Back to Main Site

 Bothal Castle

Spring time is here and I thought we would set off this years articles with the beautiful Bothal Castle, a place with a chequered history, its been all kinds of things but it certainly is a beautiful setting.

No matter what time of year it is, the season in Northumberland are always beautiful but I have always particularly licked the spring when there is a feeling of awakening and life starts to burst out of the landscape.

Essential Supplies

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

Watercolour Paint
Lemon Yellow
Cobalt Blue
Light Red
Charles Evans Sand
Raw Umber
1.5" Wash brush
3/4" Wash brush
No.8 Round
No.3 Rigger

Step 1 :

A simple pencil drawing to start, nothing complex.


Step 2 :

For the sky wash I firstly pre wet my paper using a large 1.5" wash brush and then dropped in a mixture of yellow ochre mixed with light red in the bottom third area of the sky. Mop up along the bottom so that are no unwanted drips. Then coming in from the top of the sky all the way through to the bottom of the sky, cobalt blue with loads of water. All of this is done whilst the whole sky area is still sopping wet. Then simply get my big brush, squeeze it out and suck out those clouds. I am using my brush because this way it doesnít suck the paint out all the way down to the paper as would a tissue, sponge or kitchen roll.

In the base of the cloud area I have put a little spot of alizarin crimson into my cobalt blue to make a weak yet warn purple. I simply drop in a few could shadows. Once these are in I then again using my large damp wash brush, soften the edges where I have just put in the purple, giving my a nice soft cloud shadow.

Allow this to dry

Step 3 :

Now its time to simply block in the whole of the castle using one mix which is Charles Evans Sand with a tiny touch of raw umber into it. This gives me a lovely stone colour. I'm not messing about with any detail yet, this will come after, just simply fill the whole thing in.

Notice here and there especially on the front wall I have left some tiny touches of white paper showing through, which just helps to capture a little bit of light. This is easily done when you are using a rough surface paper, because you just skip over the surface of the paper with your colour, and where the brush doesnít go into the indentations you are left with white paper. And there we go, the whole of the castle blocked in.
Step 4 :

Now its time for a little bit of far distant trees around and behind the castle, and these really are a long way off so donít start fiddling around with detail, for this I am starting off with my cobalt blue which is a nice distance colour mixed with a tiny touch of alizarin crimson. For this I am using my No 8 round brush. Itís part of the same brushes that I always use called the Sapphire, and they are a nice mixture of sable and synthetic, its just a little cheapie but will do the job of both types of brushes i.e sable & synthetic.
Step 5 :

Whilst Iím waiting for all this big wash stuff to dry Iíll just pop in the windows of the castle. This is very simply cobalt blue mixed with burnt sienna taking care to leave a little bit of under paper showing through here and there between my strokes. This will give you the feel of the window frames.
Step 6 :

And now I want a spring time type green. So first I am going on with a little Lemon Yellow and then a tiny touch of cobalt blue on top of this here and there.
Step 7 :

Now its time to go back into the castle and give the impression of a little bit of stone work. But it really is just giving the impression. Remember youíre painting the castle not building it. So you donít need 6 million stones. Using the point of my No 8 brush and just doing a few strokes here and there to represent a few stones. The eye will fill in the rest. For all of this I am just using a little bit of raw umber.
Step 8 :

Now I seem to have put a lot of work into that castle, but its going seem very strange now that I am going to stipple all over it to give the effect of my ivy. But it will come out right, (he said hopefully). So now Iím going to my 3/4" flat wash brush split with a mixture of hookers green and yellow ochre. I donít want the paint too wet on this. Now I have got a little bit of light red which Iím stippling on top of the green here and there. Just a few tiny touches and to be honest once I have finished all this stippling it looks like I have made a bit of a mess of it. But all with be resolved. I need to let that dry so in the mean time. I am going back to my tree areas with a mixture of cobalt blue, alizarin crimson and burnt sienna. Basically all I am doing with the point of my no 8 round brush is to darken some of the base areas of the trees and some of the areas where the trees join the castle.
Step 9 :

Now to make some sense of all that mess I made on the castle. This is done with the use of my shadow colour which is cobalt blue, alizarin crimson and burnt sienna, first of all I am going into the windows a little stroke on the top and on the left hand side of each window. This recesses the windows back into the building. In this painting I am going to have the light coming from the left therefore it is easy think that every where things are going to be in shadow is where you want a dark edge of shadow.

Where the castle juts out at the front I am stippling my shadow colour everywhere that I stippled the ivy.

And we have got a little bit of a flag pole on the top of the castle, I am using my No 3 rigger and my shadow colour.
Step 10 :

Now I have got a little bit of grass on top of the wall in the foreground for this I am using a little touch of yellow ochre first, hookers green and burnt sienna a nice strong green to help it stand forward. Where the shrubs meet the base of the castle I am going to hit it with a little bit of lemon yellow and stippling on with my ĺ inch wash brush.

Then a little bit of cobalt blue on top of this. Now I have got a little bit of grass in between where the bushes finish and the hills start to come down, and for this again using my lemon yellow and the tiniest touch of cobalt blue into it.
Step 11 :

Next are the big bushes for the foreground for this I am using my 3/4" wash brush, split. Just stippling on with a mixture of lemon yellow and cobalt blue.

Finally a few touches of shadow onto the outer castle wall, just to add a little bit for depth to it.  And thatís us more or less done with our visit to Bothal Castle.