I find for me, that its always easier to create when I free up and just start off by doing watercolour washes and mixing of colours. It has a Zen quality to it I like.
In these following images you can see the sequential processes used to go from playing with washes and colours to …. achieving a final image.
The colours used were cobalt blue and prussian blue; the browns were raw sienna and burnt umber. This was quite a limited palette, I find limiting the number of colours always helps me to concentrate on getting my shapes and tones right.
A wash is simply applying watercolour onto the paper usually on dry paper. A graded wash is when you apply the watercolour going from dark to light or light to dark.
The entire image was basically done in washes; however, they each have different tonal values.
Mixing a blend of cobalt with prussian starting at the top very light and pale, going down towards the bottom adding more dark prussian for a watercolour wash that has some variation.
Next is where you deepen the dark in a couple of areas and judiciously leave quite a bit of white areas… for the white of the waves that will emerge, seemingly from out of nowhere.
Just after the white of the waves come back in with the cobalt and prussian mix in a mid tone just below the white waves.
In this “All Sides” image I have turned the painting around, upside down and taken a cropped photo. Just because I wanted to see what it might look like from another perspective. This is a great technique to use to salvage paintings that you’d otherwise bin. Sometimes they are brilliant in a vertical and not so good in the horizontal format.
Watercolour washes and playing with colour mixing can reward you with some unexpected creations.
Just by being diligent in leaving lots of white of the paper you can strengthen your overall balance of Tonal Values for your painting immediately.
Limiting your palette to 3-4 harmonious colours goes a long way towards creating a very successful painting!
Some artists that I referenced and recommend others to look at as well are:
John Yardley, watercolourist
Edward Seago, watercolourist and oil painter
David Taylor, watercolourist
Ron Ranson, watercolourist