Saturday, June 30, 2012

WINDOW PANE: Paintings & Watercolor Exercise

DAY #1 -- Using the square window pane as the basis for a watercolor technique exercise; and, showing how I used the window pane design in a series of paintings.


For each of these, I painted separate little paintings, which were then mounted to form one big painting . . .

The small paintings were done on 10" x 10", or 12" x 12", handmade watercolor paper squares, which were then mounted on black mat board, leaving a 1/2" space between them, so that it looked like window panes.

I did not paint one big painting and then cut it up into smaller squares.  I guess I could have done it that way, but these small handmade paper squares have such beautiful deckled edges that aren't perfectly straight -- I would have lost that.

This paper, called "Indian Village" handmade paper, is a challenge to paint on.  It sucks up the watercolor like a sponge, so you have to apply many layers in order to get bright colors.  I also chose to draw my shapes with liquid acrylic, which acts like a dam for the watercolor washes.  But, the resulting texture and 3-dimensional quality that I got, made the challenge worth it.

I also enjoyed designing my paintings in this modular way, resulting in this windowpane effect.


WINDOWPANE EXERCISE -- A sampler of watercolor techniques to try . . . 

On a scrap of watercolor paper, draw a big square, and then do a simple contour drawing of a big pear, with a cast shadow.

On top of this drawing, draw two straight lines, dividing the square into 4 equal sections, like four window panes.  Around the edges, label the sections with the technique you are going to use.  You will paint each section separately, and a little differently. 

Top Left -- Paint the background shape first, using salt for texture.  When that is dry, paint the yellow shape of the pear.

Top Right -- Paint the yellow pear first, sprinkling in salt for texture.  When that is dry, paint the background shape.  Remember to only paint the portion of the pear that is within that section.

Bottom Left -- Paint each shape within this section separately -- wetting the shape first, and then dropping in color, letting the colors mix and mingle within each shape.

Bottom Right -- Paint each shape as a graded wash -- painting wet on dry.  Start painting each shape with a color, then switch to another color within that shape, while the first color is still wet.  Be sure to use enough water, so the colors mix easily.

When all this is dry, you can go over your lines with a black pen.  


  1. That’s the cleverest, most brilliant thing I’ve ever seen. I do remember staining my bathroom window, but it’s been a long time since I did it. About the paint you used, is it permanent or can it be removed?

    1. Thanks, Sandra, but I'm afraid it's not as clever as you think it is. These are not really painted windows -- they just resemble that. Actually, each painting is made up of separate little watercolor paintings, painted on square handmade paper, and then mounted on black mat board, in order to look like window panes -- just another design idea. (The shapes are outlined in liquid acrylic, before painting in watercolor.) And, the exercise at the bottom is all painted on 1 piece of paper, divided into fourths.

      Thanks for you comment -- hope I didn't disappoint you! :)

  2. I’m very pleased to meet you, Pat! I really like that you posted a tutorial on your blog. You really helped me out, you know! I’m even thinking of turning this into a business. And even though they aren’t exactly glass panes, they’re still quite exceptional. I love it!

    1. Thanks -- I'm glad it was helpful for you. And, good luck with your new business!

  3. Pat, very cool idea and very creative. Suppose I were to do this on a window pane, what sort of paint would you recommend? Water, acrylic??? Water might actually give it a stained glass look, yes?? I want it to be somewhat transparent to let in light through the window pane. What do ya think? Randy

    1. If you're painting directly onto glass, Randy, you should definitely use acrylic paint. Just add more water to it,in order to get a transparent look. But, don't use watercolor on glass -- not gonna work.