Canal Boat – Jackdaw

Jackdaw – boat on the Kennet & Avon Canal. Watercolour and gouache, on Saunders Waterford board, 11x15in.

Earlier this year I received a commission for a painting from a lovely lady in work. She wanted a painting of her husband and children on their canal boat in the Kennet & Avon Canal. She supplied the image, a photo, which was the only reference I had to work from.

I used Saunders Waterford board, which is really thick and has a watercolour surface. It is really nice to paint on, the surface remains intact even with lots of water on it and never becomes muddy or mushy. I recommend this for watercolour and gouache painting.

As always I started with a pencil drawing. This time I remembered to use a 4B pencil and not to put too much pressure on the paper surface, that being a thing I did wrong on the previous image and regretted it all the way through. The drawing didn’t need too much detail becuase I can add that at the paint stage.

I added a thin ‘tea’ layer of watercolour, trying to vary the colours so that it didn’t become too boring. this image was painted ‘tonally’ as opposed to trying to match the colours exactly.

I painted the trees in the background and some of the path with thicker paint, the ‘milk’ layer. Then started on the man driving the boat.

This part of the painting is the most difficult, when it seems almost insurmountable and you worry that it s too dark etc. However, as I’ve said before, this is the very point at which you have to press on, keep going. If you do this, you will succeed. It is vital to keep positive.

I started on the boat, I needed that to be done so that I can start on the reflections in the water around the boat. At this point I got really worried that there is too much green in the image and that it would become ‘boring’.

The reflections in the water I made quite dark, which helped anchor the boat to the surface, and started to make it look a bit more like water, at least I hope it did!

The finished painting.

At this point when I removed the masking tape I realised that I hadnt got it quite straight. Something I will watch out for like a hawk in the future. Luckily the client loved it and had it framed with the margin removed.

Here is a full list of the paints that I used:

Artists Watercolours

Windsor & Newton Lemon yellow

Daniel Smith Ultramarine blue

Daniel Smith Neutral tint

Daniel Smith Yellow ochre

Windsor & Newton Raw umber

Artists Gouache

Rowney White (quite a bit!)

Daniel Smith Ultramarine blue

Daniel Smith Pyrol Orange

Rowney Deep red

Rowney Light flesh

The finished painting, all framed and ready to be given as a Christmas present!

I accept commissions, contact me for a quote.

Create a website or blog at

%d bloggers like this: