top of page

Catherine Hearding Guest Demo Artist-CMW’s October Membership Meeting

Catherine Hearding’s demo focused on sunlight and shadow.

As a landscape painter, the emphasis of Catherine’s watercolors is on the elements of color, shape, value and light, inviting the viewer to see the subject from a unique perspective.

Catherine Hearding’s demo subject was a picture of trees, rocks and water. She chose this landscape to demonstrate light and shadow…how to capture sunlight.

She uses a three step process. Her painting process always starts by saving whites and putting in lightest values first, then medium shapes and values, and finish with the dark values and smaller shapes for contrast and detail.

She says that painting sunlight is a matter of contrast.

Intensity Contrast: Low and High—High contrast comes forward, dark recedes. Brightness or dullness of color—brightness comes forward, dullness recedes.

Color Temperature – warm and cool colors: Yellow has the lightest temperature and purple the darkest. With watercolor, paint lightest to darkest.

Color Wheel – high Intensity colors on the outside of the color wheel, neutral is found in the middle of the color wheel and is used as the background of a painting.

Sunlight – warm yellow/orange.

Complimentary contrast such as a shadow-is blue or violet.

Color should be 40% darker in value than the surface it is painted on (use value scale #4 to check) See photo.

Shiny Surfaces – color will bounce. Infuse shadows with color to add interest. Paint wet into wet.

Bright Light – will have a lot more wash out of color—gives you a 3 step contrast as in the colors of a figure for instance.

Painting will appear flat if you don’t use warm and cool temperature colors.


As stated before, paint with lighter colors first.


SKY – light in value, wet on wet paper, uses cobalt blue and holds her paper at an angle, add water to grade wash, add a bit of pinkish orange, tilt paper to let water do the work and dabs out the extra water on edges

WATER – Doing opposite mirror image, holding paper upside down, wet into wet, cobalt blue and adds pinkish orange at horizon, takes up the extra water with paper towel/Kleenex at the edges.

BACKGROUND OF LANDFORM – wet background. The photo is just a memory point, not important to duplicate it exactly. Catherine uses Quin Gold and Permanent Rose, solid value to start with so it doesn’t need to be redone. She keeps it away from the sky tone, other colors will go over this light tone.

ROCKS — Catherine uses a stronger orange. Permanent Rose and Quin Gold. Stronger toward red. Should have a bead of color, which means there is enough water. The water does the work, not brush strokes that damage the paper.

She adds a red/violet horizon line.

Watercolor dries one step lighter—be sure there is enough value.


ADDING TREES – green, orange, quin gold dark tones/detail at top/trees intercept. Catherine adds more color as she paints more trees, high color intensity against duller ones. Wet into wet. Can start adding more color to create tree shapes, let colors flow together using mid tones.

Catherine’s pallet has 15 colors. She uses 3 to 4 (6 maximum) colors in each painting. Example of some of her pallet colors she mentioned are Windsor blue and quin gold, (she uses these two to make her green), Windsor violet, permanent rose, Windsor yellow is her favorite, new gamboge is great for glazing color/brings sunshine back in, Daniel Smith transparent orange, Windsor blue red shade and brown madder. (Warm color – quin gold/cool colors – blue and violet).

Rocks are multiple colors—Catherine uses a size 16 brush which allows her to work more swiftly as it carries more pigment and gets paint on faster—less issue of drying.

After Rocks—goal is to get reflections in the water using blue violet and orange.

Catherine takes a wet brush and pulls through some of the reflections touching and pulling through and lifts out some color going vertically.

Let painting dry.

She uses some masking fluid on many of her paintings. Masking fluid should be as thick as watercolor—if thicker it is too old so throw it out.

DARKS – Next Catherine is painting shapes of the trees and leaving sun direction. For trees, mix colors and blend on paper using #10 brush for painting more detail. Note regarding Windsor Yellow—an aggressive and strong pigment that creates interesting texture in a painting.

IF Catherine was at home—she works about 45 minutes, puts the painting up, stands back, and really looks at it to see it more clearly.

Catherine scraped while the paint was still wet to put in the tree trunks.

Orange and violet work well together.

Rocks—used Windsor blue and violet for darks on edges


Finding small values.

Catherine says to know your subject. Trees-know how they branch out. Rocks-know how they appear. All her paintings are from her own photos, so she knows the subject.

After completing a painting, Catherine sets it up in her studio to check on it, looks at it critically to understand if she needs to do more with it. She looks at it every day for a while.

She encouraged us to paint shapes not objects. Trees in a forest are not individual trees.

Glaze with orange to add light. Glaze with cobalt to push other area back in a space using a soft brush. Cobalt tones down temp contrast.

Adding water to paint obtains three values: light, medium, dark

Catherine completes all her paintings in the same manner. She is process orientated. Keep in mind values and layering.

She lifts paint with an angled brush.

She would use a dry brush to make water sparkle.

Here are a few examples of Catherine’s artwork:

Catherine explainting process of her other work

C Hearding art example 1

C Hearding Art Example 2

Thank you so much Catherine for your interesting and informative demo! To learn more about Catherine and her amazing watercolor art, visit her website at:

1 view0 comments


bottom of page