Watercolor: James Toogood's "Mixed Emotions"

Toogood Mixed Emotions watercolorIn the spring 2008 issue of Watercolor magazine, James Toogood discussed how painting with watercolor requires an understanding of not only the paints themselves but also their application. Here, we present his demonstration Mixed Emotions.


Toogood Mixed Emotions watercolor Toogood Mixed Emotions watercolor Toogood Mixed Emotions watercolor Toogood Mixed Emotions watercolor
Step 1
After making a careful and extensive drawing, I underpainted the areas in sunlight with cadmium yellow and the areas in shadow with a deeper value of ultramarine blue. I blocked in several more colors and then masked the buildings with both frisket paper and liquid masking solution. I then painted the sky with enough value of its own to support the enormous amount of value to come.
Step 2
With the mask removed, I continued to build more color and value to the painting with a series of washes. At this time I began to introduce intermediate darks to further establish a feeling of light and dark.
Step 3
I continued to build up the intermediate darks throughout the painting, using more glazes than washes. I also began to establish some of the deeper dark areas in the painting with even more glazes. Notice the introduction of these deeper values makes the relative value of the sky appear lighter.
Step 4
At this point I added much more color, value, and detail, and I had virtually stopped building any color with washes. I was only glazing, scumbling, and drawing with the brush.

Step 5
I continued to develop even more color, value, and detail as the painting neared completion. I then made the final adjustments.
Toogood Mixed Emotions watercolor
Mixed Emotions
2007, watercolor, 22 x 30. Collection the artist.

The scene is 50th Street and Broadway in midtown Manhattan, a location that is usually a frenzy of activity. I eliminated the people from the composition so I could focus on the cacophony of color, light, shape, and texture of the buildings.

Read James Toogood's feature on achieving optimal results with watercolors from the spring 2008 issue of Watercolor magazine.

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4 thoughts on “Watercolor: James Toogood's "Mixed Emotions"

  1. The realistic detail and rational thought that goes into these paintings takes my breath away. Art to me is (still) an outbrust of energy; primal emotions and symbols of things unspoken. So to listen to a Toogood lecture or to speak to him in person is always a relevation to me. Someone once said to me to never paint on paper, only paint in oils on canvass because only this medium will stand the test of time and ensure the value (or profit)to the painting and to the artist. Mr. Toogood — What’s your response to this comment?

  2. Summing it up, James makes a careful drawing, puts paint on it, then more paint, then even more paint. Who could ever have guessed this is the way to paint a Watercolor? Stunning revelation!

  3. Greetings Mr. Toogood! I am a student at the University of Minnesota in Duluth and was hoping to contact you via email. I am in a Watercolor I class and I chose you to research for my final project. I would love to ask a few questions if you have time. Thanks!

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