Art Techniques | 23 April 2018Expressive Painting: Reflections Share article facebook twitter google pinterest How do you make a watercolor stand out? Try adding reflections! In Expressive Painting we see how to make our paintings alive. Reflections add energy and color to a scene. They can suggest an afternoon rainstorm or help make the foreground interesting. Paint reflections at the same time you paint the object. If there is a passage of dark green trees, paint the mirror image directly below. Make some horizontal strokes through the reflection to suggest the flow of water and the irregularity of puddles. On a city street at night, the reflection will extend farther than the height of the object. This also works for painting lakes. If the reflection is distinct, the water is calm. Busy water will have broken bits of color. Here are a few examples. City Street, South Pasadena This simple scene of a street and railway crossing is enhanced and made more interesting by the addition of a colorful reflection that fills the foreground. I took many liberties with shape and color, using the excuse of a reflection to pump more color into the scene. The horizontal strokes through the color help communicate water and enforce the perspective. Santa Fe Depot As this is an extremely horizontal subject, I used both the background trees and the foreground reflections to introduce some verticality. These reflections are subtle and abstract, rather than literal and tight. Evening Rain, Los Angeles A rainy nighttime scene is the perfect subject for exploring reflections. The taillights of the cars on the freeway create bold streaks of red. At the center of the painting, lights from the distant buildings reflect onto the freeway. Don’t worry about accuracy. Rather, go for a feeling of excitement, and express colors boldly. Old Pasadena at Night One of my favorite settings is Old Pasadena on a rainy fall evening. Cars heading down Green Street create bright red reflections that extend to the bottom of the page. The yellow light from store windows is also reflected, as are the shapes of the pedestrians braving the weather. Los Angeles River In this placid scene, the Los Angeles River acts as a mirror, reflecting the banks, concrete structure, and dark trees behind. A spark of sunlight peeks through the trees. Even though this is a direct reflection, I enhanced the colors in the river, introducing opera and cobalt blue, just to jazz it up a bit. Buy from an Online Retailer US: The next book in Walter Foster Publishing’s popular Portfolio series, Expressive Painting is the ultimate beginner’s guide to watercolor painting using dynamic, vibrant colors. Following the same clean, contemporary, easy-to-read, and easy-to-follow layout and design of the other books in the series, Expressive Painting gives beginning and aspiring artists the information they need to paint colorful watercolors that convey mood and emotion on canvas. The book covers essential painting topics, including color theory, color mixing, selecting color schemes, and working with tools and materials, as well as watercolor painting techniques, such as painting wet-into-wet and wet-on-dry. Share article facebook twitter google pinterest If you have any comments on this article please contact us or get in touch via social media.