Linda DuPuis-Rosen
Wildlife in Watercolor

Art Lessons


Lesson 3
Find a simple picture, (your own).
- Turn it upside down, now draw what you see not what you know. Check for correctness by looking at negative and positive spaces (my subject is the positive space and the background around the subject is the negative space).
- As you draw, keep your pencil marks light and try to move quickly. Once you feel that the proportions are right you can start to darken the lines so you have a good guideline for the painting. I often continue to make corrections as I am painting.
- Once you feel it is starting to look like your picture then turn it right side up.

- Now start with your initial wash to establish your base colors (your underpainting). This part takes time as you should be referencing your photo frequently and making corrections as you go slowly along.

- Once you have your underpainting you start all over again but now you can work quickly because you have a clear map of the colors and direction of the painting.

- Continue to work manageable areas. Allow each layer to dry before adding the next. Often in dark areas I have applied 4 to 7 layers. Each section may take a good amount of time to do so stay focused and watch out for the temptation to just put paint down and hope it will work. Keep control of your colors and your direction. Watercolors dry lighter then what you put on wet so you may often need to make your paint color darker or more vibrant than you think it should be.

- Now I will use more paint and less water and only work in manageable sections. I had divided this painting into 7 sections. Try not to dilute areas with just water after you have put you paint down. At this point you should be building up color not taking away.

- I made a few color changes from the original photo, as I wanted to play up their pinks, blues and purples. The water values were slightly changed to keep the focus on the main hippo.

My husband and I were guided on foot to this remote river in Zambia to photograph this pod of hippos. We spent several hours taking pictures and studying individual hippos and how they reacted in a social group. They may appear quite cute but they are very territorial and dangerous. I have been told that more people are killed by hippos than any other wild animal in Africa. My goal for this painting and the series to follow is to show their beauty and social interactions.