Watercolor demonstration- Asian ruins

The internet is fantastic due to the wealth of painting information.  Years ago, when I took painting classes in college, the only way to learn was to watch students, ask professors, buy books, and read magazines.  However, there were few demonstrations in books and magazines, and I was left trying to figure watercolor through trial and error.

Now, you can google “watercolor demonstration” and be treated to thousands of lessons on individual websites and youtube.

In appreciation of websites I have viewed, I would like to talk about my processes.

Based on an old slide I shot at the Bagan/Pagan ruins in northern Myanmar (Burma), I developed this line drawing:

Obviously, I took out several elements of the photograph and simplified the temples for compositional purposes.

I masked several areas of the foreground field and lines on the temple.  Next, I floated (wet-into-wet) a mix of warm colors- rose madder, yellow-ochre, transparent yellow, and burnt sienna.  Salt was added to provide texture.

My next step was to negative paint the sky.  I was unhappy with this step as several of the wet-into-wet streaks ended too watery and several hard edges were formed.  However, I was confident that defining the foreground would “hide” these blemishes.

The mask was removed and I began to define the temples and foreground foliage.

Cobalt blue was added to the temples & foreground.  Amazing how the sky from the previous two photographs recedes into the background, huh?  This is an optical illusion- all images were photographed at the same settings.  The difference is the complementary color of the temple & darker values added.

Finally, I added a few details to the temples and a suggestion of trees in the left-hand side.

The finished piece was a loose interpretation of the original photograph.  I used the photograph as a reference, and chose the complementary color palette to reflect my memories of the scorching sun and heat at Bagan.  A happy ending to a painting session. 🙂


Ryan Fox


(919) 645-8345




1 Responses to Watercolor demonstration- Asian ruins

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *