Shapes, Lines & Color

All images ©Bivenne Staiger

Here’s a graded wash for a clear blue sky, painted by quickly adding blue in a cream consistency to dry paper at top and letting it bleed into wet paper at the bottom of its shape; sky takes up about two thirds of this composition. The bottom third is dominated by long horizontal lines of sea and rocks and broken by some shorter vertical ones. Horizontal line directions convey a feeling of calm and stability.

All images ©Bivenne Staiger

A pale, pink-gray wash is next quickly and roughly applied (especially at the bottom), and once dry, the distant coast is laid in in a dirty blue-green of coffee consistency. The brush barely touches the paper at the top of the latter’s silhouette. A thin line of peachy-yellow, painted dry-on-wet, suggests its rocky shoreline.

All images ©Bivenne Staiger

Rock shapes are now roughly blocked in with a creamier consistency of the rocks’ initial wash, with care taken to save highlights, or their lit surfaces. Note that the pink color varies from cool and bluer to warm and yellower and is also skimmed across the paper’s surface here and there for textural effects.

All images ©Bivenne Staiger

The sea and darker shadows begin to define specific rock shapes. Since rocks are hard, solid objects, their shadows and negative space shapes must be painted wet-on-dry and layer by value layer. Probably ten or more such layers were painted in many places. Soft-edged shapes and color variation are snuck in within shadows, none of which are painted with black.

Ah, Acadia! Watercolor, 15×22″ ©Bivenne Staiger 2020

A vertical line direction and dark tree shapes left of center balance the dominant horizontal lines and pale rock shapes. Richer washes of orange and shape definition not only seem to bring life to the rocks but tie the whole painting together.

2 thoughts on “Shapes, Lines & Color

  1. Hi Bivenne,Your painting really made me smile – We spent some time in Acadia Park a few years ago and I have this scene hanging in our house as a reminder of that beautiful place. Bet I could take you right to it.  Wish I had your lesson first though because my rocks are a little “blobby”. (It’s an acrylic) Thank you so, so much for sending these lessons out in this difficult time.  I’ve learned something every time.Jo


    1. You’re so welcome, Jo! Yes, this is a truly wonderful, special place, one of America’s gems! I love exploring the many tidepools created by the waves and filled with creatures stuck in them…


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