Categories: Boats and Harbours


Stephen Quirke


In preparing a watercolour class on glazing I decided to use photos I had taken from the Clock Tower in Cape Town Waterfront early one morning.  The tug ‘Palmiet’ had just cast off and was moving out to meet an incoming container ship at the entrance to the harbour.  The misty dawn.  The mauve, yellow and grey light and the dark forms of the tug, the breakwater and the out wharf seemed like a good subject.

Here is the first version I created to demonstrate the process.  This version is finished I think.

Watercolour of a tugboat

The first washes were not captured in the class but here is how it looked at the end of the session.

I wasn’t wild about the two strips of reflected light and so I scrubbed some off.  I took a short video of this to demonstrate that in fact you can fix a problem in a watercolour.  It is just that each time you do it you can lose some of the sparkle.  And because I was not using staining colours it cleaned off nicely.

This prompted the comment from my class “Oh that’s why you call it a wash”

I also glazed the painting of the tug and wharf.  Here is how it looked on the second version of the work.  First the atmospheric washes – Aureolin Yellow – Rose Madder Genuine (which smells like roses) and Cobalt Blue.

And here are the washes on the darks

I glased another layer of Alizarin Crimson and Winsor Green

And finally finished off with some intense glazes of Prussian Blue – with some Cobalt Blue in the water

I did a third version (man! I just want to get this right)
Here are all the steps

and how it is now (short of some fiddle-free touch-ups- ne)

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