My mom loves turtles and the beach, so I decided to combine them in this fantasy painting I made for her for Mother’s Day. In this post, I’m going to discuss some principals I took advantage of for this painting.
For the baby turtle’s shell, I chose to use warmer colors, ie, a golden brown, to represent youth, while for the Mommy Turtle’s shell, I chose to use a more grayish brown to represent maturity.
To me, these turtles represent my mom and me.
Now, for some reason, I really love painting patterns on turtles' shells and I just realized that as I was working on this article and video. While I'm pretty loose with small patterns, such as the scales on the head, where I just try tp follow the general pattern, for the shell patterns, I try to get as close to the reference photo as I can, both in terms of shape and how close the colored spots are to eachother.
Speaking of the pattern on the turtle's head, I could see in my reference photo that the scales were largest at the front of his head and got smaller going back toward the neck, so I mimicked that in my painting
For the waves crashing onto the beach, I used blue and purple. I shook my wrist slightly as I painted so the lines would come out a bit zigzagged. The last thing I wanted was straight harsh lines. I wasn't too concerned about keeping things neat. In fact, I wanted things to be a bit messy and wild here.
I repeated the blue and purple them in the sky and used similar brush strokes. I masked off bits of the sky with masking fluid so they would stay white. I put a wash of very watered down blue over all the parts that were not going to stay white or have the darker blue or purple on them.
In the patch in the far left, some of the strokes ran together unintentionally. At first, I thought, oh, no, but over time I've come to like the effect I've achieved.
Mixing black into the same color I used for the base color, with very little water mixed into the paint and with the layer underneath dry, using a small brush, I painted wrinkles on the Mommy Turtle's neck.
When I started to paint the sky, I blocked most it in with a darkish blue, but left big chunks white. I didn't bother with masking fluid at this point, because these spots were big enough to paint around easily. When it came time to paint those parts, though, I did put down some masking fluid because there were tiny areas that wanted to make sure stayed white. As for the areas surrounding them, I wanted them to be lighter than my base color, by quite a bit. I mixed water into my paint to lighten it, but it still wasn't light enough for me, so I dabbed it with a tissue.
I find it really cool how you can manipulate the value of watercolor paint by how much water you mix in to it. If I want to lighten a color when working in acrylics, I actually have to get out white paint and mix it into the color I want to lighten, which takes more time. In this sense, watercolor lets you be a bit lazy. But then, maybe it's just giving you a break from all the painstaking work you had to do else where, such as making sure every line is in place in your drawing, and making sure every color is just where it should be, not stopping too short, or going too far.
To learn more about how I did this painting, watch the video embedded below.
Painter of portraits and wildlife