This lady's work looks easy, but believe you me, it's not! Nita Engle's How to Make a Watercolour Paint Itself has been in my book collection for years. I've dipped in and out of it, but never really felt brave enough to experiment with the techniques she describes. Since I'm still obsessed with how to represent water in watercolour, I decided to give it another go.
After a couple of failed attempts, here is where I am:
Failed attempt number 1: this one looks like a volcanic eruption. The big mistake I made here was to go back over my background, squirting really dark blue without spraying water over it. This was never going to look like waves.
Now, this was starting to look more like what I was trying to achieve, but it still didn't look like waves. In the book, she says to tilt towards the top first to do the sky, but you will see in the video that she actually tilts to the right for the waves first, and once that has settled, she tilts to the top for the sky. I must try that next time. The rocks at the bottom are painted on fairly dry paper with a knife, then I sprayed the bottom to soften them. I'm using Daler Rowney watercolour board - Saunders Waterford Hot Pressed - don't try these pouring techniques with watercolour paper; it will buckle and warp.
So I was happy I had a workable start. I added darker shades over my horizon and to the left. I got into difficulty when I started adding shadows in the waves. I picked too dark a colour just above the main rocks on the left, and also a permanent pigment that I can't lift. At that stage, I felt I had nothing to lose. I tried to add some spray by using white acrylic. I dabbed it first and it was disastrous. So I added some more dark watercolour to hide it. Then I flicked fairly liquid white acrylic from a brush (I masked the areas I didn't want to get hit - I just placed bits of paper over what I wanted to protect). It's messy. Don't wear good clothes. You will end up with paint on your face. But it's starting to look like a wave. I should have used gouache rather than acrylic for this, for a more matte finish, but the last tube of gouache I got ended up all dry and I had to throw it out. I'm now at a stage where I feel I have everything to lose, so I'm frozen. It's looking three-dimensional, but I'm afraid that if I add more white spray, I will lose my effect. And no book or video can help me with this. I often find, even in Ms Engel's book, that the instructions jump from a half-finished painting to a completely perfect one, without those essential steps that I need!