Light and Shade
Artists & Illustrators|February 2021
Finding variety in repeated forms is the key to creating interesting pictures.FABIO CEMBRANELLI shows you how with a gorgeous wisteria-covered doorway in France
FABIO CEMBRANELLI

Fabio’s materials

•Paper Arches Aquarelle 300gsm cold-pressed watercolour paper, 58x48cm

•Brushes Synthetic round brushes, sizes 6, 10 and 16; synthetic flat brushes, size 1/2”, 3/4” and 1”; synthetic rigger brush, size 2; fan brush, size 4

•Paints Raw Sienna, Burnt Sienna, Burnt Umber, Permanent Alizarin Crimson, Rose Madder, Quinacridone Magenta, New Gamboge, Green Gold, Sap Green, Undersea Green, Manganese Blue Hue, Cobalt Blue, French Ultramarine, Ultramarine Violet and Shadow Violet, all Daniel Smith Extra Fine Water Colour

•Pencil Derwent water soluble 2B sketching pencil

I visited Chédigny a couple of years ago, a small village known as “The City of Roses”. I love painting doors, balconies and windows with flowers, the play between light and shade attracts me so the wisteria subject was perfect for me. I took hundreds of photos and made a few sketches.

Wisteria is not an easy subject to paint in watercolour. If you suggest round shapes instead of drooping clusters, for example, it’s going to look like a climbing rose instead. Colour choice is important: the most well-known shades of wisteria are lavender, pink, violet and white but the pink is not so vibrant. Most of the time the flowers have a softer, pastel look. The leaf colour is also important – it’s not a dark green; it’s an intermediate shade, often with a yellow bias.

My approach to watercolour is intuitive and I like to paint loosely. I try to take the essence of the subject and interpret it so I don’t pay too much attention to the number of flowers in each cluster. The general concept is much more important than a single detail. Instead of trying to paint flower by flower, try to focus on the play between light and shadow. You will create a stronger focal point and draw the viewer’s attention. www.fabiocembranelli.com

1 Work the verticals

I began by sketching out my composition. I used a water soluble pencil so that when I started painting my sketch would disappear – the water works as a natural eraser.

I began adding the wall colour with a size 16 round brush and a mixture of Burnt Sienna, Quinacridone Gold and Shadow Violet. If the building wall is a vertical plane, try to move your brush in a vertical or diagonal way. If you apply the first layer vertically, it’s going to look more natural.

2 Pick out colours

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