I used to avoid using watercolours, thinking they were boring and “wishy washy”, so my early portfolio consisted of Pastels and Acrylic paintings. I used to dabble with watercolours but found the method difficult as I had never really been shown how to use them. In my Graphic Design course, many moons ago, I had been taught the basics, the application but never how to paint with watercolour.
That all changed when “Galgo’s Del Sol”, a Galgo rescue in Spain approached me and asked if I would produce an image of a generic Galgo as a condolence card, a “Rainbow Bridge” card, I decided to paint a rainbow without the usual rainbow shape, but rather how the light from the rainbow would look as it reflected on the Galgo.
That was it, my first ever Rainbow watercolour!
I experimented with colour, anything but the normal colours, and used the warm colours (Yellow, Orange, Yellow Green) on my highlights and cool colours (Blue, Magenta, Blue- Green and Purple) in the shading. It took a few attempts but eventually I was developing my style, my signature colouring.
There were a couple of failures, and each painting gradually developed until my style was softer and more blended, but still very bright.
Then I began to experiment with my backgrounds, nothing too bright at first, but with splashes of colour and water to create what resembled a hand dyed effect. I continued to experiment with colour in my backgrounds over the years, taking into consideration where the light would come from, and therefore how those colours would reflect on the subject, this continued to evolve until I developed the background style I use today.
The biggest challenge is painting black animals, I don’t use black, I use indigo and purple then the highlights are tones of blue, purple, magenta and even greens. Occasionally highlights of yellow are used on the very bright sheen of the fur and highpoints such as eyebrows and noses.
I finish with white gouache for the bright white areas and that all important dot of light in the eye.
Black cat, when black isn’t black, and “Daisy” the very first pet portrait I won a First Prize with, using this style.