Bill Breckon, owner of The Watermill at Posara, the world-renowned centre for the arts in rural Tuscany, Italy (www.watermill.net) sends me this lovely step-by-step guide for anyone who’s ever wanted to try to capture those wonderful Italian roofs with their paintbrush. Bill says:
Leslie Fehling, one of America’s leading sketching book artists and a Watermill tutor , is coming to The Watermill this year to lead a unique ten-day painting holiday, called Creating your own watercolour travel journal. Participants will spend three days in glorious Florence PLUS a week-long painting workshop at the mill and in the beautiful surrounding Tuscan countryside. She has sent me some tips vital for painting in Italy: how to capture those terracotta tile roofs.
Leslie says: “Red-orange terracotta roofs are a distinctive part of the Tuscan landscape, as typical as rolling hills, vineyards and cypress trees. They add a bright spot of colour to a painting, and often may be indicated with nothing more than a splash of burnt sienna. The rusty red colour sings in a landscape filled with its complement, green.
“When sketching distant views that include clay tile roofs, I paint them very simply…
“For a mid-range view, like the sketch below, a bit more detail can be added to suggest the dips between vertical rows of tiles. A few quick brush strokes serve to indicate individual tiles here and there. There’s no need to paint them all.
“The only time you’ll need to worry about including more details is when you’re focusing in on a roof in the foreground of your sketch. In that case, here’s an approach you may want to try:
· Study the roof and note any irregularities – a broken or crooked tile, an area that’s moss-covered, etc. You’ll want to include those unique details in your sketch. You’re not just painting any roof, you’re painting this particular roof.
· Do a preliminary sketch in pencil. This is your chance to figure out the angles and spacing of the roof tiles.
· Ink the sketch, if desired. (I used a Pigma Micron 01 black pen for the sketch shown here.) There’s no need to trace over every pencil line or to draw every tile.
· Erase unwanted pencil lines.
· Paint a variegated wash for your base color, which will be the lightest tones on the tiles.
· Use warm colors such as Winsor Orange, Burnt Sienna, Alizarin Crimson, Raw Sienna, Quinacridone Gold, or Burnt Umber.
· Touch the lower edge of the wash with a wet brush and allow some of the color to bleed onto the wall below. This will help to unify the painting.
· Add a pale warm tone to the wall, if desired.
· Add varying mid-tones to areas of the roof or to individual tiles.
· Paint a variegated base wash of greys, browns, and yellow ochre for the building’s stone walls.
· Begin painting shadows. I used several different color combinations for shadows, like Ultramarine Blue + Rose Violet (or Quinacridone Violet) + Burnt Umber (or Burnt Sienna or Quinacridone Gold)
· Add shadows between vertical rows of tiles.
· Add shadows at the base of individual tiles. Vary the color and darkness of the shadows, so the tiles don’t look too uniform.
· Paint the shadow under the bottom row of tiles.
· Paint any support boards or eaves that show under the bottom row of tiles. (In the photo I worked from, a horizontal support board showed below the last row of tiles.)
· Begin painting the stone wall, indicating mortar joints.
· Use a natural sponge to dab on some color to indicate texture on the wall.
· Add any other detailing to the wall. (My photo showed bricks on the corners of the building, half-covered with mortar, so I painted them at this point.)
· Paint the darkest shadows on the tile roof.
· Add a touch of very dark shadow color under the bottom row of tiles.
· Paint the shaded side of the building with a purple-grey wash. (Ultramarine Blue + Quinacridone Violet or Rose Violet + a touch of Burnt Sienna or Burnt Umber to tone it down)
· Use the same purple-grey to paint the shadow under the roof overhang. Run a clean, damp brush along the lower edge of the shadow to soften the line.
· Add any final spots of color to the painting.
· Lift highlights on the roof tiles with a damp brush, if needed.