Watercolor batik of Stonehenge ruins in UK- tutorial

My recent painting of Stonehenge was based on photographs I shot years ago while visiting the monument.  The original pictures were shot in the evening, but I was inspired to paint the ruins in a moonlit scene.

Watercolor batik on rice paper of Stonehenge- UK by Raleigh, NC artist Ryan Fox

I began by doing a sketch on top of the rice paper.  Since I paint with high contrast values, I make sure to use dark enough lines (generally with a 2H pencil) so I can see the pencil marks once I start applying paint.

Watercolor batik on rice paper of Stonehenge- UK by Raleigh, NC artist Ryan Fox

My first wash was localized color.  I have not added any wax to the rice paper yet.  Rice paper has no sizing and the color will spread if you use a lot of water.  To control unwanted bleeding,  I use paper towels to dab the paper dry.

Watercolor batik on rice paper of Stonehenge- UK by Raleigh, NC artist Ryan Fox

I applied my first layer of wax to the lightest areas.  Since this is a moonlit scene with lower contrast, I wil not have any pure whites showing.

I proceeded to paint the entire surface with a medium value mixture of green/blue.

Watercolor batik on rice paper of Stonehenge- UK by Raleigh, NC artist Ryan Fox

The next stage was to apply wax to more of the monument and the foreground.   A darker mixture of blue and greens were applied to the entire surface.  At this point you can see the separation of the lightest values.

When I work on rice paper I often “throw” random bits of color on the surface, encouraging the eye to move throughout the piece.  You can see little specks of red applied to the sky and foreground. (more…)

2014 Georgia Watercolor Society XXXV National Exhibition

My 1/2 sheet painting “Kathmandu Street” was accepted in the 2014 Georgia Watercolor Society National Exhibition.

Kathmandu watercolor, Nepal painting, watercolor Nepal

This painting is an example of “poured watercolor”.   I masked the whitest whites of the piece and  poured watered-down solutions of reds,yellows, and blues on top of the surface.  Tilting the paper allows the colors to blend and flow in certain areas.  A spray bottle also helps blend colors or remove paint from the wet surface.

After each layer dries you add more masking fluid.  You continually add more color until reaching the desired value.

The next layer of poured paint is applied.  The sequence continues until you  reach the darkest darks.

I learned this process from Roland Roycraft, a fantastic Michigan artist who I took a workshop from years ago, and most recently, Linda Baker, a South Carolina artist well known for poured watercolor pieces.  I have never taken Linda’s workshops, but I have found information on the internet.

I was particularly proud of this painting since I had ankle surgery less than two weeks prior and was unable to move around without crutches.

Typically, I move  a lot when I paint.  I  stand back and observe the painting from a distance.  I turn the painting upside down (helping me concentrate on shape and value to judge the composition).  I procrastinate.  Then I paint.

Sitting still was a different matter.

Since the “unwanted” paint was sprayed off, I was left, with one leg, to mop up the pools of paint lying on my kitchen floor.

What fun.

I did have a good time.  I was real happy with the final piece.  My original photograph resembles the painting in many ways- except for the colors.  The original photograph is a morning photograph; less contrast, low-key lighting.  I changed the painting to a hi-key sunrise/sunset.

The exhibition opens March 7th at Carrollton Cultural Arts Center.

Hope to see you there.


Ryan Fox

(919) 645-8345


Fine Art America- Fine Art Reproductions & Original Paintings


Commissioned work

My first two commissioned pieces were paintings I did for my German friends married in Switzerland at the Hospiz Grimsel (paintings below).

Watercolor painting of Swiss Alps rising above architecture of Grimsel Hospiz at Grimsel Pass- Switzerland, Europe

Watercolor painting of Hospiz Grimsel surrounded by Swiss alps in the country of Switzerland

These full sheet watercolors (22×30″) were based on photographs I shot in Switzerland.

While I wasn’t paid for these images (they were their wedding gifts), the idea was the same as a commission- I knew what they wanted, we talked composition & colors, and the final watercolor paintings were based on their specifications.

Recently, I was hired by Betsy Bardi of Bardi Designs to create a smaller replica of the Raleigh Skyline batik available on my Etsy storefront:

Watercolor batik of Raleigh skyline(Original watercolor batik of Raleigh downtown skyline)

This was a little more difficult to execute because the original painting is 20×32″.  Betsy’s clients were looking for a 12×15″, which usually isn’t an issue.  Except when you dealing with hot, dripping wax…


My first attempt at recreating the painting produced the painting above.  I needed to get smaller brushes for the wax.  My second attempt turned out much better:


It is more difficult to match the details of the original when working smaller.  Wax has a tendency to spread on rice paper because there is no sizing.  You need to apply the wax  1/8″ from the line you want to preserve.

I managed to complete these pieces over the holidays- even with the in-laws in town.

Currently, I am working on another painting for Bardi Designs.  My commissioned work will not be sold as giclees on my online storefronts.   These are original and unique watercolors.

Please contact me if you are interested in an original painting for Valentine’s Day, birthdays, or any occasion.


Ryan Fox

R. Fox Photo/Arts

Etsy Storefront– fine art giclees

Fine Art America– watercolor, canvas, and metallic prints

Waverly Arts Group- gallery in Cary, NC

Last month I was approached by Gary Bradley, the owner of Waverly Arts Group in Cary, NC.  Gary had several openings in the studio and asked me if I was interested in joining the gallery and displaying my watercolors.

So I thought for half-a-second:

“Hum, this is the gallery where Dan Nelson (the guy who paints with two hands), Rocky Alexander, Sonia Kane,Gary,  David Stickel, and other great RTP artists are represented.”

It was a no-brainer.

I am  now a member of the Waverly Arts Group.

Watercolor painting of ballerinaWatercolor painting of Chapel at Duke University- Chapel Hill, NCPaintings_gallery_WAG(My sister-in-law standing below her portrait)

Stop by the gallery to view a selection of my latest watercolor paintings: from subjects such as ballerinas, Mayan ruins of Tikal, Bodie Island lighthouse, etc..  My watercolors are painted on traditional watercolor paper and YUPO synthetic paper, which is a nice way to say PLASTIC (but it looks cool!)

Join us for Final Fridays at the art gallery.  Great art, conversation, and wine.


Ryan Fox

R. Fox Photo/Arts


(919) 645-8345





Watercolor demonstration- Big Ben painted on YUPO synthetic paper

Months ago I began a series of watercolor paintings on YUPO synthetic paper.  “Synthetic” meaning plastic.

Painting on a plastic surface with watercolor is tough.  The surface takes a long time to dry.  You can layer but with difficulty.  Oil from finger prints creates a resist for paint (run a cloth with a light application of rubbing alcohol over the surface to remove the oil).  However, you can remove the surface paint at any time and get back to the original white of the “paper”.

I began the watercolor painting of Big Ben (Clock Tower) on a “rainbow” surface I prepared months ago.

When I create my YUPO abstract surfaces, I put 3-5 pieces on my kitchen floor, wet the tops of the suface, and proceed to walk around the kitchen throwing paint onto the paper randomly.  Spattering colors into the puddles encourages color mixing.

I mop up puddles that collect too much water with a squirrel mop watercolor brush.  Additionally, I throw salt onto the surface when it has partially dried to develop texture, as well as rubbing alcohol spritzed with a sprayer.  Rubbing alcohol repels the watercolor.

This was the abstract image I began with:

Watercolor painting of Big Ben (Clock Tower) on YUPO synthetic paper

My next step and the most difficult part of painting in this manner is finding the “right” image for the paper.  Once dried, I view the paper from different angles until something comes to mind.

In this case- after many months, I saw a silhouette of Big Ben in London.

I drew the image onto the paper and began painting.

The finished result:

Watercolor painting of Big Ben (Clock Tower) on YUPO synthetic paper

Layering YUPO is difficult because you cannot run your brush over a dried layer more than once.  If you do, you will watch the underlying layer lift off the surface and blend with the colors being painted.

I painted the silhouettes of the background buildings & bridge quickly- lots of water and dark colors.

Big Ben, however, I spent several hours painting.  I tried to introduce the colors of the sky into the iconic tower.

I need to re-photograph the image since all the darks reflect light.  I’ll post the final when I photograph it properly and remove the light reflections.

Happy holidays and email if you have any questions/comments/donations.


Ryan Fox


R. Fox Photo/Arts

R. Fox Watercolors on etsy.com

Fine Art America– canvas, metallic, and fine art prints