Planning and a Step by Step - Trout

With just a couple of weeks remaining for students in my current studio watercolour course, this week they get to paint any subject of their choice using washes and texture techniques learnt over the past month. In my handout this week I share my "check list" which I use for each of my paintings, it saves me paint, paper and frustration as all the important decisions are considered before the very first brushstroke.

Think before your first brushstroke
  • Composition, don't be a slave to your reference image
  • Paper size, type and Orientation
  • Colour choices for a unified work, will it get me the darks I need
  • Wet on dry or Wet into Wet
  • What texture could I use
  • Background first, after or at the same time

Rainbow Trout
Step by Step
  • I google a few rainbow trout images to give me the colours and shapes to ensure my fish will look like a trout. 
  • I make a simple outline drawing of a fish
  • I choose a square format and use my fish drawing to make my composition
  • I play with some colour choices and settle on Indigo, Undersea Green, Burnt Sienna, Permanent Rose

  • I decide on painting the background first and mix pools of indigo and the green and paint around my drawn fish varying the colour from the two pigment pools. 
  • When this was dry I decided to add a very weak wash of Burnt Sienna to all of the water to muddy it up to be more like a stream.

  • I wet a fish and drop colours in wet into wet using the same indigo and undersea green with Permanent rose for the stripe area with letting it mix with some indigo for a greyed mauve hue.

  • After each fish had its first pass of colours I strengthened in areas with some additional thin glazes.added some irridescent medium thinned with water to give some fish scale texture. 
  • Next the eyes were started
  • Whilst the eyes were drying I added the spots and fins using a dark mix of the indigo and green
  • I added the finishing touches to each fish including adding a highlight to the eye with a white ink gel pen
  • Using a the white ink pen I added some small bubbles around my focal point fish

I Quit
38cm x 38cm
Saunders Waterford Cold Press 425gsm



  1. Another great title Lorraine!! Clear step by step, good job....I often wonder on mine if instructions are clear enough....we know what we are talking about but does that mean the reader does? Anyway this seems pretty clear to me....

  2. Love your titles and your trout!!! Great to follow along with your steps. Thanks. Hope to see the rest of your posts before you go traveling. I hope you will get to post a bit while you are gone. I did get to meet Wendy Barrett who is here in NY and assorted other places on holiday. We've had fun together and I'm enjoying her Aussie accent.

  3. Thank you for your tips Lorraine! Love your trout of course. :-)

  4. How generous of you to share your tips. I need to think more so really appreciate the advice. Love those trout. Hugs!

  5. Thanks for sharing your technique - always makes a blog more interesting. One of my favorite watercolors is Indigo. In art class the students used to make fun of me because I used it in just about every painting. It's such a rich color. Nice painting Lorraine.

  6. 'I Quit' to my mind is a wonderful tongue in cheek version of 'Bear Upstream.' Reminds me of many over the road travels as auto traffic coming from the opposite side of road flashes their headlights to alert our lane of - Highway Patrol sitting behind the bushes with speed cameras. Some of us got the message and slowed down. Others we passed by ... as they sat - off road ... waiting for the boys in blue to wright their speeding tickets. Love this painting. Have bookmarked site and will be back.

  7. I love to watch your steps!! And your finale result is quite beautiful and brilliant. Congrats!! I'm thrilled.


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