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Contemporary Watercolor Artist

Contemporary Watercolor Artist

Giuliana Valli (Italy)

Stephen Quiller

James Toogood



After looking at famous watercolor artists I felt I needed to have a contemporary watercolor artist section to show living artists and their work.

I watched also DVD rented from the North Light Books artistnetwork.tv website (which I highly recommend) , and I noticed that the only watercolorist who impressed me really - and that I would like to follow - is Charles Reid. Reid paints painterly and he draws while painting as well. What I mean here is that he doesn't only "color" the drawing he sketched free-hand at the beginning, perhaps trying to exactly reproduce a reference photograph like many other artists of today- but with the brush and the color he directly created shades and even highlights "as he paints".
He also strongly encourages to paint from live, en plein-air which is easier than from a reference photograph. His "secret" while painting is vary colors, doesn't use large flat shapes of the same color and he definetely modifies what he sees, both in shapes, composition and colors.


Charles Reid watercolor artist

Watercolor Solutions with Charles Reid DVD



Round Sable Brush  No 4, 6, 8, 9, 10

140lbs Watercolor Paper


Charles Reid watercolor artist
This is Charles Reid mixing for skin color: cadmiun red light and cadmiun yellow light (in 2/3 and 1/3 combination), cerulean blue as complement. Also Raw Sienna in shadows area is used.


Charles reid color palette for skinThe mixing is not thouroughly but just initiated on the palette and then left it there. Mixing continues on the paper. Charles drags often the brush to mix the colors and then leave the pigments to mix by themselves inside the water. He also often drag a bush just wet with water to further expang his color area.


Charles reid watercolor, the blueThe (Cerulean) Blue is added in a separate section of the palette.Then Mixed gently ina portion of the previous red and yellow mixing and finally also on the paper dierctly...


Charles Reid watercolor...pure cerulean blue added to the wash and then "pulled" around on the paper.


charles reid watercolor sketch
A final sketch of a body: legs and arms are warmer, body is cooler, head is warmer. For shading, blue is added to red. A brush loaded with water is then used to spread the pigments even more.
Nice tips, I highly recommend Charles Reids DVDs such as this one: Watercolor Solutions: Learn To Solve The Most Common Painting Problems
Or you can rent the DVD and other on the excellent North Light Books artistnetwork.tv.



Charles Reids Watercolor Palette

  • Yellow Ochre
  • Raw Sienna
  • Cobalt Blue
  • Viridian
  • Carmine
  • Dark Green
  • Payne‚Äôs Gray
  • Cerulean Blue
  • Cadmium Red
  • Burnt Sienna
  • Ultramarine Blue
  • Burnt Umber
  • Sap Green
  • Cadmium Yellow
  • Cadmium Yellow Pale
  • Cadmium Orange Lemon
  • Yellow Permanent Rose


Some of Charles Reid's recent works:

charles reid watercolor

Charles Reid watercolors

Charles Reid watercolor

charles reid watercolor

charles reid watercolor

charles reid watercolor

charles reid watercolor

Splashing is a technique Charles Reid uses often (see the "dots" all over the painting?). The highlights are often there where he thinks there should be as well and not only and exactly where you see them in real life . Colors are very often not exactly "as they are" in reality. All what I have just said you can see and learn in his DVDs where you will also be able to see how he drags the brush over the paper without removing it from the surface until he mixes the colors directly on the paper.
In one word, this is how to paint painterly. The result is a non-100%-realistic watercolor - not a copy of a photograph - but a much personal work of art.

Here an excerpt from one of his interview to American Artist Watercolor (Spring, 2008 issue)

Q: What is your general approach for painting the figure in watercolor?

Charles Reid:"I believe in contour drawing, and I always connect the figure to the background. Drawing is critical for the figure in watercolor. People can get away with poor drawing with bold and free work, but the drawing has to be right for the figure and portraits. I started contour drawing in the late 1970s and 1980s, when I was traveling a lot. I drew people in airports and found that drawing on the spot is the easiest way to learn to draw the figure. It's not contour drawing in the traditional sense of not looking at the drawing, but to look and draw on the spot is very helpful. I've had good success in class with people learning the figure in this way."


Charles Reid website (and his new DVD set)




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