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Tonal impressionism

Amanda Hyatt introduces her Five Steps to Watercolour in the first of a new six-part series in which she shares some of her techniques and ideas on how to see and paint what is in front of you


There are many of genres of art and many media to paint them with. My art is traditional realist tonal impressionist watercolour and I paint both in the studio and en plein air, the latter being the more difficult yet more rewarding by far. I paint full-sheet, big-view watercolours but I learned that spontaneity and painting in the fast alla-prima way is essential to capturing the magic, mood, light and emotion of the subject. When viewing a subject there is a lot of excess information that is not required for the painting to be successful.

Five steps to success

My method Five Steps to Watercolour has been honed over 35 years of trial and error. I do not like a lot of drawing or detail; the composition is really more important and, to a certain degree, replaces the necessity to spend too much time drawing. You can also draw with the paintbrush for my sort of art. It is also not necessary to put in all the details until the end of the painting when you are pulling it together. Often the time you spend worrying about a minor detail at the beginning of the painting is wasted when later that initial detail gets painted over.

Step One: Composition

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About The Artist

Welcome to our May issue packed with inspiring practical features to help you develop your skills in all media. Watercolourists will love Bob Rudd's invented colour schemes for dramatic landscapes, Amanda Hyatt's five steps to watercolour success, with an exercise to try, Ann Blockley's invitation to inject some magic into your watercolour washes, Paul Talbot-Greaves' deconstruction into three parts of the painting of a daffodil, and Deborah Walker's test report on a new Winsor & Newton watercolour paper. Paul Riley and Julie Collins show how to use pen and wash and ink and watercolour in powerful combinations, while Jo Quigley demonstrates why working en grisaille in acrylics can be so beneficial. Portraitists will learn different ways to obtain a likeness from Ann Witheridge and Will Teather; adapt your sketching kit with ideas from David Parfitt; try painting seascapes in water-mixable oils with Paul Weaver, and more. And don't forget to enter our summer sketching competition with fantastic monthly prizes!