Begin with blue

I rode my bike to my favourite sketching spot along the canal in Sanibel to sketch some boats at the marina. I spent a moment thinking about the process for this sketch before I put brush to paint. The first step in a sketch like this is to paint a light wash of blue over almost everything. I begin with the sky and move right down into the water, leaving whites only where the lightest parts of the boats will be.

Why does blue work as an underpainting for this sketch? Because in a scene like this, almost everything has blue in it. The palm fronds are a blue/green, the distant trees have blue in them and the shadows on the boats are blue. A unifying wash of blue ties everything together, and hopefully creates colour harmony in the sketch. Highlights of red, white and pale yellow are added later, but with an opaque paint that I know will sit on top of the transparent colours.

The only thing I didn’t manage to capture in this sketch is the dolphin that surfaced just a few feet from the dock I was sitting on.

7 Comments on “Begin with blue”

  1. Barry Remley says:

    What’s the opaque paint you used over the blue wash ?


  2. Heli Naik says:

    beautiful! I also wish to go to places and sit down there and paint.


  3. miatagrrl says:

    I love it when you share tips like this! I would not have been able to figure out why your painting “seems” so beautifully blue, but now I know.


  4. Marylin Smith says:

    It’s gorgeous Shari….thank you for sharing…


  5. Good Afternoon dear Shari,

    Very beautiful and I love that water shades and also the boats.
    A very pleasant sketch.
    Thanks for sharing this lovely sketch.
    Regards and blessings.


  6. I really like the blue underpainting, your colours look very natural.


  7. joantav says:

    You are so generous with your painting knowledge. Thank you. I would never have thought of a blue underpainting, but it worked well for you.


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