Villeray lane, step-by-step

My new iPad Pro has a great camera which makes taking process shots of my studio paintings much easier than it used to be. I just prop the painting up on an easel and take a few shots along the way.

I’ve been painting away during this holiday break in preparation for a show I’m having in March at Galerie Carlos, which is part of The Old Brewery Mission. I hope to have lots of new Montreal scenes, including this one of a lane in Villeray.

After completing the pencil drawing (from a photo I took last week) I use a big brush to put in a light wash of the initial warm and cool tones, painting around the whites. This is a half sheet of Arches Rough 140 lb watercolour paper, so the brush I use is a big mop that holds tons of water.

The second step is to use a wide flat brush to start to define the movement and texture in the scene. I initially left the snow in the foreground quite light but then decided to go in with a big, wet wash of grey to tie both sides of the lane together. For the overcast day, I used mostly blues and Burnt Sienna, which allowed me to vary the greys from warm to cool in different areas of the painting.

After a walk with the dog, I came back to a fully dry sheet and was then able to add details to the watercolour. At that point I decided to put in the little boys playing in the lane. I tried to paint them without too much fuss — just a few quick swipes of bright colour with the brush. I didn’t want them to be overworked or more detailed than the rest of the painting.

The last step was to add lots of calligraphy and texture on the sheds, the trees, the utility poles and power lines. I did this mostly with a series of rigger brushes, and dryer, thicker paint. When the watercolour was fully dry I scanned it in sections and stitched it together in Photoshop, so the colour on the final version is the most accurate.

36 Comments on “Villeray lane, step-by-step”

  1. Judy Sopher says:

    This really shows how skilled you are with watercolor. Lovely painting. I could have been happy with the second one as is–not to mention the next two. Thanks for showing the steps and how you approached it.


  2. Fascinating! I enjoyed the progression of the images and your notes as the painting progressed step-by-step.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. loisajay says:

    Shari–I am so happy you posted this. I can never see the pencil drawing under your paints so was always amazed how you just painted and it turned out like this. Not to worry–I am still amazed at how you paint and it looks like this. The initial wash is really a wonderful prep. I do love your paintings. Which is why I am so excited to receive your book–in a few short months!


    • Lois, the drawing for this one took a long time. It’s important to get all the details right, so there are lots of pencil marks. But worth taking the time because then the painting progresses quickly. And I’m excited to receive the book too!

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Sheila Brown says:

    This is so helpful, Shari!!!! Thank you! Would love you to do a post on your current palette!


  5. Denise Gowan says:

    Thank you SOOOO much, Shari! All of your effort to show the multiple steps is greatly appreciated. I have always LOVED your style of watercolor, so seeing the progression is such a delight!! I am excited to try these types of layers soon. Good luck with your upcoming show!


    • Thanks for letting me know Denise. As you know I don’t always have time to do these types of posts, but when I can, it’s good for me too to do this exercise because it helps with the teaching process. Glad you liked it and thanks for the good wishes about the show.


  6. Judith from Boston Northshore says:

    Thanks , Shari. Your step by step explanations are so helpful to many of us, myself especially. The final image is wonderful. I look forward to one day taking a class from you…in the Massachusetts or South Carolina area! Best regards.


    • Thanks so much Judith. Are you on my mailing list for workshops? If not, send me your email and I will add you to the list. Also, if you have an art group in your area, you can always invite me to teach where you are.


  7. Mary McLaughlin says:

    Shari – it’s amazing to view the progression of this painting. I just about gasped at the final version. Thank you so much for this wonderfully helpful post. I appreciate your generosity in sharing the steps. It’s such a good point you made about not making the boys more detailed than the rest of the painting. It’s so easy to get bogged down in details. A wonderful painting.


  8. luba Kolomycky says:

    Nope , not yet

    Sent from Luba’s iPhone


  9. karim waked says:

    Awesome piece again my dear!

    xx stay close tonight you two xx



  10. Ron Miller says:

    That is a great blog entry. For those of us who are trying to improve it is invaluable to have a step by step demo!


  11. joantav says:

    Shari, thank you so much for showing some of your steps so we can visualize how you did this marvelous painting. I love the variety of colors in the sheds and the shadows!!! Well done!


  12. rosjenke says:

    Shari, you are absolutely my hero. I can’t believe how each post gets better. I would love to paint with you one day but it’s just a dream.


  13. Monique says:

    It’s glad you added the boys!!


  14. ruben toledo says:

    Hi, I love art in general, but painting it is near to me, I love your paints and method of watercolor
    paints. Waiting for your new book……………


  15. Diane McDaniel says:

    i love the step by step. We learn (maybe its just me) from the process, progression. You are a
    great teacher. Love the painting, keep up the GREAT work,


  16. Bernadette says:

    I’m grateful for your kindness in showing such detailed progress of this painting… is an absolutely wonderful painting! I flip back and forth through the progression hoping my eye will remember when I paint, what you have taught.


  17. Showing your process is a very generous gift, thank you!


  18. designsweet says:

    Step by step is soooo useful. I’m never sure how to tackle scenes like this. Lovely work!


  19. Émilie says:

    Pouvons-nous acheter « Villeray Lane? »


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