Cow With Calves – The Perfect Colors
Starting with the perfect colors not only makes this easy to paint, but gives you a professional looking result!
These are Lineback cows – an endangered species with distinctive coloring.
- Quinacridone Gold (you can substitute raw sienna or a transparent yellow)
- Burnt Sienna (you can substitute with quinacridone sienna or transparent red oxide)
- Ultramarine Blue (or french ultramarine)
Step by Step Instructions
Step 1 – Lightly draw or copy the cows and hay trough onto your watercolor paper. Using a liquid masking fluid to mask out the white areas on the brown calf and a few pieces of hay at the bottom and in the trough. Also mask the white cow at the edges.
Step 2 – Work on a tilted surface. I tilted my paper up an inch by putting a roll of masking tape about 1 inch thick under my paper support.
Step 3 – Lay in the wet and wild washes with a big brush. Wet the top third of the paper (the area above the cows and hay) with clean water. Drop in quinacridone gold just above the cows and hay. Let the gold blend up into the wet paper, but try to keep some white paper at the very top. Add some burnt sienna to the same area. Mix burnt sienna and blue to make a darker color and add a small bit of that to the same wet area.
Step 4 – Use Saran Wrap to create texture by crumpling up a piece of wrap, then firmly pressing the slightly crumpled wrap into the wet wash. Let this dry before you remove the wrap. (Drying may take half an hour or so.) In the video, I painted most of the paper before applying wrap, but I’m a very fast painter. You may find it easier to apply the wrap at the top before painting the bottom area. Either way will work.
Step 5 – Paint burnt sienna over the middle area as shown on the video, and more gold at the bottom where the straw is. While this area is still wet, crumple and apply plastic wrap to the gold straw area. Let dry thoroughly.
Step 6 – Start painting the objects with a small brush. Mix burnt sienna with a touch of blue to tone it down for the side of the trough. I make the top edge a bit darker than the rest, then paint color and water in horizontal strokes so it will form a wood like texture. Next I painted the shadow area under the trough. When I get to the straw area at the bottom, I create the texture of straw by painting the dark behind it. You can draw the straw first on if it helps you.
Step 7 – Layer your colors to create form. If an area dries lighter than you want, paint it again. The colors on the white cow are mixtures of the blue and brown, with a bit of gold added where I want to make it warmer. Watercolor can make great grays. For the shadows on a white cow, you’ll need to keep the shadows very watery and light.
Step 8 – Remove the masking and evaluate your painting. Does some area still need to be darker? Some ways to ‘see your painting in a new light’ are to hold it up to a mirror, or take a photo and study the small photo version.