, watercolor painting by George Politis

‘Old Door” by George Politis

In my first attempt, after I did some sketches, I painted “Old door”. In that painting I painted mostly what was in the real door. I was following more or less the colors I saw… The result was very good and I liked it a lot, but perhaps it was too bright for my taste, not too much mystery… I used several colors like Kyanite Genuine, Sleeping Beauty Turquoise Genuine, Moonglow, Burnt Sienna, and Quinacridone Gold (a real, “must use” in my paintings).

Pencil sketch

Pencil sketch for “Old Door with Torn Poster”

I did several sketches trying to explore the composition and the potential of the subject and add to the feeling of an old, more atmospheric, inviting and mysterious setting. In these sketches the decisions were to suggest more texture, to create more contrasts and to introduce a paper poster that might have been glued on the wood in the past. Several ideas about where to put the “paper” poster, how it would be torn and weathered, and how it would help the composition…
Above is the sketch that I liked most…

Step 1, Old Door with a Torn Poster,

Step 1, “Old Door with a Torn Poster”

Step 1. 
I almost always start with a warm color (usually yellows and light reds) underpainting. In this painting I start creating texture from the first moment. Quinacridone Gold, Raw Sienna and Burnt Sienna, with just a touch of Neutral Tint here and there. These colors give a warm effect in the finished painting. Texture will be built in several layers.

Step 2, Old Door with a Torn Poster

Step 2, Old Door with a Torn Poster

Step 2. 
More texture and colors.
The metal parts are painted and spattered. I painted using Burnt Sienna, Quinacridone Gold in layers. I spattered with white acrylic (using a toothbrush) and then more layering with Venetian Red, Burnt Sienna and Hematite Genuine.
Wood texture is also is painted using Burnt Sienna, Hematite Genuine, Moonglow… and this is done with little water, like in dry brush.
I also start working on the torn paper some of the colors in other parts of the painting. I also introduce Sleeping Beauty Turquoise Genuine.

Step 3, Old Door with a Torn Poster

Step 3, Old Door with a Torn Poster

Step 3. 
Using mostly the same colors I work with the values of the painting, producing darker shapes and more contrast.
The metal parts are painted and spattered. I painted using Burnt Sienna.
More texture painted.
I work all around the painting, trying to create a balanced effect. I try to make certain areas “glow” in light by placing darker colors around them. Contrast is the key!

Step 4, Old Door with a Torn Poster

Step 4, Old Door with a Torn Poster

Step 4. 
Trying to achieve a more dramatic effect. 
More Sleeping Beauty Turquoise Genuine in the paper, along with random lines and dragging color from the wood area to unify everything. More darks are painted using drybrush strokes. This gives the feeling of texture on the wood and metal and light comes through to produce more interest.

Step 5, "Old Door with a Torn Poster" by George Politis

Step 5, “Old Door with a Torn Poster”, 15 x 22 inches, by George Ploitis

Step 5. 
The finished painting. After several layers, many evaluations before continuing with each next step… I always paint in many layers, with patience… I don’t like to push things. I prefer to stop, step back, evaluate, paint again … and so on.
I consider the painting finished when I am satisfied with the overall effect.  —George Politis

My 3 Favorite DANIEL SMITH Watercolors used in “Old Door with Torn Poster”.

1) Quinacridone Gold – Definitely one of my favorites. Granulating, rich, diffusing beautifully!!
2) Sleeping Beauty Turquoise Genuine – A beautiful color that gives highlights in a painting!!
3) Perylene Green – Rich, beautiful dark. I love to use as it is, or mix with other colors!!

3 TIPS from George Politis:

1) Dry brush for texture – light spattering with acrylic for more texture.
2) Mix your colors on paper, instead of mixing on the palette. More
 vivid colors, beautiful variations.
3) Explore colors from the PrimaTek Watercolors by DANIEL SMITH.
Use darks for more contrast.

“My work depends on texture. I emphasize on it as I want to be able to create the various effects of time on metal, wood or wall. A good variety of transparent vs opaque colors, granulation qualities and certainly lightfastness are very important to me. When I discovered DANIEL SMITH watercolors, I knew I had everything I needed. A great range of colors (that can suit everyone’s needs), well ground to be consistent tube after tube.” —George Politis

George Politis portrait photoAbout: George Politis paints in watermedia and lives in Thessaloniki in Greece. He is a signature member of AWS (American Watercolor Society), RI (Royal Institute of Painters in Watercolors), AWA (Arizona Watercolor Association), NEWS (North East Watercolor Society), IAF (Institut des Arts Figuratifs) and has served as President of the Artists Society of Northern Greece (2009-2015).
His paintings have won many awards, including the “Commended Award in Watercolor”, “Best
Watercolor” and “Best Mixed Media” at the International Juried Exhibitions, Australian Society of
Miniature Art in Australia; the President’s Award, the Da Vinci Award and twice the “Award of Excellence” in the Arizona Watercolor Association Members Shows (2001, 2007, 2011). He has served as juror in National and International watercolor exhibitions and he is the organizer and
curator of the Thessaloniki Biennial of Watercolor (“Watercolor International – Greece”). His paintings are featured in art books and catalogs (International Artist 2001, L’ Aquarelliste 2000, L’ Art de l’ Aquarelle 2012, The Artist 2000, 2002, Artissime 2013, Le Grand Livre de l’ Aquarelle etc).
Website: GeorgePolitis.gr