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Leicester Square watercolour demo.

Following the recent trip to London, I produced a painting of Leicester Square in the heart of the City. I wanted to share the process on how this painting was created, along with a description of the stages that led to the finished piece.

A view of Leicester Square in London, England
" Leicester Square ", London

I began with the initial drawing which was accurate, but not with much detail. Once happy with the initial drawing stage I moved on to the washes. I find that building up colour and tone gradually is a more effective way to work on a piece such as this. I think that strong bold colour in one hit at this stage will overpower the painting.

The first drawing stage of Leicester Square painting.
Leicester square initial drawing.

Gradually, deeper tones are added as more colour is given, and this can be a fine balancing act to get right, even if you have created a tonal value study. I felt that with a painting of this size, a tonal value study would not really serve its purpose, and so I went in cold from the outset. I often work like this, as I find it a more productive way to work up a painting, and I think that impatience to paint may also be a contributing factor!

With all the major elements of tone and colour layed down, I now turn my attention to some details. There was no need to go overboard with detail, as I felt freshness would be lost. So I kept the details to a minimum which I think worked well.

An important part of this painting was the tree which was the last major shape to paint. I felt that the tree would balance the painting out, otherwise the dominant buildings would feel too hard and not offer some eye relief for the viewer. The paper I used for this piece was a 150lb cartridge paper, slightly off white. I find cartridge paper is an excellent choice for these small studies. You have to work fast though as it behaves differently to watercolour paper, but the results are worth it.

Watercolour painting of Leicester Square, London
" Leicester Square " London

And there it is, the final painting and one I really enjoyed creating. I hope that the hustle and bustle of central London can be felt in this piece, looking forward to going back to London for some more inspiration.

I hope that this has been informative and an interesting read with just a glimpse into the process that I use to create these smaller studies. Feel free to leave a comment, would be great to hear your thoughts! Best wishes.

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