How to Paint Watercolour Like Turner – Part 2: Tone

How to Paint Watercolour Like Turner – Part 2: Tone

In our previous film we had a look at elements of line and linear composition Now we want to flesh this art with having a look at tone and how tone can both describe form but can also bring in elements of drama or elements of extreme subtlety There is stuff here to be learnt for everybody whether you are a total beginner or whether you are a hardened old professional. Just to desconstruct some of these paintings and try and see how the artist built it up, breaking it down to its component parts and looking at some of the techniques. Let’s start with somehting which is perhaps the pinnacle of the whole thing, the blue Rigi which you probably know but you probably haven’t ever thought to break down technically We have got something here which is grom all sorts of points of vue, the pinnacle of what one coudl hope to achieve in watercolour I mean technically, it’s like a magician putting colour down. There are veils of colour layered across here which – I’ve been painting all my life and i can;t see how these are achieved. This is a painting that is absolutely full of light, it is bursting with light But when we actually have a look at the tones of those first washes laid down against this white You squint at that, they are really mid-tone washes It’s only when the drawing, the line work accrues later on which tend to be the darkest bits of the piece that all this tone and all this colour working as tone falls into its hierarchy of what is light and what is dark Right, what we’re doing here is looking at the simplicity of tone in what is going on here I’ve chosen, again as Turner often did to work on, a really quite dark to mid-tone paper and the point of that is rather than a normal watercolour approach where you actually block areas of dark tone and leave in the lights, just for this first initial look I want to be able to make a positive statement about the light that is happening there Initially just laying in, in simple terms, where the strength of that light is and it is really strong behind that tower block that is building up there And it is picking up again and reflecting in the water This is not trying to describe in any sense at all of the actually of what things are doing Just to really get in my mind that there are broad areas of tone going on: light, medium, dark No mention of colour at all, we are not interested in the lovely warmth that has started to develop in that sky. I can’t wait to get to grips with that later on with a little bit of Turneresque yellow I am just making myself feel confident that I know tonely, dramatically what is going on there I find these absolutely extraordinary because we are able to see these in the context of what we know to be more finished pieces You can see into Turner’s mind what he was thinking when he first approached the subject It’s a bit of dashed on colour, probably taken not more than 30 seconds to put on Many of these were unfinished, many of these didn’t fulfill any other function in Turner’s mind other than him sitting down saying to himself: ‘is there a possibility that this could contain something hidden in there that I would want to go on with If you do ten, you might get one which reaches fruition If you only do one and it faulters, you’re lumbered. Another interesting thing, you can see where Turner has tapped this with his fingers Anything which makes the mark will do. A finger is just as valid a tool as a bit of dead animal tied on a stick that we call ‘a brush’ If makes the mark it does the job Look at this, the Shields Lighthouse which you can see down the bottom right here A lot of the fascination with the Lighthouses is Turner always liked that difference between the man-made light and the God-given light so there are all sorts of sub plots going on here But this is the tonal piece. He has chosen to keep well away from colour This is about looking at the drama the tone can give you The authority that a light shade working with on a basically quite strong dark slab will give you We we have large light, mid-tone to light area in which very dark things are happening We have a very dark area over here where the trees are within which very light things are happening It’s a lovely counterpoint for me compositionally When the sun comes round, if it comes round, provides us with a wonderful sunset It will be chance to really let rip with some strong reds as strongs mis-tones here I can’t wait for that to happen I have got to stop and reserve some of this excitement for when Imove into colour

9 thoughts on “How to Paint Watercolour Like Turner – Part 2: Tone

  1. love this film! would like to see more like this. So inspiring to take a walk with a person who knows the deal

  2. What the hell is with the out of focus shots?? Bloody infuriating, this is a film for artists, the point is that we are supposed to a tally see what's going on. It's like the camera operator is drunk. Just awful.

  3. Omg tried again just cannot watch this its ridiculous. Obviously from the same people who prat about when they make BBC cooking shows, as they are equally unwatchable rubbish. Axe by director who think they're being artistic but in actual fact they are just disregarding their audience with their shakey, drunk camera antics.

  4. this is brilliant.  turner was a magician.  your presentation is so alive and informative, hopefully i'll find more of these videos authored by you.  thank you so much for posting.  i love the scale of his view on the small paper – it's amazing.

  5. Thank you so much. Wonderful commentary. The nay sayers can give all of us a break and go somewhere else.

  6. I am wearing a glass, and I know the pain without having one. I want to learn here and this just give me headache.

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