Painting a Spanish Church by Paul Weaver

The Dappled Shade, Beniganim, Spain is a hilltop church which caught my eye whilst out sketching and looking for subjects. The white walls stood out beautifully against the dark, background foliage and the foreground tree shade enhanced the effect of bright sunlight.

I made a careful pencil study onsite, using the sketch as my reference for this studio demo.

Materials used are:

Finished size is 10” x 14”.

Step 1 – Drawing

I lightly sketched the subject onto the watercolour paper, using a 4B pencil. A soft pencil is advisable as it doesn’t damage the paper and is easier to rub out if required.

Step 2 – Underwash

This first wash is very important as it sets the scene for everything else to follow. The aim is to cover everything with a pale tone that isn’t going to be white. This establishes all of the lightest areas and hopefully some of the mid tones as well. Most importantly, this initial wash provides me with a tone against which I can accurately judge darker tones.

Trying to judge tone accurately against white is very difficult as white will always make things look darker than they really are.

I first wet the sky area with clear water, dropping in Raw Sienna and a touch of Alizarin Crimson on the right where the sun is coming from, followed by a little French Ultramarine Blue on the left. It’s important to do this quickly without any fussing, allowing the colours to mix on the paper.

The foreground and walls of the background buildings were washed in with Raw Sienna, Burnt Sienna and touches of Ultramarine. As the wash dried, I spattered water with a toothbrush into the foreground to create texture.

Step 3 – Distant Foliage and Buildings

Once the first washes were dry, I added the background trees with a mix of Cadmium Yellow, French Ultramarine and a little Burnt Sienna for the darks. I combined drybrush and wet edges to suggest the foliage. These dark tones immediately revealed the lighter shapes of the buildings. Roof tops were added with Burnt Sienna and the shadows beneath the eaves with cool and warm tones to suggest the heat and reflected light. Initial washes for the doors, windows and water fountain were also added to the church at this stage.

Step 4 – Foreground Trees

Deeper shadows were added to the doors to show that they are recessed. I then developed the foreground trees and foliage with mixes of browns and dark greens, maintaining soft areas to suggest the patterns of light falling on the trunks.

Step 5 – Foreground Shade

Finally, I added windows to the distant house on the right and developed the shadows falling across the foreground using mixes of Burnt Sienna, Alizarin and French Ultramarine.

I combined areas of soft and dry brush work to suggest the dappled light and textures of the rough surfaces. The addition of a figure provides a sense of scale and movement.

About Paul Weaver

Paul Weaver is a full-time artist, tutor and demonstrator based in Bristol, UK. His primary inspirations are light and atmospheric effects. Townscapes, markets and the bustle of the city are favourite subjects, as well as landscape, marine and coastal scenes. He currently specialises in watercolour, but also enjoys working in oil, acrylic and line and wash.

He is a demonstrator for St Cuthbert’s Mill and a regular contributor for ‘The Artist’ magazine. He is an elected member of the Pure Watercolour Society.

For further examples of Paul’s work and details of his teaching DVDs, painting courses and holidays, please visit his website at

All work ©2016 Paul Weaver

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