Thursday, August 7, 2008

Painting Rainbows in Watercolor

QUESTION: Hi Susie! I have a beautiful photo of a rainbow that I've been trying to paint but I've had problems with keeping the colors of the rainbow vibrant and fresh without the colors running into each other and getting muddy. Do you have a simple step by step advice for rainbows? Maybe this would be in your watercolor skies DVD? Any chance that you'll be visiting Hawaii so I can take one of your workshops? Melissa/Hawaii

SUSIE'S REPLY: Hi Melissa! First of all let me tell you I would love to come to Hawaii to paint and teach a workshop! I don't have anything planned yet, but it could happen! I'm ready!
Now to answer your question....Painting rainbows in watercolor does present some unique challenges. When we visualize a rainbow we think of evenly blended vibrant colors with soft edges.
One way to keep our colors from mingling into a muddy mess is to apply one color (on dampened paper,) let it dry, then re-dampen and glaze the second color on next to it. The slight overlapping of these two colors will naturally create the secondary color between them. Let the colors dry again. Then add the next color. You may have to repeat the process several time and build up layers to achieve the intensity you are striving for so be patient. Its been my experience that using only red yellow and blue to paint a rainbow wasn't enough I had to mix up a purple and orange to fill in where I wanted more vibrant color hues.

I've tried painting the rainbow first then painting the landscape/sky around it, and I've painted the landscape/sky first and added the rainbow. Both methods worked as long as I took my time and didn't rush things. As is the case with most new watercolor techniques, it will take some practice and possibly several pieces of good paper to get the feel for what you are doing. Hang in there and don't give up. It can be done! Good luck!

PS. Let me emphasize.... using good paper will be critical ...even when practicing...use good paper!

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