Lets start with a photograph of pillows! Cut one from a magazine or arrange a pile of your own pillows and sketch them right onto a piece of watercolor paper or…
With a soft-leaded pencil (#5 or 6) scribble on the back of your magazine photo and rub it smooth with a tissue. Position your photo and tape it onto your watercolor paper. Trace the image onto your watercolor paper with an ball point pen.
Gently remove your photo and see your picture transferred onto the watercolor paper! Tape a border around your picture with masking tape – like a frame. Apply clear water on the background of your painting (everywhere but the pillows). Apply a very pale, diluted paint/water mixture of blue to the wet area you just painted.
Wash the paint from your brush and gently squeeze out the excess water and “suck” up extra blue paint where it has pooled. Now apply clear water to the lower and right sections of the top pillow. Don’t wet the area that is going to be the fringe.
Mix a mixture of cool-grey paint (Cool grey has a blue cast) using blue, yellow, and red (more blue, less red, and even less yellow). Keep mixing until you like it. Don’t forget to use water…this is watercolor paint! Apply your grey to the area you just wet on the pillow. Soften edges by cleaning and blotting your brush with a paper towel and running it along the edge of where you want it to look soft and gradual.
Next, wet the bottom pillow with clear water and apply some grey paint mixture around the bottom edges and the area where the top pillow casts a shadow. Soften the edges. Now, let everything dry. Then, apply clear water to what will be the red pillow.
Add a little red paint to your grey mixture to make it a warm grey (warm grey has a red or yellow cast) using red, yellow, and blue (more red, less blue, and even less yellow). Again, mix with water and keep adjusting the amounts of colors until you get it so you like it.
Notice I have shown you these little splotches that look like Mickey Mouse ears. The grey on the left is a cool grey (bluish) and the grey on the right is a warm grey (reddish).
Now lets mix a brown using blue, yellow, and red. The only difference between brown and grey is that I use different amounts of particular colors. If you end up with a green add more red. If you end up with purple add more yellow. If you end up with orange add more blue. And always use water!
Now lets paint stripes on the pillow. We don’t need to wet it with clear water first. Let it dry completely. Then apply clear water on the bottom half of each stripe.
Mix a darker brown by adding more paint and less water to the brown mixture you already have and apply it to the bottom of each stripe as shown. Soften the edges.
Next mix a golden brown by adding yellow to your brown paint mixture. Also add water to make it lighter. Paint on the cross stripes.
Next, paint the middle pillow with clear water. Make a mixture of red paint (and water) by adding just a little yellow to make it brighter. Apply it to the wet pillow.
Now wet the dark area in front and under the pillows with clear water. Make a mixture of cool grey paint (you know how!) and apply it to the front shadow area. Turn your paper upside down so it pools right under the pillows to make it look darker there. Let it dry.
Soften the edges (you know how by now! Good practice, huh?). Wet the area around the other pillows on the right and add grey to that area for a shadow. Soften the edges as it dries.
Paint a little red on the white pillow right near the red pillow. Soften its edge.
Now let’s go back and apply more clear water to the bottom and right of the striped pillow (just “lay” it in without “scrubbing” back and forth so you don’t remove the paint that is already there) and add more cool grey to make it darker. Soften the edges. Add darker red paint (less water) to the red pillow as shown.
Now add even more dark grey under the bottom edge of the pillows and soften the edges. Add a little grey to the white pillow and soften the edges while it dries.
Add a little grey around the tassels and soften the edges. Add some grey to the end of the white pillow, not going all the way to the edge. Soften the top edge as it dries, and soften the bottom edge after it is dry with a wet brush and blot it with a paper towel. Now mix a very dark brown (less water) and paint around the edge of the top pillow, making dark fringe.
Now go back and add, remove, blot, soften, and tweak it until you get it just right! And sign your painting! See the finished painting at the top of this post…Notice the dots on the white pillow. They are darker in the shadow and lighter where there is not shadow.