Steps to paint in watercolor?
This donkey watercolor painting made it into the juried charitable benefit for Lavender Dreams Farm & Donkey Rescue. These are truly wonderful people who rescue livestock, mainly donkeys in north eastern Washington. North of Newport WA. Please take a second to check them out.If this painting wins in the show, I get some and they get some.
Donkeys are quite important characters, and have been friends with some pretty significant people… really. After I had heard about this benefit, I was thinking about what I would paint just before I went to sleep at night.
A dream about a donkey appeared in my sleep, a talking donkey just like the old show I used to watch when I was real little. Did you ever see it? It was, “Mr. Ed the Talking Horse and it started with a Palamino horse looking over his stall gate saying…
Hello I’m Mr Ed…
A horse is a horse
of course, of course
and no one can talk to a horse
of course, that is of course
unless the horse
famous Mr. Ed!
I had a dream of this talkative donkey standing in a dirt road telling me about life as he chewed on some grass. He was telling me about the cool people he knew and the great things he had done.
Then he started to talk about a really neat guy that he gave a ride into a town once. He was brought to this guy that he didn’t know, who talked to him and patted his head, making all the nervous worry go away instantly. It was great to have a human pay some attention to him, instead of just ignore him expecting unquestioned perfect servitude.
This guy was on a mission and there were lots of people all around, so they headed out right away. This man did not hit him with a stick to get going but instead simply asked him to go as he sat comfortable on his back. There were crowds around and people lining the road yelling, it was a scene like he had never seen before or since, but the man on his back was calm.
The people were throwing palm fronds on the road in front of him, making the donkey afraid that he might trip so he had to look down and be careful with each step. They did finally arrive safely in the town and then this man named Jesus got off and came up to him saying, Thank you!
Isn’t that amazing?
The name of this painting, “Then Jesus Said”. I begin by drawing up a few sketches and arriving at one with the little donkey talking to me up close and personal, like in the dream.
The first part of the painting process for me is blocking in light washes showing where the background areas are. It is easier to see if my main character is positioned how I want then. With this donkey, it was important to see the sky, with desert background but I also wanted some palm fronds because that is a integral part of the story in my dream. Once the location of the main figure is in I can then start to add the darkest areas on him to see if the figure is still working when it starts to look 3D.
I almost always have reference photography on the desktop with me as I paint or draw. I don’t have to follow the references exactly, because I am not trying to make a photograph. I use the photography to check my sizes and where the light is casting.
I am adding darkness and detail at this point to the watercolor.
Here is the donkey finished, I am happy with him because it can almost hear him talking.