The edge of the pond

I thought a lot about how to tackle this big area of foreground grass before I put a brush to paper. I don’t use masking fluid or any other form of resist in my watercolours but I wanted light areas in the grass as well as a sense of movement created by the wind coming across the pond AND depth within the grass, without being overly detailed.

My first wash was a light tone of grass colour (mostly Raw Sienna), with lots of white showing through. I tried to think about the movement of crisscrossing lines that would remain light all the way to the end of the painting, so I left some unpainted areas for that. When that bigger shape dried I started to fill in the shapes with other grasses, both behind and in front of the first shape. Then I used a lot of negative painting and smaller darks to add depth to the shapes, using increasingly finer lines. The final step in the grasses was to paint a few strokes of Buff Titanium as well as Titanium White on areas that needed highlights. It was a really good exercise in creating texture.

36 Comments on “The edge of the pond”

  1. bernadette says:

    Beautifully rendered! I like looking at the complexities of your woven colors that create great depth in the woven thicket. This takes lots of patience and time as well as skill. Your careful strokes are beautifully placed. I spent a long time looking, hoping to learn to do this myself.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Bernadette, thanks for having a long look at this. I really did get lost in the details and even though I don’t always have the patience to do this, I enjoyed painting the complexities of the grass.


  2. Delores Steinlicht says:

    Success in getting the lightness and feeling of wind. Lovely painting.


  3. Katie Roberts says:

    Beautiful! This (grasses) would be a good subject for a class.


  4. Mary says:

    Just beautiful! This would be a good subject for a class! I am so enjoying your classes by the way & I have learned so much. I am always in awe of how fearless you are with watercolour. I always look forward to your posts! Thank you for sharing.

    Liked by 2 people

  5. Sharon Monson says:

    Just beautiful !


  6. Jason Mullins says:

    Strong work! Love the depth you created within the cattail reeds and leaving some white space. Background, middle ground(paper) and weeds. I see a sunny but cold day. Great colors. That’s why your one of my favs!


  7. Sue Ferrell says:

    The dried grasses look great! I often struggle with this type of foreground.


  8. LisebGauthier says:

    super nice! as a photo!


  9. This is just gorgeous! Love all the detail that gives the grass so much texture!


  10. Margaret Horak says:

    Good lessons there! Love the outcome.


  11. Joyce Smith says:

    Beautiful, so much depth in the grasses. Joyce

    Sent from my iPad



  12. Mary S says:

    Wonderful foreground! Must have taken
    considerable time, but si worth it!


  13. I LOVE this post! Describing your process helps me think through similar challenges like winter deciduous trees. Thank you thank you Shari! I am grateful for all of the on-line classes and tips I have from you!!


  14. Judy Sopher says:

    I also love this one. What brush did you use for the finer lines?


  15. okaypolliwog says:

    Hi Shari!

    Just wanted to let you know how much I love this one! As a fellow watercolorist, I know how very difficult it is to achieve the texture that you did in the foreground. You make it sound easy – but I know it isn’t! Really well-observed, and also great job keeping the strokes random — not inadvertently creating a human-made pattern — but still natural. Thanks for sharing!

    Amelia Hansen Kalamazoo, Michigan



  16. Caroline Greene says:

    So helpful to read your description, Shari. I saw this AFTER I’d done a similar-ish sketch at a nature reserve en plein air. I just couldn’t work out how to capture exactly as you describe it, the sense of dried rushes moving in the light breeze, and I even looked through your past posts for inspiration. It was a grey day and I ended up with a rather flat sketch and a bit overworked too. I don’t like the effect with masking fluid and I’ll set out with some white in my palette and study your painting carefully! Thank you for the guidance.


  17. Caroline Greene says:

    P.S. Re-reading it, I realise that the negative painting with dark paint to indicate the gaps and bring out the reed stalks’ shapes is super-important and I need to develop a bit more patience!


  18. Nieves Stern says:

    Shari, this is a beautiful painting, thank you so much for all your explanations. I can see it is so important to plan before puting the brush on the paper . I too would love a lesson/course on this type of subjects.


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