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 Durham Castle


Essential Supplies

The items you will need to complete this scene are as follows:-

Acrylic Paint

Raw Umber
Titanium White
Burnt Sienna
Hooker's Green
Cadmium Yellow
Cobalt Blue
Alizarin Crimson
Payne's Grey

1.5" Wash brush
3/4" Wash brush
No.8 Round
No.3 Rigger


As you can see from this drawing it looks awfully complicated, thatís because it probably is. But even though it looks complex, Iíve still just stuck to outlines, no crosshatching, no shading, no messing. This by the way is Durham Cathedral and Castle from the main bridge over Durham.

And now that I have got my outline drawn, the painting itself is actually going to be done in System 3D acrylics. The beauty about System 3D is that it can be used either in oil style or watercolour style or a bit of both, which is exactly what I am going to do in this picture. A watercolour style wash for the sky and getting thicker and chunkier for buildings coming further forward.  Also for the paint I am using on the Daler-Rowney stay wet palettes, which is to all intents and purposes, a very simple piece of plastic, but an absolute boon for keeping your paints moist and usable. For my sky wash I am using cobalt blue, titanium white, a little bit of raw sienna and a little bit of Payne's grey and so here we go. Firstly, wet the entire sky area just as in a watercolour sky. I am not being too precise about going around buildings and things, they are all going to be darker than my sky area anyway. But remember System 3 acrylics are very strong in colour. Obviously thereís a lot going on in this picture, so I donít want to mess about too much with a fancy sky. I just wash it on with my raw sienna in the base, and cobalt blue in the top coming down, then finally a few shafts of grey to indicate a little bit of cloud below my titanium white. Now let the sky dry before going any further.

Surprisingly, I use the same brushes for my acrylics as I do in my watercolours. For my sky wash I use my 1.5" flat wash Dalon brush, and for the rest of the painting I am going to use my ĺ" wash Sapphire brush, my No.8 round Sapphire brush and my No.3 rigger Sapphire brush.



At the moment, all I am doing is building up blocks of colours within the buildings. For the cathedral, I have used my Payne's grey mixed with titanium white to lighten it. Then as you will notice a heck of a lot lighter on the right-hand side where I want to catch a bit of strong light.
In the next stage you will see I have done the same, but coming further forward Iíve added a tiny touch of burnt sienna into my Payne's grey and titanium white mix, again much much lighter on the left-hand side.



The beauty of acrylics as opposed to watercolours is that you can paint light on top of dark. I want to give all the buildings a little bit more texture now, so with my ĺ" wash brush split, I am stippling on very lightly a few touches of raw umber. Now as I say you stipple light on top of dark so in the next stage I'm stippling on a few touches of raw sienna. Finally a few touches of titanium white, just stippling very sparingly. Now for my windows I am using cobalt blue and a touch of burnt sienna, for all of this I am using my No.8 round brush. In general, castles donít have sash windows so donít start fiddling and messing about with fancy windows, these are blobs.
Now let's give these buildings a real feel of depth. For this I am using cobalt blue, alizarin crimson and a touch of burnt sienna. Now this is a very bold shadow colour, be bold when you put it on. Donít prevaricate, be brave. Notice that on some of the buildings I have got diagonal shadows, this is as one building casts shadow onto the next as is actually a very effective technique, donít over work it.



Now starting off with the trees, firstly a wash of Hooker's green mixed with a touch of burnt sienna, but importantly remember never to use Hooker's green just by itself, far too bright and garish. It has to be said as Iím putting it on it looks very flat and boring, but just wait till the magic starts to happen. Using my No.8 round brush just simply fill it all in. There we go flat dead and boring, just a big swathe of green, but watch what happens next.
Once this has totally dried, again the beauty of acrylics, Iíve added yellow with my split 3/4" wash brush and just stippled on here and there but doing a bit of a round shape as I stipple. Now a little bit of cadmium yellow here and there.

Now for some cadmium yellow mixed with my Hooker's green, now a little bit of cobalt blue mixed with burnt sienna just enough to tone down the green. Then just cadmium yellow by itself and cadmium mixed with Hooker's green. All of these are stippled on one at a time. Finally with a little bit of cadmium yellow, Hooker's green and titanium white and my No.8 round brush to pull out a few individual trees here and there.



Now for the roofs of the normal buildings, a bit of my cobalt blue, burnt sienna and titanium white, to make a kind of a slatey grey colour. For some of the buildings I want a brick colour, for this I am using raw umber and burnt sienna mixed.

There is a building on the bridge which is a slightly different colour which is my grey mixed with raw umber. Notice that in all of the buildings just as in the castle and cathedral, a lot lighter to the right-hand side than the left, very simply it's more water. And again look at these blocks.
Whilst all this is drying I have got a little bit of my grey mixed with raw umber for yet another block, the bridge. Just block it all in using my No.8 round brush. A little bit more detail in the windows in the buildings on the left, as they are closer. All I am doing is painting the same cobalt blue and burnt sienna block, but this time leaving a little white bar in between the two blobs in the window and I am still using my No.8 round brush.



Now to do some stonework effect, a little bit of raw umber, a little bit of alizarin crimson, darker and stronger. Iím not painting individual stones, all I am doing is a few strokes here and there to give the impression of bricks or stonework. Be careful at this stage, because though effective, if you go crazy with this technique it can tend to look like a building with chickenpox. Use the same process in the bridge but this time using raw umber mixed with Payne's grey. Remember donít mess because yet again all this is going to be brought to life with shadow. Now again my shadow, my shadow colour is cobalt blue, burnt sienna and alizarin crimson, I use this colour simply because it's nice and warm. Basically with shadow all you have to think about is where you have an overhang, you need shadow. Now a good strong shadow at the side of the windows will recess the windows back into the building. And the light is coming from the right, so the shadow line is going across the top and down the right-hand side. It's particularly important to have a good strong shadow line where the roofs meet the building, this really makes those roofs site down on the building. Interestingly, this is quite a warm shadow because of the alizarin crimson and blue, but if I were to be painting a winter scene it would be too warm, therefore I would use straightforward blue and burnt sienna. One very important shadow of course is the shadow underneath the arches of the bridge, so Iím darkening this a touch more with a bit more burnt sienna making a very strong and powerful colour.
Now a little bit of raw umber and cobalt blue for a very dark mix for the lamp post on the bridge using my No.3 rigger brush. Add a little bit of titanium white on top and down one side which will give me a touch of light. On these lamp posts there are hanging baskets which have a very nice little touch of red, so add a few touches of cadmium red. And add a little bit of light just in front where it's needed in front of the dark trees. Finally before we start into the water and the reflections, add a few people standing on the bridge. This is the beauty of acrylics over watercolours, you really can paint your light on top of dark. There is a lovely flesh tone in acrylics, but quite frankly I find it just as easy since I have all my colours to hand, to mix a little bit of raw sienna, titanium white and alizarin crimson.



There is a big building on the right-hand side, I want it good and strong and dark; this is just a big shadowed building to keep the eye in on the right-hand side. For this I am using a mixture of cobalt blue and raw umber.

Now for the big tree on the left. Again with my No.8 round brush, starting off with Hooker's green and burnt sienna, plenty of burnt sienna into it, with my No.8 round brush simply stipple on. At this stage I havenít got that much water in my mix, almost treating it like oil. Also while Iím in with this colour, I have a few grasses at the base of the wall, again just stippling on. You will notice at this stage I am also stippling this green to where the river will go. Also drag down a few touches of green through, underneath the bridge. Same process with this tree on the left, once I have got my greens on start and stipple on some other colours, starting with Hooker's green and cadmium yellow, followed by cadmium yellow on its own. Followed by a little bit of cobalt blue mixed with burnt sienna, this time darker than the first mix, i.e more burnt sienna. At this stage notice all the colours are repeated loosely where the water is going to go.

One last stroke and thatís to get the water on, but very importantly, everything else that I have just put into the water area must be totally dry. But being acrylics this doesnít take long, so just give it 5 minutes.

It's back to my ĺ" wash brush that I turn for my cobalt blue stretch of water underneath the bridge, coming further forward and through my reflections. This is another beauty of acrylics, you can go through the stuff that you have already put on and you arenít going to smear it or smudge it. Now Iím going to let that dry ever so slightly for a few seconds before putting on a few touches of white here and there. Just a few shafts of green into the water under the right-hand arch of the bridge. Now some cobalt blue and burnt sienna for a few darker touches all using my ĺ" wash brush. Finally a few shafts of white here and there using my No.3 rigger, and obviously this is going to be the most effective in the darker areas so donít go mad with it. Add a few squiggly bits of dark paint which is cobalt blue and burnt sienna. Finally, almost forgotten, there is a little bush poking out from the bottom on the right-hand side. Good and dark to start with, and then just capture a little bit of light on it here and there with cadmium yellow. And there my friends is a view of Durham, you have thought fairly complex but actually when done stage-by-stage like this, it's just a series of blocks.