All posts by Emily Falco

Inside the Artist’s Studio with Emily Falco: Creating a Watercolor Still-Life in 5 Steps

Hello fellow art lovers -

It’s a warm, rainy, December evening here in Ithaca; not too typical of western New York this time of year! It’s this type of inclement weather that for me, forecasts a painting night.

Welcome to the studio!

Welcome to the studio!

For my introductory post, I wanted to give you readers out there a little more than an “about the artist” spiel. So here is a quick tutorial to describe one of my favorite painting techniques; in this case, to create a simple still life in just a few steps.

I work almost solely in watercolor, a medium that folks often tell me is “the most unforgiving,” or “the hardest.” I beg to differ – I’ve had a lot of practice, no doubt, but you can turn all the “cons” of watercolor into “pros” with time, patience and technique. There are difficulties with every type of painting, sculpture, what have you. That being said, I hope that if you are interested in painting with watercolor, but intimidated to work with it, that this tutorial might give you a fresh perspective, allowing you to delve into water paint in a whole new way.

Here’s our subject:

To celebrate the seasons of both coasts, I've chosen a persimmon and a sprig of juniper.

To celebrate the seasons of both coasts, I’ve chosen a persimmon and a sprig of juniper.

STEP 1: SKETCH IT OUT
You don’t want to put a lot of detail in here. Keep in mind that this isn’t a drawing, you’re just setting up for your painting. Think light pencil strokes.

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STEP 2: THE WASH
Where is the lightest point of your subject? In this case, it’s the highlight on the persimmon. I left a couple highlights on the juniper berries as well. Everything else is darker, right? So paint everything else! Choose a neutral color, and bring your paint all the way to the edges of the paper.

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STEP 3: ESTABLISH YOUR VALUES
This step gives your subject a little body. Choose another (perhaps complementary) neutral color, and loosely block in the shadows and midtones. A lot of detail is not needed.

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STEP 4: ADD IN YOUR COLOR
Ok, now you have your subject defined. It’s time to put the color in! Add a little color into the back and foreground too. Keep your palette simple – limit yourself to just a few colors.

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STEP 5: ADD THE DARK, DETAIL, & FINISHING TOUCHES
Now that your subject is colored, you need to finish it off with the darkest value. This will make it pop! Add a little texture, color the background a bit more, etc. Voila! You have a little painting, in just 5 steps.

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ABOUT THE ARTIST

Emily Falco is an artist nationally recognized for the romantic quality portrayed in her watercolor representations of everyday perspectives. In this early stage of her career, she has lived and painted throughout New York State, from New York City through the Hudson Valley to the Adirondack Mountains and into Ithaca where she currently resides.

Falco’s work has garnered national attention as a featured artist in American Artist Watercolor magazine, and on NBC’s Martha Stewart Live television program.  Since 2008, Falco has continuously exhibited her work in solo, joint and group shows, including a recent solo exhibition at Cornell University. She holds a B.F.A. from The Cooper Union School of Art in New York City.

For more information please visit: http://emilyfalco.com/


Stop by Main Street Arts to see two of Emily Falco’s watercolor paintings in our current exhibition, Small Works 2015 (one of which was an award winning piece!). Take a look at our previous Inside the Artist’s Studio blog post by fabric sculptor & collage artist Jody MacDonald.