Sea Turtle

I’ve been looking at ripples in water. They fascinate me. Yes, I love waves, sea foam, reflections but ripples… I was trying to imagine how I could paint them.

I went online to and started looking at reference photos. This one fascinated me – how could I paint something like this?

Then I thought, how about something like a sea turtle swimming through the clear water with the ripples breaking as he passed? Another reference photo.

Photo of a turtle

There was another reference photo I used but I can’t find now that showed ripples on the shore and had more direction than the one above. I love the colors and noted that only the top of the ripples/waves/whatever word works are the only real white areas.

My thought was to mask the very tops then lay down a light wash of Quin. Gold – it’s an ugly color to me but in a light wash, it looks like just a touch of sun (affiliate link).

I mask out an outline of the turtle – using the above but moving the head and limbs around a bit – and some ripples.

Watercolor in progress

Here is the Quin Gold wash. Just a touch of sunlight.

Watercolor on paper

When the gold wash was dry, I put down a layer of Cerulean Blue and Terre Verte . The shadow under the turtle and the deeper blue areas are Mayan Blue. Mayan is a “Primatek” color that is a very green blue and granulates like crazy. In the correct area, it looks great (affiliate links).

Watercolor on paper

Check out the granulation.

Watercolor on paper

In addition, after laying down the wash, I took a Q-Tip and went over a few areas around the masking fluid to lighten them up and in an effort to make them look more dimensional.

Watercolor on paper

Removing the mask.

Watercolor on paper

It’s OK for a first try at ripples. I go over them a little with a damp brush to soften the harsh edges, mask out the turtle and start giving him a paint.

Watercolor on paper

Detail of the turtle – I am getting an area wet then dropping in Mayan Blue, Quin. Sienna and a little Jadeite. The colors all run together and the Mayan Blue granulates out into any wet area.

Watercolor on paper

And here is the shell – painted the same way. Mostly I covered it with Mayan Blue then dribbled the sienna down the middle and around the edges, then going in with a little Jadeite.

Watercolor on paper

Here it is a little closer. You can see all the separate colors.

Watercolor on paper

After the head was done and all was dry, I removed the mask and go over the mask lines with a wet brush to soften them.

I went ahead and signed this one – in watercolor – as it was so delicate that I did not want the signature to dominate.

Watercolor in progress

Then I looked at it. And looked at it… should the head be facing down? Have I made a terrible mistake? I posted this on my FB page with the head up, the head down, landscape and portrait and this one won. I kinda agree. I went over the signature with a Q-tip and signed again… and it’s a done deal.

Now, one thing I learned from this is I did another painting after this with ripples – practicing water some more – using the same colors and it turned out… limp and dull. The difference is I did not do the undercoat of Quin Gold. You can’t really see it here but it makes a huge difference in the final product.

I try to learn from every painting and this one taught me the magic of a light background wash under the final painting.

So whatda’ think? Did I chose the right orientation?

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