Photo Demos

Photo demos:

Since most artists paint daily and post them on a daily basis, I thought I would rather do something quite different, by showing a series of paintings from photos.

With each photo demo:

  • Not only how I painted the scene or subject matter, but interesting stuff about what happened there, what I did or thought of the place, event, etc.
  • Where possible I’ll state what art materials, techniques and methods were used in the demo.
  • And any peculiar and unforeseen things that happened during the process and how I handled the situation.

I don’t promise to do my photo demos on a daily basis, but as a busy artist I will endeavour to follow-up with new demos as often as possible.

The first photo demo  is”Old willow stump”  and can be found below on this page. But in future all new photo demos will be found under the category blog listing: “photo demos”.

Tourism aspect:

  • Most of the photos taken of South Africa were by me. So I’m able to describe and add fascinating facts of the terrain.  For the tourist who is interested in touring South Africa, here is the opportunity to tour and see interesting places off the beaten track.
  • Sometimes I’m given photos by other people. Some photos may be beyond the borders of South Africa, but none the less just as interesting because of the experiences of the people who went there.

What to expect:

  • Naturally we can’t re-produce precisely what God has perfectly created. Therefore the demos won’t be exactly as what’s seen in the photos. As artists we have the privilege or licence to create illusions of reality.
  • Having different personalities we interpret, translate and transform the subject matter according to our imagination, preferences and choice of style, technique and medium used.
  • The end result could be a simile, mock reproduction, fantasy or outright abstract of reality.The ultimate objective though is the challenge to create something that will charm and stimulate the emotions and senses of humanity.

Demo renditions:

You may notice I sometimes change my original perception of the concept midstream. Why? Because I like to go with the flow of what’s happening in the painting. I watch the mingling interaction of the paint and how its characteristics start to take over and transform the concept. To me paintings evolve, somewhat like what happens when TV actor characters affect, define and enhance the appeal of the soapie series.

By following my art blogs, I hope you will find them enjoyable, fascinating and informative.

THE FIRST PHOTO DEMO:   Vaal River Willow scene:

Something about the place we are going to discuss:

The location is along the Vaal River, just before The Barrage, in Sasolburg, Orange Free state, South Africa. Because boating and water skiing is popular along this part of the river there are many holiday cottages in the vicinity.

I must say for me, been adventurous and observant is part of being an artist. So taking my sun-float (ly-lo) I hand-padded across the river to the reed island in the centre of the river. Contending with the flow of the current is exhilarating and so peaceful once you reach and circle round the reeds, checking out the wildlife, birds and their nests.

I love exploring the countryside with my camera, following footpaths,  rambling through grass, and weeds, climbing over rocks and trailing through streams, etc in my endeavours to search for scenes that I can used for art. This amuses my family. They say, “If Ada has a camera in her hands, she will attempt anything!”

So it isn’t surprising I scrambled along the bank of the Vaal River (upstream from where I had used the sun-float) to take photos.

Photo demos for artists

The Vaal River


What was your first impression on seeing this photo? For me it was the impact and striking contrast of colour: blue and yellow-green.

Watercolour landscape photo demos

Willow along the Vaal river, Sasolburg.

Now the actual demo:

Since the general colour scheme was cold in nature, I knew it needed warm colours to give it more emotional impact. Since it wasn’t an autumn or winter scene I considered giving it a warm atmospheric ambience.

And because I was going to use watercolours, I needed a simpler and different approach to what you would use for oils or pastels. So I reduced some of the detail and foreground. But having reduced some of the foreground I lost most of the impact of the yellow-green.

Watercolour paper:

The paper I used was A5, 190 gsm acid-free paper. Basically satisfactory paper, if it wasn’t for some of the pages in the sealed A4 pad were tightly pressed folds in them. Obviously the manufacturers hadn’t checked their production, and when I returned to the eminent stationery shop I found they still had faulty stock!

Procedure used:

  1. I first laid in an overall light raw sienna imprimatura wash.
  2. When that was dry, a soft pink wash (perm madder lake) was painted over the sky and distant tree area.
  3. When that was dry, I filled in the silhouette background trees with French Ultramarine blue and dropped-in a touch of cerulean blue. Space was left for the main willow tree.
  4. After the distant trees had dried I added a soft wash of blue to the sky,  leaving a pink aura along the trees’ silhouette contour edges.
  5. Working downwards: added the in between trees and then the cool reeds up to the waterline. The waterline was measured in relation to the bottom edge of the paper, so it would have balanced equanimity.
  6. The far distant water lilies were added close to the reeds, with reflections below the lily meniscus waterline.
  7. Then the semi-submerged little tidal islands were put in before the main willow tree. First different shades of brown with different green dropped-in and shadows added according to the drying time of the paint and paper.
  8. Because of the awkward angle of the willow’s trunk, I suggested a more upright angle by adding another possible branch.
  9. Foreground was added after painting the willow trees.
  10. Lastly to complete the picture and give it emotional appeal: pink atmospheric ambience was added to water nearest to the willow trees and as aura around the contours of the willow trees and within the pinholes of the foliage.
Watercolour of the Vaal River during summertime

Blue green rendition of the Vaal River

Another photo demo rendition:

The same scene, same size, as above but now painted on different paper (200gsm, Amedeo mixed media A4 pad). This paper has a different textured surface and is harder to drop-in and spread washes evenly.

I’m very interested to know which of the two watercolours you like best: the first one or the last blue/green one? Why do I ask for your response? Because I love the lushness of green, but it is said that green paintings are not acceptable! What do you think?

The first Photo Demos that are no longer listed: