The process of watercolour painting of “Mike and Henry” – written by Ako Lamble

Watercolour painting by Ako Lamble. "Mike and Henry" process

How the watercolour painting was started and finished.

Ako LambleWritten by Ako Lamble

Hi Everyone, Some of you have already known that I had been obsessed with watercolour painting for a while. I would like to share with you the process of how I did the watercolour painting of Mike and Henry in my sketchbook.

I was very surprised to know that I received so many good responses when I posted the painting on my Facebook. More than 230 people altogether clicked Like button (I posted it on a couple of art groups on Facebook as well). Never happened that many before. I presume that so many dog lovers were out there and the painting touched a soft spot. Also comments such as how they liked the tones and the sensitivity of my style of painting.

I will tell you that there were mistakes and happy accidents during the process which lead to discovering new techniques, I loved the experience. That’s why watercolour is so addictive for me.

Photo "Mike and Henry" in 2006

Mike and Henry(rhodesian ridgeback) in 2006.

This is the photo I chose and put up on my computer screen for a reference to paint from. I wanted to test the new colour arrangement of my travel palette so I picked the photo without thinking too much.

Watercolour painting by Ako Lamble "Mike and Henry" Process1

At this point, I just wanted to test the colours.

I usually do a pencil drawing or pen drawing before applying the colour to the paper, but this time I just wanted to test the colours, so I went straight to paint. I make a lot of colour swatches in my sketchbook, so I thought this was one of them, then I went to bed.

Watercolour painting by Ako Lamble "Mike and Henry" Process2
Watercolour painting by Ako Lamble "Mike and Henry" Process3

Next morning, my mind and eyes are as fresh as the morning dew. When I saw the paint marks in the sketchbook which I made the previous night, I thought I could do much more, so picked up a 2B pencil and started drawing over it, then put more colours on it. Oh, by the way, around 30% of the intensity of the colour would be faded when the paint has dried.

Watercolour painting by Ako Lamble "Mike and Henry" Process4

I was struggling to shape Mike’s hand and arm.

I started using some watercolour pencils to draw details. This was the area you can see where I was struggling to shape Mike’s hand and arm. I also realised that there was not enough space between Mike and Henry and Mike was slightly smaller than the actual size.

Watercolour painting by Ako Lamble "Mike and Henry" Process5
Watercolour painting by Ako Lamble "Mike and Henry" Process6

I tried to ignore Mike’s arm and carried on the areas I could deal with.
I have a good habit of taking photos of my painting/drawing with my iPhone during the process. Not just for sake of keeping records, I do it for checking my painting. It’s much easier to find the faults when you see it in thumbnail size. Checking the values, shapes and even colours.

Watercolour painting by Ako Lamble "Mike and Henry" Process7

This is the painting I posted on my Facebook and received more than 230 clicks on Like button.

Now, this was the point the happy accident had happened. When I saw the painting through the iPhone thumbnail size, I instinctively dropped a generous amount of the background colour over Mike’s arm, I actually did it holding iphone in my left hand and holding a brush in my right hand.

You don’t know how excited I was, I knew I did the right thing. Not just hiding my crappy drawing but it gave a clear focal point on Mike’s face.

I stopped there and posted it on Facebook. I don’t know exactly, but it took about 40 min to come to this point since I started a pencil drawing that morning.

Watercolour painting by Ako Lamble "Mike and Henry" touched up with iPad.

I used Procreate app with iPad to paint shadow over Henry’s legs to see how it looks like.

Since I decided to write about the painting, I wanted to do a little experiment. This is a good chance to use the iPad to simulate the casting shadow over Henry’s legs before actually painting on it. I was quite happy with the result.

Watercolour painting by Ako Lamble. "Mike and Henry" process

You can lift some colours from the watercolour painting.

I mainly did three things;

  1. Darken a part of Henry’s legs as if there were a casting shadow.
  2. Lifted some colours and painted lightly Mike’s arm and hand which was diffrent form from the photo.
  3. Put more details of Henry’s face, including highlights (with a gel pen) and his collar.

So many people think that watercolour is difficult and unforgiving, but I disagree with that. As you see, I could redo Mike’s arm and hand after covering the dark colour. Yes, there are some restrictions but watercolour is much more versatile than you may think.

Watercolour painting by Ako Lamble. "Mike and Henry" process

Left:the one I posted on Facebook. Right: The final piece.

I’ve employed a new habit of asking myself two questions each time when I finished my painting/drawing. I encourage my students to do the same in my class.

Q1. What is the most I like about the painting/drawing?
Q2. What is the most I would like to improve about the painting/drawing?

I will answer the two questions on this piece.

A1. I liked/enjoyed when I instinctively painted over Mike’s arm, it worked well to hide my crappy drawing, also to give a clear focal point on Mike’s face.
A2. Definitely better drawing of the hand!


Art Materials for watercolour painting of "Mike and Henry" by Ako Lamble

I have a few different sizes and shapes of sketch book. I keep “in-case sketchbook” in every places.

Art materials I used

Some of you might want to know the art materials I used, here is the list of them.
From the right to the left shown in the above image.

  • Sketchbook: Stillmand & Brin Alpha series 150gsm A5size
  • Mechanical pencil: 2mm 2B
  • Watercolour pencil: Caran d”Ache Museum Aquarelle (3510 640) Dark Ultramarine
  • Watercolour pencil: Caran d”Ache Museum Aquarelle (3510 661) Light cobalt blue
  • Watercolour pencil: Caran d”Ache Museum Aquarelle (3510 850) Cornelian
  • Watercolour pencil: Caran d”Ache Museum Aquarelle (3510 009) Black
  • Watercolour pencil: Caran d”Ache Museum Aquarelle (3510 077) Burnt Ochre
  • Round Brush: Escoda Kolinsky Sable Pocket Size 8
  • Aquarelle Dagger Travel Brush 1/4″
  • Uni-Ball UM-153 1.0mm Broad gel pen WHITE ink
  • Watercolour: My current travel palette 23colours.
  1. Helio turquoise: Shcmincke (PB16)
  2. Phthalo green: Daniel Smith (PG7)
  3. Ultramarine blue: Daniel Smith (PG29)
  4. Perylene maroon: Daniel Smith (PR179)
  5. Cerulean blue chromium: Daniel Smith (PB36)
  6. Cerulean blue: Daniel Smith (PB35)
  7. Quinacridone burnt scarlet: Daniel Smith (PR206)
  8. Delft blue: Shcmincke (PB60)
  9. Goethite brown ochre: Daniel Smith (PY43)
  10. Transparent red oxide: Daniel Smith (PR101)
  11. Lunar black: Daniel Smith (PBk11)
  12. Cobalt teal blue: Daniel Smith (PG50)
  13. Translucent Orange: Shcmincke (PO71)
  14. Transparent pyrrol orange: Daniel Smith (PO71)
  15. Pyrrol orange: Daniel Smith (PO73)
  16. New gamboge: Daniel Smith (PY153)
  17. Hansa yellow medium: Daniel Smith (PY97)
  18. Translucent Yellow: Shcmincke (PY150)
  19. Quinacridone gold: Daniel Smith (PO49)
  20. Indian red: Daniel Smith (PR101)
  21. Pyrrol red: Daniel Smith (PR254)
  22. Opera pink: Daniel Smith (PR122)
  23. Quinacridone gold: Daniel Smith (PO49)

I hope this blog artcle will inspire you to do watercolour if you haven’t done for a long time.
I started my watercolour for beginners weekly classes on Tuesday afternoon and Friday afternoon. Also The workshops on Saturday will begin. If you are interested in joining, let me know (info[at]art-art.com.au).

Beginners Watercolour with Line & Wash, weekly art class with Ako Lamble
Beginners Watercolour with Line & Wash, weekly classes with Ako Lamble
(Tue 1-3pm): $340 per term [10weeks] / $40 per casual
(Fri 1.30-3.30pm): $340 per term [10weeks] / $40 per casual
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Beginners Watercolour with Line & Wash, weekly art class with Ako Lamble
Beginners Watercolour Workshop with Ako Lamble
(Sat 10am-3pm): $150 per workshop (All art materials will be supplied for the workshop.)
More Details >>