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How to Paint Fire in Watercolors

Updated April 17, 2017

Fire is mesmerising. Both beautiful and dangerous, exciting and soothing at the same time, it is one of nature's elemental forces. It is also fun to paint with watercolours and not as difficult as you might imagine. Scottish watercolourist and painting tutor Christian Wharton suggests painting from your imagination, at first, rather than from nature. "If you have the added worry of making a good likeness, this is inhibiting and the sense of pleasure is lost," she says. "It is much better to experiment innocently, using imagination and a sense of design."

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  1. Fill individual pans of the watercolour mixing tray with different colours. Mix watercolour paints and water to create a variety of shades. Include separate pans of yellows, reds and oranges as well as some pale green and pale blue.

  2. Tape the watercolour paper to a work surface or board. Wet the paper with plain water.

  3. Paint a series of short, vertical lines using all the different colours. The brightest yellows will suggest the hottest part of the fire. Christian Wharton suggests that when you do this, you paint quickly, imagining the fire taking hold.

  4. Use colour to suggest motion. Warm colours such as reds, oranges and yellows give the illusion of movement and seem to come forward in a painting.

  5. Use greens and blues sparingly. They are cool colours and will suggest where the fire may be coolest.

  6. Tip

    Some artists like to paint on dry paper for more control. Lightly wetting the paper when painting fire allows paints to blend and flow, adding a dynamism and the element of surprise to the painting.

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Things You'll Need

  • Watercolour paints in reds, yellows, greens and blues
  • Watercolour mixing tray
  • Medium watercolour brush
  • Watercolour paper
  • Drawing board (optional)

About the Author

Ellen Falconetti

Ellen Falconetti has written professionally since 1981. Her work has appeared in major newspapers in England and the U.S.A. as well as on a variety of websites and mobile media. Falconetti specializes in travel, lifestyle, telecoms and technology. She has Bachelor of Science in speech and journalism from Syracuse University and a master's degree in creative writing from a British university.

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