Bill Baffa Watercolors

▶ How I Painted "Saddle Up"



I always work from photo references for my watercolors. Of course the photo is just a beginning. After manipulating the image in numerous pencil sketches, I finalize the layout to create a strong composition. It’s at this point that I render the final pencil sketch on Arches 300 pound cold pressed watercolor paper and begin to add color.

Then I want to lay in my background washes first. The easiest way to paint in the background is to mask all the parts of the painting other than the background. That is what you see here. All the shapes that need to be masked out are completed.

You mask in two ways:

(1) Using “Art Masking Fluid” (it’s the light yellow/creme color shown here) I mask the smaller shapes of the non background area and all along the edges of the larger remaining shapes of the non background. In this painting, that would be all the leather straps and metal.

(2) Using house painters blue masking tape, I block out the large areas that were not masked out with the masking fluid, taping directly on top of the masking fluid sections. After all the masking is completed, I’m now ready to paint in the background and work on some details as well.



I remove all the interior blue masking tape (except for the outer edge tape) and use a rubber cement eraser to pull up the rest of the dry masking fluid. Notice how sharp the edges are. Now I'm ready to start painting the rest of the painting.



Now I start to paint in the various leather bridles and straps leaving the metal for last. I start to think 3 dimension, texture and shadows.



I keep aging the leather, start working on the metal and start toning down brighter colors and adding layers of blue tint overall to unify the overall tone of the painting. I blend some edges into the background and the final step is adding all the final fibers to the horse blanket background. Shown here is the completed painting: “Saddle Up.”

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