John Lovett Exercise – Landscape 2

I’m moving on through John Lovett’s second watercolor book and now we’re onto exercises for the reader!   He gives a set of photos at the end of each chapter and we have to go away and paint them using the techniques we’ve learned.    Here’s the first photo :

Not very inspiring but let’s see what we can do.   First a sketch:

Seems like a good plan to me.   Keep all the interest across the middle band,   plain sky and distant mountains, and nice and loose in the foreground.   Pretty much like we did yesterday but this time we’re on our own for the details.  

Ok off we go :

Amazingly I managed to screw up the sky again the first time round so I went back with a different brush and evened out the wash somewhat.   Distant mountains in with a little more color variation than yesterday.   So far so good.    

Now the foreground.

I think we’re still all right here.   Making good use of my trusty 1/2″ bristle brush and keeping some variation in the washes but not making it too dark.

Now the scary bit – trees!   

The middle distance trees are pretty simple and the darks and contrast kept for the middle center of interest trees.   Still happy.

Now for gussying up the center of interest and adding in some detail to finish it off.

Phew!   Not too bad at all.   Didn’t overdo the detail which turned out to be a good thing and added in a few splashes of red in the middle panel.    The final part was to put clear water on the river piece and drop in some color for reflections.   It all came together well in the end.

Now at the end of the book Mr Lovett shows us his take on the pictures (I didn’t peek honest).  Here’s his version :

Ooooh!   Now his version bears even less resemblance to the photo than mine and he’s obviously got a lot more contrast and simplified the shapes more.   Maybe tomorrow I’ll risk some glazing on each side on my version to see what happens.

John Lovett Exercise – Landscape

I was rooting around on the bookshelf this morning and came across one of my favorite watercolor books:  John Lovett’s Textures, Techniques and Special Effects for Watercolor.

Now I think the title is a bit misleading as it’s a first rate instruction book for watercolor full stop.   Never mind the special effects.     As i was feeling a little jaded I thought I’d start at the beginning and go straight through the book doing all the exercises.    It’ll keep me in practice but without troubling the brain cells too much.   And frankly it’s too hot for the brain cells to do anything anyway.

First up – landscapes.     Start with a loose drawing :

No problem here.   Trying to keep the shapes interesting and uneven without sacrificing what the subject it.

Next the sky wash :

Yeah.    This was meant to be an even wash over the whole sky and I screwed this up royally.    I should have my watercolorist badge stripped from me for this.   But never mind.  Onwards.

Light washes over the foreground to indicate some foliage and a little detail around the road (or is it a river?).    Remembered to keep things pretty light and used my 1/2″ bristle brush to keep the edges scruffy.    Pretty happy so far.

Distant hills in a slightly greyed purple.   Nothing fancy here and it’ll be mostly covered by trees anyway.

Now the trees.   It’s amazing how hard I have to try to keep the trees uneven.   It’s almost as if the brush has a will of its own and physically resists me.    I’m also building up the foreground a little here – again with the 1/2″ bristle brush.

We’re actually almost there now.   Amazing how quickly things come together.   A little shadow detail on the houses followed by some dark doors and windows.    The foreground has yet another layer of detail.  This time some red for interest and some dark lines for fences/grass.   

The only remaining thing was to *very* delicately put in some white lines for branches in the trees.    So easy to ruin everything here with some clumsy marks so less is more.

I’m liking the foreground very much.    Feels good.


Trying some John Lovett inspired doors and windows.   Still in the sketchbook – I feel I need to fill up the pages now.

Both the door and the window are too squat.  It’s a nasty habit I have and it makes things look a little cartoonish.   Reasonably happy wit hthe color variation in the door and window but the bricks could have been a little livelier.

Workshop exercises

So from exercise to practice on my own.   This is always tricky and, in the past, I’ve failed to plan enough before launching in with the brushes.

 – I also didn’t make my classic mistake of putting too much detail in the foreground (just cos it’s close to you doesn’t mean you should put everything in).   There’s some detail in there but it’s muted with close tones and doesn’t detract from anything else.

Bad points:  

 – I didn’t really know what to do with the large dark mass of trees on the left hand side and it became overworked.   

 – The trees poking out on the left are also a little spindly.   

 – The background hills show too much of the brushstrokes and working when the paper was wetter would have softened them all up.   

 – Color is ok but a little meh.  some more color strength in the mid tones and focal point would give it some sparkle.

 – Composition – again meh.   If I were to do it again I would squish the middle, dark tones into more of a band (and maybe introduce another stripe of light and dark to add impact.

 – Hard to tell whether the thing in the center is a road or a river (it’s a river btw).

But these last few paintings make me think another corner has been turned.   I’m starting to think in terms of paintings rather than ‘pictures of stuff’.

Oh – and here is the

original photo

courtesy of Mr Lovett.  Yes I know there’s not much resemblance but, in this case, that wasn’t the point.

John Lovett Watercolor Workshop – Landscape

Again this isn’t a great photo – the colors are a little off – but this is another of John Lovett’s downloadable demonstrations.   I think I’m finally getting somewhere here – the darks are dark enough and the brushstrokes are nice and random.  It’s even done on the dreaded Fabriano Studio paper (yuck) and still came out ok.

John Lovett online watercolor workshops – doors and windows

John Lovett has released a set of 3 

online watercolor workshops

 which you can download for 3 months for 9.95.   This is the first one.

I was pretty pleased with this (it’s a bit dark unfortunately but I can’t be bothered photoing it again).   Made good use of the cheapo bristle brush and the 1 inch flat.   The irregular bristles make for good foliage.

Before starting I thought this would be very straightforward but it was surprisingly tricky.   The colors came out somewhat muddier than I wanted but it has good texture and the brushstrokes have some life to them.

This next one was an exercise for the student.   At the end of the walkthrough pdf are a couple of extra photos where we can apply the techniques we’ve (supposedly) learned.

Cassis Harbor – on the John Lovett trail again.

I was looking at one of my previous John Lovett exercises


 and thought that I should really try again with some JL style buildings.  This is based on a photo of Cassis Harbor.  I even tried the gesso overlay to soften some of the tones on the left – this is not as easy as it looks.

I’m not totally unhappy with this.  Good things :

  •  Trees are good with just enough detail to suggest branches.  
  •  Colors aren’t bad although I probably faded out the buildings to the left too much.   
  •  I like the cadmium orange in the roof which goes well with the greens in the trees and shutters.  

It still has an awkwardness to the drawing and the line work.  Mr Lovett’s comes out as broad confident strokes that suggest detail and add texture.  Mine just look awkward although I think less awkward than before (see


for previous sketches and


 for a less awful one).

Part way through: