Hello friends, I’m Meeta Dani. I was born and brought up in Nagpur, India and am presently living in Vancouver, Canada with my family. Since my early childhood, I had a strong inclination towards all forms of art.
My interest in art began at an early age of 4 years with drawing and coloring. Every year during my summer vacations, my mother and I used to spend several hours learning new forms of art like candle making, pottery, clay modeling, etc. I did my post graduation in computer science and worked as a software engineer with reputed companies for over a decade. I was so busy with my personal and professional lives that I had no time to pursue any hobbies.
Back To My Artistic Self
In March 2008, I had to quit my software profession to take care of my infant. To keep myself occupied, I started taking drawing and painting classes for kids of all age groups. This was the period when I rediscovered my love towards art and started devoting time to pursue my childhood passion of learning new forms of art.
In 2010, my mother died of Cancer. She always wished to see me as an artist. After her death, I started painting mostly using oils and acrylics and also participated in local art exhibitions in India. My family moved to Seoul, South Korea in 2013. I continued taking drawing and painting classes in Seoul and also participated in exhibitions in Seoul and Singapore.
Finally Painting In Watercolors
In 2015, I was diagnosed with endometrial polyp. As my mother had died of endometrial cancer, which was hereditary, my doctor advised me to get a biopsy done as there was a chance of it being cancerous. The reposts suggested that the polyp was non-cancerous, but this incident shook me from inside, and I was now more determined to become a professional artist.
During this same period, I saw mind-blowing watercolor paintings while browsing the internet. I could hardly believe that those were actually paintings and done using watercolors. I had never seriously painted in watercolors and photorealistic paintings looked so very interesting to me. I thought of trying my hand at photorealism using watercolors. I painted my very first photorealistic painting, ‘The Blue Door’
I Am Completely Self-taught
I was never interested in learning any specific form of art for a longer duration and so I never tried to learn drawing or painting professionally. All the paintings that I did during 2010-2014 were all of different styles and done using different mediums like oils, acrylics, mixed media, clay, etc.
Painting in photorealistic style was new to me. I mostly learnt by watching YouTube videos and by experimenting with watercolors.
What Is Photorealism In Watercolors?
Photorealistic paintings are often based on one or multiple photographs. However, there are several artists who create photorealistic paintings mostly by their imagination and/or looking to actual 3 dimensional objects. The process of painting in photorealistic style using watercolors seems like solving a complex puzzle to me. It is sometimes as challenging as taming a wild horse.
I am often suggested to paint in a loose style as watercolors are meant to be painted loose. My thoughts are a bit different. I think that watercolor is a medium of expression of art, and a medium should not force the artist to paint in a specific style. Rather, artists should use the medium to express artistic views the way they want. I have found that watercolor is a very powerful and perhaps the most versatile medium to paint in a photorealistic style.
Painting Different Subjects
I like to paint portraits, birds, wildlife, still life, interiors and basically everything which seems challenging to me. I always try to paint outside my comfort zone. Light is an integral part of most of my paintings. I love to add an extra dash of colors to make my paintings look more eye-catching. I use bold colors and love to have a single strong point of focus in most of my paintings.
Tips On Photorealistic Painting In Watercolors
- Proper Planning – Planning is the most important and probably the most neglected stage of a painting. For a complex realistic watercolor painting, one needs to plan how to approach the subject so that the painting process becomes easier and more effective.
- Careful observation – Realistic painting is all about details, and observation skills play the most important role here. If you really want to improve then spend a lot of time in studying the subject carefully and understand it well before you actually start painting it.
- Accurate drawing – Realistic painting requires an error-free drawing. If the drawing is not accurate, the painting will definitely not look realistic. Sketching techniques like grid technique, measurement technique, tracing, etc., can help to get an accurate drawing done.
- Perfect Values – Values and contrast plays a very important role in making a painting look realistic and more appealing. A painting that has a full range of values, bright highlights and crisp shadows looks aesthetically pleasing and more interesting to the viewer.
- Appropriate Edges – One of the common mistakes that most of the beginners make is to create a sharp edge for most of the shapes in their painting. However, a realistic painting with all sharp edges looks flat and unconvincing.
- Patience – To paint in realistic style one needs to have a lot of patience. You like it or not, the fact is realistic paintings take a lot of time to finish. Start with a small simple subject and try to paint it as realistically as possible. Choose a more difficult subject next time to improve your patience level.
About My Book
I have written a book called Realistic Watercolor Unleashed on painting photorealistic watercolors. In this book, I’ve revealed all the techniques that I use for painting photorealistic paintings using watercolors. This book not only covers traditional painting techniques in detail, but also describes different ways to avoid and rectify common watercolor mistakes.
Highlights Of Realistic Watercolor Unleashed
- This book is a comprehensive guide to realistic watercolor painting for artists of all levels.
- It explains the scientific reason behind the behavior of watercolor paints.
- It includes paper stretching, drawing techniques, masking, and painting techniques.
- It explains how to make a strategy for a painting based on the complexity and type of subject.
- It has seven demonstrations on a variety of subjects such as water, wood, fur, feathers, skin, blurred background, perspective painting, etc.
- The book provides several tips on how to make a painting impactful.
- It provides lot of tips and guidance on different aspects of painting.
- It has a comprehensive list of watercolor pigments along with their characteristics, a few important color mixes, and a comprehensive list of complementary hues.
In this book, I have explained how you can design your own method for painting any complex subject like a professional watercolorist. This book is a perfect blend of in-depth theory and hands-on techniques that will inspire and motivate you to paint realistically using watercolors. It can be purchased from Amazon and on my website.
How To Paint A Blurred Background In Watercolor
The following is an example of how I painted a blurred background in my painting ‘The Look’. The reference image of chinkara by Sriram Reddy had a beautiful blurry background. I wanted to paint a similar background with a warmer feel. Painting the background first helps in judging the tonal values for the foreground. So, I decided to paint the background first and left a scope of darkening it later if required.
I first sketched the outlines and few prominent shapes of my subject using measurement technique directly on the Arches 18” x 24” 140 lb cold-pressed paper-block. Watercolor blocks by Arches are very convenient for painting small and medium size paintings as the paper does not require to be stretched before painting. Once the sketch was ready, I applied masking fluid on the boundaries of the subject. This way I can be more carefree while applying the wet-on-wet washes on the background. I use Winsor & Newton masking fluid. It has a yellow tint and the masked areas can be clearly identified. [Figure1]
Once the masking fluid was totally dry I applied a generous amount of clear water on the whole background area using my 2½” hake brush and blotted extra water using a large paper towel. I then dropped milky consistency paints (Olive Green, Indigo, Quinacridone Gold, and Brown Madder) and spread them gently using my round no.6 brush. After this, the paper was allowed to dry completely. [Figure 2]
Once the paper was dry I applied the 2nd layer of colors in a wet-on-wet manner. But this time I wet only selected area of paper and dropped milky consistency paint (Quinacridone Gold, Winsor Violet, Olive Green, Sepia, Translucent Orange, Indigo) using my round no.6 brush and let the mixing of paint happen on the paper. I took care to keep the edges smooth and avoided any hard lines and puddles. The background looked patchy after the paper dried. I applied a layer of clear water with 2½” hake brush with a little scrubbing action. The paper was then allowed to dry thoroughly. [Figure 3]
Using the above procedure I applied 3-4 layers of paint wet-on-wet, each time the paper was allowed to dry thoroughly before the next layer of paint was applied over it. I applied clear water over the background and scrubbed it with the brush in-between applying two layers of paint. [Figure 4]
After this point it was difficult for me to judge if the background should be made further dark.
So I removed the masking fluid and continued working on the main subject. [Figure 5]
Once the foreground was done I felt that the background should be made darker to add contrast to the whole painting. So I added a layer of milky consistency paint (Brown Madder, Olive Green, Quinacridone Gold, Indigo, Bright Violet, Cerulean Blue) in wet-on-wet manner using a 2½” hake brush by wetting selected areas of the background. This time I was extra careful as any mistake could have spoiled the whole painting. [Figure 6]
I love passing on my knowledge of painting to others and I welcome anyone with their queries about painting in watercolor!
Creator of Doodlewash® and founder of World Watercolor Month™ (July) and World Watercolor Group™. Sharing daily watercolor illustrations and stories while proudly featuring talented artists from all over the world! If you’d like to be a guest artist on Doodlewash.com, contact me!