Do Not Be Frightened of Dark Shadows


Thatched Boathouses, Hickling Broad Norfolk England Winsor & Newton Artist’s Watercolour on 140lb Saunders waterford paper

Its a beautiful day out there the sun’s shining but the temperature is hovering just above freezing so for last nights class I harked back to lazy summer days.
Okay so not so lazy, but back to the Waking & Sketching in the Norfolk Broads break of June 2011. When we walked (ambled) about 6 miles a day stopping to sketch on the way.

This watercolour demonstration was from a photograph taken on a hot June day, on the edge of Hickling Broad Norfolk where you can find these thatched boat sheds along side houses known as Millionaires Row. When I’m tutoring I don’t much chance to do my own work because my job is to assist those who are with me, so I often take photographs to use later for my own work or for class exercises.

Those painting last night had a challenge mixing many different greens and making the right foreground look interesting, I think when we lack confidence we make grass and reeds stand up like soldiers at attention, when grasses blow with the wind or in this case are haphazard from being cut.

I did mask out some highlights including light patches on the water.

Never be afraid of making your shadows too dark, the darker the shadows the brighter the sun is shining, just make sure you use transparent pigments so detail can be seen under them. I generally use the blue I have used in the sky with Burnt Sienna, to make a grey.
When painting shadow your brush strokes should work away from the object casting the shadow.
Look at the over hang of the roof of the boathouse, my brush worked away from the roof, the darker shadow being under the roof. If I had painted horizontal strokes it would have looked underlined rather than a shadow cast down onto the wall.

Broadland Sketches on Foot 2013 runs  17-20 May
for more info please go to


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