Ken Tolmie’s Watercolour Technique

1. Stretching the Paper
2. The Drawing
3. Background Wash
4. Underpainting
5. The Long and Winding Road
6. The Coup de Grâce

A tour of the artistic process by Ken Tolmie

A watercolour as complex and detailed as Florentine Window (right) overwhelms the eye: the viewer perceives the object or scene that the image portrays, but is not aware of the discrete elements that combine to create the image.

Even close scrutiny reveals information about only a single element of the picture; it does not show the viewer the numerous stages of development through which the picture went, in many of which stages the painting’s ultimate realist character is nowhere to be found. A well executed realist watercolour is a form of magic: viewers are aware of the illusion, but cannot see how the illusion is created. How does the artist deceive the eye into seeing the three-dimensional object that he represents rather than the strokes of paint on a flat plane? Ken Tolmie explains the watercolour technique that he has developed over 40 years.

Step One