In this demo, Sharon Pitts shares how the strategic placement of complementary and analogous hues adds a sense of vitality to the composition.
Sharon Pitts paints watercolors in a style that makes the most of the variety of color and shape in the natural world. Her watercolor paintings of nature — trees, flowers, nests — are done in a representational style with abstract qualities. Vivid color draws the viewer into her paintings of nature featuring tangles of branches, petals, and leaves that burst of saturated backgrounds. In this watercolor demo of her painting Nest II, Tuscany, Pitts shares how the strategic placement of complementary and analogous hues adds a sense of vitality to the composition.
Sharon Pitts’ Toolkit
- PAINTS: Pitts prefers different brands of paint for different colors, which she tracks in a notebook.
- BRUSHES: The artist likes rounds, especially Isabey. “There’s something about the weight, the amount of paint they can hold, the points, the various sizes and shapes — I love that brand,” she says. She’ll use small brushes for details, but isn’t afraid to use larger brushes. “I love to pick up a big No. 12 and use just the point of it. It changes the way I paint, and it makes my work fresher and more fun.”
Painting Nest II, Tuscany: A Demo
I used a 3H pencil to sketch the basic layout, ensuring the lines weren’t too specific. I added masking fluid to save delicate linear areas and shapes and then slowly began painting along and among the lines of the sketch.
I sketched additional areas where necessary to strengthen the composition. I then painted sections around the nest, emphasizing balance of color.
I continued building up lines and shapes, observing how the primary elements began to emerge from the secondary elements.
I used complementary colors in areas that I wanted to emphasize and bring forward; I applied analogous colors where I felt the areas needed to be subdued.
To maintain definition, I painted wet next to dry for lines and shapes. Note how the colors and shapes affect one another and contribute to the flow of the subject.
Once I determined that the composition had a strong presence, I painted the background in Nest II, Tuscany.
About the Artist
Sharon Pitts holds a B.A. in plastic and graphic arts from the University of Illinois, Chicago, and has studied at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts, the Barnes Foundation and Montclair State University. Her work is featured in collections throughout the United States and in numerous exhibitions, and she is listed in Who’s Who in American Art. As an instructor, she teaches at the Montclair Art Museum, in Montclair, N.J., and gives workshops around the world. Learn more at sharonpitts.com.
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A version of this article was originally published in Watercolor Artist magazine.