One of the really hard things for me about learning watercolors is that they work in mirror image from the other kinds of art I've done. With pastels, I would rub black into the paper underneath everything but the sky. That way I would have a lovely, rich depth when I pulled lighter colors over the top. The lights were always the last thing to be added.
With watercolors being transparent, though, you have to leave all your light bits light from the very beginning. With this carousel painting, I wanted the gold lights to really glow. I did the gold first so I couldn't forget.
Halfway through I'd done the sky and gotten the middle tones laid in.
The last thing to do were the actual dark tones, to make the lights really pop. This has gotten easier over the last few years, but I still have to talk sternly to myself about remembering if I have a painting with the highlights needing extra care.
Martha Kelly is an artist and illustrator who lives and works in Memphis, Tennessee.
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