Monster from the 18th Century

Summary: Looking back to move forward; I look at a British Watercolorist from the 18th century and discover an age old technique.

Who would’ve guessed that an 18th century painter would hold the key to this Monster Monday!? In this particular case, I recently had gotten a book on the 18th century watercolor artist Thomas Girtin from the library. This guy was just a monster in his own right! He could not only draw like an angel, but he could paint like the devil! His watercolors have a certain solidity about them that I really enjoy and want to emulate in my own work. Upon discovering this era of British watercolorists, I have begun to see where some of my other art heroes like Alan Lee and John Howe might have some roots.

Within the book is revealed a little of his technique, which I used to create today’s monster. The process was basically went from sketch, then to a grisaille/value painting, then finished with washes of color over that. I’d never heard of  watercolorists using any sort of grisaille technique before. It was a real light bulb moment.

This was totally an experiment, so I had no idea how it was going to turn out, and didn’t bother to document the whole process. Perhaps I’ll do a more in depth blog showing more about this technique in the future.

Here’s the sketch from my sketchbook. I simply made a printout of this and used the ol’ pencil rubbings on the back to make transfer paper out of it, then transfered the drawing to the watercolor paper.

The next image is  the final painting. The granulation at the top was just a happy accident.

The finished watercolor painting

The finished watercolor painting is available for sale, please contact me for more details if you are interested.

As always your comments are encouraged here, I love to hear what you have to say.

5 Responses to Monster from the 18th Century

  1. Loving these monsters Brian and your technique just gets better and better all the time. Your monster designs are spot on too – have you thought about exploring the concept art avenue?

    Look forward to seeing more

  2. Howdy Jonathan, thanks for the encouragement! We’ll see where these little creatures go, but for now they’re mostly for entertainment. I’d love to get some gigs creating creatures for game companies or movies!

  3. Hey Brian,
    These look great! And as Jonathan said: your technique is amazing! I just love your colours and still how clean you can keep it. Beautiful work.

  4. Thanks Veronika, I’ve been doing some research into the history of watercolor and am starting to see a way to “build” better watercolors. Thanks for kind words.

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