On our painting holidays in Italy we take our guests to the various hilltop towns that are a feature of Umbria. This sketchbook watercolour was painted on location in a picturesque town called Todi which we have been to on a number of occasions.
Using a combination of the sketchbook watercolour, this simple pen drawing and photographs I decided to paint the scene as a larger A4 Watercolour Painting of Todi on hand made deckled edged paper for one of my painting videos.
I like the colours of this watercolour sketch of Colle di Val d’Elsa in Tuscany which are more autumnal so I intensified the colours from the sketchbook watercolour. I remembered the time when we visited Todi in the autumn one year.
The first step after drawing out the scene in pencil was to wet the paper and get down a quick wash of Cadmium Lemon and Cadmium Yellow. This set the tone and mood for all the other colours. I kept the yellow light in the sky so that when I added the blue, it didn’t end up looking green. However, it is distinctly more intense over the buildings.
Next wash was Rose Madder. Again, I wet the sky to avoid hard edges and to create some lighter patches for the clouds. However the area where the buildings are was dry because I wanted a few areas of yellow to come through in places to create interest and variation.
I recently purchased some new brushes from Rosemary & Co so I used a size 14 Series 344 to apply some clean water up to the edges of the buildings so that when I painted the sky, the colour flowed freely up to the rooftops without me having to paint round them and run the risk of the paint drying to quickly and end up with streaky brush marks.
So using the same brush I painted in some French Ultramarine over different parts of the sky, allowing some of the Rose Madder to show through to represent cloud shapes.
As I was painting nearer the buildings, I switched blues to Manganese Blue which added further interest, fusing into the French Ultramarine. A tad more Rose Madder helped the whole blending process.
The same Rosemary & Co brush is great for this type of painting. I just worked my way around the different buildings, catching the surface of the paper at times so that the painting retained the fluidity of the sketchbook study. The darker Rose Madder colour that I painted at the start, suddenly didn’t look to dark when up against the darker shadow colour.
This is where the brush came into its own, large enough to cover the bigger areas but having a fine enough point for detail.
A number 4 Rosemary & Co brush from the same series was required for some of the smaller shadow areas.
When the shadows areas dried, I started to work on even finer detail, picking out all the windows with a very dark mix of purple, Vandyke Brown and Paynes Grey.
I wasn’t being too fiddly with these details, just sufficient accuracy to represent the windows, eaves and chimneys.
Once I completed all these finer details, which took more than an hour, I brought the painting to conclusion by painting in the foliage to break up the interlocking shapes of all the buildings.
I mixed a nice green made up of Cadmium Lemon, Paynes Grey with possibly the smallest touch of Winsor Green.
I was back to the size 14 again, this time using mainly the side of the brush rather than the point to represent lots of branches. I used a wet on dry technique, flicking the brush over the surface of the paper to create the effect of lots of foliage.
For the smaller areas of foliage I used the size 4 brush again, going in with a much deeper green, probably more Paynes Grey than green for the shadows. I used the same technique of dragging the brush to create texture.
If you would like to learn more about how to produce a Painting of Todi or similar, why not join us on one of our Painting Holidays in Umbria, Italy.