Watercolour

Harvest Mouse

Harvest Mouse - NB1
Harvest Mouse

A little harvest mouse painted loosely in watercolour. This is my interpretation from the demonstration in Jean Haines’ World of Watercolour book. It was painted without a preliminary sketch first. It measures 28 cm x 19 cm. It was painted on Fabriano Artistico Extra White Rough paper, 140 lb and 100% cotton.

My little harvest mouse may just be ever so slightly on the plump side… ! But I’m generally quite pleased with how he turned out. I was almost on the brink of overworking this – I had to stop myself from fiddling with it. I really enjoyed painting this little mouse – it was fun!

Watercolour

A Posh Frock

A Posh Frock - NB
A Posh Frock

“A Posh Frock” is my watercolour sketch for today. Frock is an old fashioned  word for a woman’s or girl’s dress and a word not really used much today. But being an old fashioned word it is perfect for my old fashioned, vintage watercolour dress.

The dress was painted with Daniel Smith’s Buff Titanium mixed with a little Naples Yellow. No other colours were used for the dress. The coat hanger was painted with a little Paynes Gray and the necklace was painted with Rose Madder. The paper used was Fabriano Artistico Extra White Rough, 140 lb and 100% cotton. I LOVE this paper! “A Posh Frock” measures 19 cm x 28 cm.

This was painted without a preliminary sketch – it was drawn with my paint brush…

Practicing my drawing in a separate sketchbook is really helping me with my watercolour painting. It’s helping me to be more confident when I put paint brush to paper. Straight away I can hear someone out there saying “but I’m no good at drawing…”. Well, the fact of the matter is this:

Anyone can learn to draw

True, some people are more naturally gifted than others but every single one of us can learn to draw. It just takes persistent practice and time. The main sketchbook I use for drawing at the moment is an A4 sketchbook I bought from Poundlands (a UK discount shop) for £1 – it’s brilliant. And I use a Derwent Mechanical Precision Pencil which costs £4.99 with a putty rubber costing £1.50. Drawing is cheap and cheerful and something I can do anywhere any time…

Painting without a preliminary sketch (drawing with a paint brush) is a whole lot harder, I have to admit, than just drawing with a pencil on paper. But, as with all things, it gets easier with practice…

“A Posh Frock” may just get put on the wall in my studio….

Watercolour

Garden Ewer

Garden Ewer - NB
Garden Ewer

A fairly simple watercolour offering for today – a garden ewer. Naturally, I painted this without a pencil sketch first. I picked this subject to paint to practice getting the shapes and lines of the ewer correct without pencil lines to guide me. The shape and form of the ewer is nice and simple. If some of the lines are a little wobbly on close inspection, for me, that is perfectly ok. Imperfection is perfection. Painting without a pencil sketch first, or “drawing with a paint brush” as I like to call it, is going to make my watercolour paintings unique. I’m personally not interested in painting realistic photographic quality copies of a subject, replicating every detail – I would much rather paint just the essence or a personal impression of a subject.

In her book Atmospheric Watercolours Jean Haines likens the preliminary pencil sketch to the bars of a cage that restrict you and fence you in when you are painting. That had a profound effect on me when I read it – I’d never thought of it like that before. And you know what? She’s right !! I think up till then I’d had a preconceived idea of how I thought watercolour painting was supposed to be and I was trying to fit in with that preconceived idea. When I read this section of Jean’s book those preconceived ideas vanished in a “puff of smoke”. They are gone forever. It hit home that I don’t need to conform to traditional watercolour painting philosophies ~ watercolour painting can be whatever I want it to be…

For this watercolour sketch I used a paper I’ve not tried before – Fabriano Artistico Extra White, 140 lb Rough and 100% cotton. This the first time I’ve actually used proper rough watercolour paper – up till now I’ve only bought NOT or cold pressed paper. So what do I think of this paper?? I love it… ! I love how the paint settles into the dips and troughs of the paper – it’s just beautiful. Why have I never tried rough paper before! I love rough paper so much I may never go back to using NOT/cold pressed paper ever again… (although, I will need to use up what NOT paper I already have left!)

Well I think I’ve waffled on enough for now! If you’ve read this far – thank you for sticking with me! I do realize that others may have a completely different view to watercolour painting to me and that’s completely okay too. At the end of the day, we’re all different and have to find our own path to follow that’s right for us personally…

Drawing & Sketching · Watercolour

The Lady In Grey

The Lady In Grey - NB
The Lady In Grey

This is today’s watercolour offering – The Lady In Grey. This is probably the closest I will ever get to life drawing! It measures  19 cm x 28 cm and was painted on Saunders Waterford high white paper, 140 lb NOT. It was painted loosely without a preliminary sketch. But I did do a pencil sketch on a separate sheet of paper first just to get a feel for the shapes and lines. Here’s my pencil sketch:

The Lady In Grey Sketch - NB

I’m hoping that practicing my drawing with a pencil in a separate sketchbook will help me to draw better with my paintbrush. The colours for the skin tones were: Buff Titanium, Naples Yellow, Quinacridone Coral and Burnt Sienna. The grey shawl was painted with a mix of Cobalt Blue and Buff Titanium to make a lovely soft blue/grey.

I like sketching with pencil in a sketchbook but when it comes to watercolour painting I much prefer to paint without a pencil sketch ~ something I’ve learnt from Jean Haines and it has well and truly stuck! However it is a challenge and I need lots of practice.

Looking forward now to what tomorrow’s watercolour offering might be…

 

Watercolour

Simple Seascape

Seascape - NB

Well, it’s been a little while since my last post. I’m not going to bore you with a list of excuses but I decided it’s high time I got back in my little home studio and got painting again!

Here we have a simple seascape practice piece to get myself back into the swing of things. It’s just loose layers of colour and a little bit of splatter for some pebbles on the beach. I like how the sea gently blends into the sky, just how it does when it’s misty on the horizon.

It measures 28 cm x 19 cm and was painted on Saunders Waterford High White paper, 100% cotton and 140 lb NOT. I used an assortment of colours – Manganese Blue Hue, Cobalt Teal Blue, Ultramarine Turquoise, Prussian Green for the sea. French Ultramarine and Indigo for the sky. Naples yellow for the sand and  earth colours for the  splattered pebbles. Paynes Gray and Paynes Blue Gray for the land and rocks.

Whilst I haven’t painted much lately, I have have been gathering lots of lovely inspiration for future watercolours and I’ve also been practicing my drawing as well. It’s lovely to be painting again. I wont leave it so long till my next post…

Watercolour

The Blue Ballet Shoes

the blue ballet shoes - nb
The Blue Ballet Shoes ~ watercolour sketch

The Blue Ballet Shoes – a watercolour sketch. This is the same basic composition as my previous ballet shoe sketch but this one is a looser version, done without any pencil sketch. I did the “drawing” with my paint brush! I deliberately chose soft colours – almost ethereal colours.

Paints used were by Daniel Smith and Winsor & Newton. Buff Titanium, Naples yellow, Quinacridone Coral, Burnt Sienna were used for the skin tones. Winsor Blue Red Shade mixed with white gouache was used for the ballet shoes. A little Yellow Ochre was mixed with the blue for the shadow. The paper used was Saunders Waterford High White, 140 lb cold pressed. I used Just two brushes – a #6 pointed round brush and a 1/2″ flat brush. My sketch measures 19 cm x 21 cm.

I much prefer working without a pencil sketch if possible but it is a challenge. And I did do a few practice sketches before this final version. Watercolour painting is a wonderful way to start the day…

Watercolour

Watercolour Trees

I don’t know why but painting trees is something I’ve struggled with a little. So  some tree studies in watercolour were on the painting agenda yesterday…

Tree Practice 1 - NB
Tree studies on Khadi paper

I found a piece of left over Khadi paper (300 lb) and divided it up into 6 roughly equal squares. Just for the record it measured 21 cm x 23 cm.  I made each square different. For 4 of the 6 small studies I used a Terry Harrison Deerfoot Stippler brush for the foliage on the trees. This is a great inexpensive brush and perfect for the job.

For 90% of these tree studies I used ready made greens – Olive Green, Prussian Green, Rich Green Gold, Sap Green, Cascade Green (Daniel Smith watercolours). I did mix a little green from Winsor Lemon and Ultramarine Blue. Other colours used were New Gamboge, Quinacridone Gold, Quinacridone Burnt Scarlet, Burnt Sienna, Sepia, Lamp Black and some blues for the sky and water in the bottom right study.

This is the first time I’ve been reasonably happy with my watercolour trees. I will continue to practice of course – there are endless possibilities to explore…

Well, a new year has begun. I’m looking forward to new watercolour adventures and opportunities, new challenges… speaking of which – I have accepted my first watercolour commission… ! My watercolour work is currently not for sale but I have accepted this commission as a one off for someone close to me. More details about this in the months ahead…

Watercolour

Dance…

Dance - NB
Dance…

A watercolour sketch on Saunders Waterford, 140 lb, cold pressed watercolour paper. Drawing and painting practice. Daniel Smith watercolours were used. It was a challenge for me. But still much fun to do…

I am pleased to say my recent arm/shoulder injury is steadily improving. I have a way to go still but significant improvement has been made. I find painting easier now which pleases me enormously…

Watercolour

Some Fun With Colour

I will begin this post with my custom built Winsor & Newton Professional watercolour paint box:

My W & N Paint Box - NB
My custom built Winsor & Newton professional paint box

This paint box started life as a 45 half pan set of Winsor & Newton Cotman watercolours. Over many months I have gradually replaced the Cotman pans with Winsor & Newton Professional pans of my choice. The colours in this paint box have also been carefully selected to complement the colours in my Daniel Smith custom built paint box. The two paint boxes will constitute my sketching palette when I’m travelling.

There are 32 colours in my Winsor & Newton paint box…

Colours in my W & N Paint Box - NB

Going from left to right and starting with the top row, the colours are:

Naples Yellow, Winsor Lemon, Indian Yellow, Winsor Red, Permanent Rose, Rose Madder Genuine, Ultramarine Violet, Winsor Violet, Indanthrene Blue, Ultramarine Blue (Green Shade), Winsor Blue (Green Shade), Winsor Blue (Red Shade), Cobalt Blue, Cerulean Blue, Manganese Blue Hue, Cobalt Turquoise, Cobalt Turquoise Light, Phthalo Turquoise, Winsor Green Blue Shade, olive Green, Permanent Sap Green, Green Gold, Yellow Ochre, New Gamboge, Raw Sienna, Burnt Sienna, Raw Umber, Burnt Umber, Van Dyke Brown, Paynes Grey, Lamp Black and Neutral Tint.

There are also 32 colours in my Daniel Smith paint box too. So that makes a total of 64 easily transportable colours at my disposal when I’m travelling. Happy days!

I picked 3 primary colours from my W & N paint box – Permanent Rose, Winsor Lemon and Winsor Blue (Red Shade) – and created a colour chart to see how many different colours I could create from them. I started with a sheet of A4 Khadi paper and drew with pencil as many boxes as I could fit on the page. When I finished I had 83 boxes, including 3 for my original primaries. That’s a lot of boxes – could I fill them all… ?? A tiny amount of doubt crept in…

Winsor & Newton Primary Colours - nb
W & N primary colour chart : Permanent Rose, Winsor Lemon, Winsor Blue (Red Shade)

First lesson learnt is to never doubt myself – of course I can fill all those boxes! I’ve done a few of these charts now and it never ceases to amaze me how many different colours/shades you can create from just a red, a yellow and a blue (and water of course)! It’s a great way to learn about colour theory and colour mixing. I highly recommend giving it a go, it doesn’t matter what red yellow or blue you use and it’s FUN !!

My next colour experiment involved Daniel Smith’s Monte Amiata Natural Sienna (MANS). I mixed it with a variety of different blues:

DS MANS With Blues - NB
Mixing Daniel Smith Monte Amiata Natural Sienna with Blues

Firstly I love the lovely soft greys you get when you mix MANS with French Ultramarine. When mixed with other blues you get some lovely earthy greens and wonderful soft turquoise greens.

My final colour experiment for this post is about mixing greys. The ready made grey colours available to the watercolourist are quite limited so learning to mix them is pretty much essential:

Twelve Shades Of Grey - NB
12 Shades Of Grey

Above are 12 shades of grey – 3 are ready made and 9 are mixed. Just in case you can’t read my handwriting, the grey shades are:

Top Row: Raw Sienna + Ultramarine Blue (W & N), Burnt Sienna + Ultramarine Blue (W & N), Paynes Grey (W & N), Paynes Blue Gray (DS), Neutral Tint (W & N)

Bottom Row: Permanent Alizarin Crimson + Viridian (DS), French Ultramarine + Yellow Ochre (DS), Carbazole Violet +Yellow Ochre +Viridian (DS), Raw Umber + Ultramarine Blue (W & N), Indigo + Yellow Ochre (DS), Winsor Green (BS) + Winsor Red (W & N).

Time spent playing with colour is always time well spent – there’s so much to be learnt from it. When I don’t feel like painting something “serious” or specific, some colour experiments are just the right thing and they are so much fun to do!

Watercolour

Ocean Inspiration

A little more seascape practice was on the agenda for me…

The Power Of Thge Ocean - NB
The Power Of The Ocean

I’ve been trying out yet more different techniques for painting the ocean. I’m slowly but surely grasping how important it is to reserve the white paper where necessary. Yes I can add highlights with white gouache but the original white of the paper is much better. The majority of the white in this seascape is the white of the paper. I have also used a spray bottle to add water in specific areas to help create the waves and sea spray. I’m happy with some areas of this seascape and not so happy with others. But I guess that’s all part of the learning process, as long as I understand why I don’t like certain areas and have an idea of what I would do different next time…

Ocean Inspiration Mosaic - NB
Ocean Inspiration

Above is the remnants of a seascape that went wrong! So I decided to cut it up into abstract squares and glued them to a piece of cartridge paper. Carefully arranged, these abstract squares look lovely together and I find them inspirational. Straight away I noticed how lovely the colours are that I used – Daniel Smith’s Ultramarine Turquoise, Prussian Blue and touches of Indigo. So as a complete seascape this didn’t make the grade but as small abstract pieces of inspirational art they work really well!