I am very honored to have the chance to explain here in my
step by step article, my watercolor techniques, and my DANIEL SMITH
color mixes for my study of the light.
I really like the reflections on glass bottles, it is a long time
that I study this kind of subject. In this case I was dining at the Hard
Rock Café in Budapest, during the International Watercolor Mail Art
Exhibition, and while I was walking in front of the bar, the cold light
hit me hard as it bounded cleanly from every reflection. I immediately
thought to shoot some photographs in order to develop a watercolor in
The complexity of this subject is not only about the reflection but the three-dimensionality of the various surfaces.
My Painting Process
The paper I have chosen for this painting is a soft press, extra white watercolor paper, 640gsm (300lb) – full sheet, 76x56cm.
After transferring the drawing with a 5B pencil (I use this to have a
bold line, the drawing is essential because I need to transfer all
possible lines onto the paper) I started to work on the ceiling lights
contour, with French Ultramarine + Wisteria + Lavender, to reproduce the LED lamp halo.
To paint the coffer, after the yellow base, I mixed again Hansa Yellow Deep + French Ultramarine + Manganese Blue Hue + Cerulean Blue, giving a greenish reflection. As a final glaze I added Van Dyck Brown so to highlight all the lamps.
Before going on with the bottles, in the various plans (layers), I
have done the restaurant’s wall background, all out of focus,
representing in this way the eye of the camera.
For dark tones I have tested various mix of colours, often avoiding the use of the ready black; most used mix is Van Dyck Brown + Neutral Tint + French Ultramarine + Mayan Blue Genuine + Mayan Dark Blue.
Next steps are the bottles, painted one by one, ending piece by piece, bottle by bottle. I start from left to right for all of this part of the painting. This process is the most complex because I must already paint the final light of the object without making the contour done.
For warm tones, I have made yellow glazes for the base with Hansa Yellow Deep + Raw Sienna Light, and then a mix of Quinacridone Gold + Quinacridone Sienna and Pyrrol Orange for the first glaze of red tone.
Quinacridone Gold is a wonderful base for the next glazes of reds, because of its reflective glow.
Dark color on light colors: I have always used Van Dyck Brown, at a minimum percentage, and Quinacridone Gold, as you should be able to see on the Southern Comfort and Grand Marnier bottles at their first glaze.
For the light and transparent bottles that characterize all the right side of the painting, the prevalent mix was Naples Yellow + Titanium White + 1% Ultramarine Blue, and creating that light greyness, is a little Buff Titanium.
The use of extra white paper has helped the work very much on light tones giving them a lot of light.
The most intricate (complex) work for such a composition is not about
the enormous quantity of details, but about the shadows creating of all
the colour tones that are there, mostly on white, because their tone
percentage is almost nonexistent. Creation of such shadows creates, in
turn, three-dimensionality and volume to each object.
Why I choose DANIEL SMITH Watercolors:
DANIEL SMITH Extra Fine Watercolors represent for me the purity and that brilliance that a color has to have.
Their smoothness, quality and softness allow me, as an artist, to push beyond my limits.
My artist’s hand (the pilot) and DANIEL SMITH Extra Fine Watercolor
(the vehicle) create that binomial that makes the mind open to new
experiences, new lines, and new and unimaginable sensations. Their
brightness makes them unique in their genre.
I really enjoy using these impressive watercolors because they allow
me to find an infinite line of experimentation and, at the same time,
make me that creator of works that I did not imagine before I could
The dot card shows my useful colors for my still life paintings, the base to start mixing and explore a new concept of painting.
-Giovanni Balzarani, NWS, InArte
MY DANIEL SMITH PALETTE
- Blue Apatite Genuine
- Lunar Blue
- Cascade Green
- Jadeite Genuine
- Cobalt Teal Blue
- Mayan Blue Genuine
- Payne’s Blue Gray
- Aussie Red Gold
- Quinacridone Gold
- Pyrrol Orange
- Cadmium Red Medium Hue
- Aureolin – Cobalt Yellow
- Imperial Purple
- Prussian Green
- Naples Yellow
- Neutral Tint
- Van Dyck Brown
- Lunar Black
Giovanni Balzarani is an Italian painter. He graduated from the
Academy of Fine Arts in Rome in 2003; for 10 years he worked as a
Giovanni has been painting watercolor since he was 9 years old, then
he explored other painting techniques in his artistic studies, winning
local national recognition, but only recently he has joined the
watercolour international scene, where he has started to collect
appreciations and awards.
He is a member of InArte Fabriano and, since 2017, the Italy Country
Community Leader for the Fabriano In Acquarello International Watercolor
Festival; he is also member of the National Watercolor Society (NWS).
His work is mainly focused on still life in the hyper-realistic
style, influenced by Pop-art and Photorealism artists such as Andy
Warhol, Ralph Goings and Chuck Close.
His painting style is always gentle, and his main subject is glass and metal objects of the modern daily life.
He lives, works and paints in Latina (near Rome).
DANIEL SMITH Artist Feature: Giovanni Balzarani