Watercolor and Pastel Artists at CHAW

Teaching an Old Dog New Tricks

Perhaps that’s an inaccurate title. Wan is not an old dog, and pouring watercolor is not a new trick. But for someone whose work is meticulous and precise, beginning a watercolor by pouring paint all over the paper could be a bit daunting. I admire Wan’s willingness to tackle such a complex and difficult subject, and to take risks with a new technique.

Wan chose to paint a photograph I had taken in Montreal last summer. I had him in mind when I took the picture, and was hoping he’d bite. Here’s my photo:


Beginning with a lovely pencil drawing, Wan masked the fish with frisket. Looking at the water, Wan saw shades of purple swirling in one direction, and green and yellow in the other.

The actual pouring of the washes was so exciting that I totally forgot to photograph the process. This photo should provide an idea of what the washes looked like when Wan began painting the ripples in the water.


Wan is supremely patient and spent a couple of classes as well as time at home carefully studying and rendering the dark swirls of ripples.

Wan removed the frisket and began to paint the koi, extending ripples across the backs of some of the fish, and using soft and hard edges to create the sense of fish below the surface of the water and others floating on top.


Below is the finished painting. Much lovelier than the original photo, I keep thinking it looks like a children’s book illustration–perhaps a story about a princess who drops a golden ball into a koi pond.


Ellen Cornett
Nag in Chief

4 comments on “Teaching an Old Dog New Tricks

  1. wisemarian
    October 31, 2017

    Wow. It’s great to see the stages. And the painting DEFINITELY is better than the photo.


    November 1, 2017



  3. Dianne Yunkman
    November 1, 2017

    Joe, my husband, and I are VERY impressed! Very nice work, Wan!


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    October 29, 2018

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This entry was posted on October 31, 2017 by in Illustrating books, In the Studio, Watercolor, Watercolor techniques.
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