D E Johnston RSW My Approach to Watercolour

Painting Courses


About My Work


Limited Editions

Contact Me
Once I have established the basic composition, I work on a detailed pencil drawing. After that I can forget about 'getting it right' and I can focus on capturing the mood of the landscape, that 'fleeting moment' - a phrase the American artist Andrew Wyeth used to define what he wanted the image to capture.

I used to work mostly on location; however, more recent work is studio based using a combination of sketches, visual memory & digital images to re-create the original experience.

A Winter Sunset (2010)
After that, I relax a little. I resume by establishing the link between the sky and the landscape and work from the horizon down - again left to right, working down the paper. If the painting is to include foreground detail, that may already have been established by using masking fluid to register details so that I can work more freely.

A painting can occupy a number of sessions. Often I let the image 'rest' in my mind for some time before returning to complete the work.

I work from top to bottom and left to right - it's the way we read a page and it's the way we read a painting. Of course, the business of composition is more complex than that but that's how I create the image. I am essentially a tonal painter - not a 'colourist'. That's the way I see things. So, I will
establish the sky first. The sky determines the tonal values for the whole landscape and I try to 'capture' it in one go. I work quickly wet into wet until I feel I have done enough.