Watercolour

Just Opening

Just Opening - NB
Just Opening – a daffodil study in watercolour

I don’t have any daffodils in my garden so I had to buy some from my local supermarket. They were all tightly in bud when I bought them but very soon started to open. I decided to paint some watercolour studies of them in bud first and then I will do some more of them open. I did some quick pencil sketches first in my sketchbook before committing brush to watercolour paper.

Inspiration came from Jean Haines Atmospheric Flowers book. Of course, no pencil sketch was made on the watercolour paper before painting. This is my first ever attempt at painting daffodils and I’m quite pleased with them. But of course there’s always plenty of room for improvement…

Paper used is Fabriano Artistico extra white rough, 140 lb cotton and watercolour paints are by Daniel Smith.

Watercolour

Colour Play

Some watercolour play is on the agenda today…

Colour Play 1 - NB
Colour Play 1

In this first colour experiment I have some beautiful Daniel Smith pigments painted on beautiful Fabriano Artistico Extra White Rough paper. The rough texture of the paper really exaggerates the granulating characteristic of the paint – I love that. Colours used are: Raw Sienna Light, Cobalt Teal Blue, Yellow Ochre, Quinacridone Gold, Cerulean Blue Chromium and Cascade Green. The Cascade Green, Cerulean Blue Chromium and Cobalt Teal Blue complement each other superbly…

Colour Play - Green Envy - NB

Colour Play – Green Envy

In my second colour play sample I have used just six different shades of green. From the left the colours are: Phthalo Green Blue Shade, Viridian, Prussian Green, Cascade Green, Rich Green Gold (all by Daniel Smith) and Olive Green (Windsor & Newton). I just painted the colours on the paper randomly – no over thinking it. Straight away I notice that the Prussian Green and Cascade Green work together beautifully. And I like how the Rich Green Gold and Olive Green contrast and complement each other really well. This is what these colour experiments are all about – discovering how pigments react and mix together, discovering what I like, what works well and what doesn’t….

Colour Play 2 - NB
Colour Play 2

My third set of colour play samples were painted on Arches cold pressed paper. Slightly softer colours this time. Colours used, from the left, are: Manganese Blue Hue, Buff Titanium. French Ultramarine, Naples Yellow, Cascade Green, Cerulean Blue Chromium and Paynes Blue Gray, all from Daniel Smith. I like the Naples Yellow and the Cascade Green together – they’re lovely! And I also particularly like the Manganese Blue Hue and Buff Titanium together.

Three successful colour experiments accomplished. I think it’s important to allow yourself time to just play with colour – with no pressure to paint “a masterpiece” or to be successful. If you don’t like the colours you’ve chosen you just put it down to experience, turn the paper over and start again… ! This is the way to learn about colour and discover wonderful colour combinations…

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…

Drawing & Sketching

Simple Sketches

Trying to improve my drawing skills is an ongoing project of mine. The theory is that the better my basic drawing skills are, ultimately the better my watercolour painting will be. Everything has shape/form, perspective, light/shade etc. and being able to capture that reasonably accurately on paper (with any medium) is going be of enormous help to me.

So here’s a couple of simple pencil sketches done whilst watching TV in the evenings…

ballerina - nb
Bellerina
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Dancing

With these sketches I simply tried to capture the basic shape and form. I wasn’t concerned with huge amounts of detail but just enough to recognize what it is. I find getting the proportions (the size of one thing in relation to another) right is a challenge but very important for me to learn.

I did these sketches with a Derwent Precision mechanical pencil, 0.7 mm. It’s not expensive. And I had my trusty putty rubber handy too… !

Drawing is something I can do anywhere, any time. I keep a small, thin sketchbook in my handbag. But most of all… I like drawing – it’s fun…

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…