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…
This watercolour sketch is an exercise in layering colour painted on khadi paper and inspired by Hazel Soan’s book The Essence Of Watercolour. When layering watercolours you have to let one layer dry completely before adding the next (unless you’re going for a wet in wet effect). This takes PATIENCE… ! I’ve found that patience is one of the hardest things to learn with watercolour painting – just letting certain areas of a painting dry completely without touching or fiddling. Hazel Soan is so right when she says in her book (link above) that much of a watercolourist’s life is spent watching paint dry… !
My landscape above is monochromatic but the colour was mixed in the palette first. The colours I mixed together for my landscape were: Prussian Blue, Indigo and Cadmium Yellow Medium Hue – all by Daniel Smith. I’m going to practice layering much more and start experimenting with different colours to develop an idea of how they work together…
A fun watercolour I did yesterday ~ a bottle of wine, just sitting quietly on the work top in the kitchen waiting to have it’s cork removed… !
This was painted on A4 Khadi paper, 300 lb and 100% cotton. I probably won’t buy this paper again but I need to use up what I already have. The colours I used were Winsor Violet and Indigo for this watercolour.
This was just pure fun to paint and it puts a smile on my face. And it’s also good practice for me. Painting with watercolours doesn’t always have to be about producing “a masterpiece”, sometimes it’s enough to just have fun painting simple every day things. And it’s very relaxing and therapeutic…
An experimental seascape in my Khadi paper sketchbook. The sky is indigo and the sea is a mixture of different blues plus Daniel Smith Rich Green Gold. It looks more effective when viewed from a distance and the real thing looks better than the photograph! I’ve been trying to build up a few light layers of colour without overdoing it. I was tempted to work on this a bit more but I think I’ll leave it as it is…
MIXING RICH GREEN GOLD
I’ve also had a little play with Daniel Smith’s Rich Green Gold (not to be confused with Daniel Smith’s Green Gold, a different colour)…
First I mixed Rich Green Gold with some popular blues. You can see from the chart above I made some lovely green shades. Then I mixed the Rich Green Gold with some reds and made some lovely browns and burnt orange colours. The photograph doesn’t really do them justice. What I’ve learnt from this is that if I want to create some lovely vibrant earth colours then Daniel Smith’s Rich Green Gold is a good colour to create them with…
My Portrait Of Ewe is based upon an exercise in Jean Haines’ Atmospheric Watercolours book. I have to admit that I’ve skipped a few exercises in the book just to get to the sheep a bit quicker… ! I will go back and do the ones I left out….
Jean’s rendition of a sheep is so colourful and vibrant. I loved painting this. This was my third attempt, each one getting slightly better. This was fun to paint and it’s very good practice for me. It was painted on Arches Cold Pressed paper and measures 9″ x 6″.
Since buying and reading this book (I’ve actually read the book 3 times!) my watercolour painting has improved in leaps and bounds. It’s been a real eye opener for me. It’s taught me that I have to let go of all the things that were restraining me, holding me back. Let go of the fears too…
I can honestly say that I’m in a much better place with my watercolour painting now than before I studied this book. It has changed the way I think about and paint with watercolour forever. I can never go back…
I still consider myself to be, not a beginner anymore, but still in the early stages of my watercolour journey. I’ve only been seriously painting with watercolour for about one year. I have a long way to go yet. And I need to practice, practice, practice and practice some more!
So if, like me, you’re learning to paint with watercolours too, keep going and never give up on your dream. I’m not saying it’s going to be easy – it’s going to take a lot of determination and hard work. But we CAN do it…. !
No, I’m not talking about the laundry…. ! When watercolour painting, the expression “wash day” takes on a whole new meaning. Practicing initial washes is an exercise in Jean Haines’ Atmospheric Watercolours book. And I have to say it’s a lovely, relaxing and therapeutic exercise to do.
Here’s my first wash, loosely based on the exercise in Jean’s book in the link above:
A loose, light and colourful wash. This will be the base on which I will eventually build on and create a lovely painting.
My next wash is based specifically upon one of my own photos. A floral photo:
Again, in time, I will build upon this initial wash to create a watercolour painting based upon my photo.
When I have built upon these washes and turned them into finished paintings I will post the results. Not sure when that will be yet but, hey, there’s no rush…. ! They will sit patiently in my studio till I’m ready to work on them. I will know when the time is right….
….with a paint brush. Today I started some practice at drawing with only a paint brush and watercolour paint. No preliminary pencil sketches or lines. Just freehand drawing with a paint brush and watercolour paint.
So with no further waffle I would like you to meet Clifford….
This is just a small watercolour sketch measuring only about 5″ x 3.5″. I painted Clifford on Khadi paper using just one colour, Raw Sienna. At some point I am going to paint more crabs similar to this one but possibly more colourful and textured – some friends for Clifford!
My next drawing subject was also seaside related….
A ships wheel! This sketch is also 5″ x 3.5″ and painted on khadi paper. The colours used were Indigo and Winsor & Newton’s Cobalt Turquoise Light.
I deliberately kept these sketches simple – just simple shapes, lines and simple colours. These sketches are good drawing practice for me and they were fun to do. More drawing with a paint brush will follow in the future….
Some loose, wet in wet watercolour fun. This flower started out as an exercise from Jean Haines’ Atmospoheric Watercolours book but as I started painting it kind of took on a life of it’s own. I just went with it and it now bears no resemblance to anything in the book at all! But I like it….
Paper used was Fabriano Artistico (100% cotton) 140lb NOT. Colours used were Winsor Violet (PV23) and Indigo – a beautiful colour combination. It measures approx. 7″ x 7.5″
This is another exercise from Jean Haines’ Atmospheric Watercolours book. This exercise is all about learning to control watercolour – getting it to move in the directions you wish it to…..
I started with a blank piece of paper and imagine a white circle in the middle. I next painted two lines around the edge of this imaginary circle, roughly top and bottom with gaps….
I then bleed the colour away from the circle with a wet brush. I dropped in more pigment and then bleed the colour away again in the direction you wish it to go. The colour only goes in the direction you invite it to with the brush and water….
The colour will not enter the white circle unless you “invite” it to with your brush and water….
Above you can see that the edges of the circle are blurred because I invited the pigment into the circle with a wet brush.
This was a very simple exercise but I found it very useful. Again, this was not about producing a “masterpiece” or finished piece of work, but simply to learn how we can control watercolour using brushstrokes, placement of water and pigment….
I like my circles and I used Khadi paper for these exercises. From the top, the colours I used were Yellow Ochre, Phthalo Turquoise, Phthalo Blue, Indigo and Prussian Blue.
I started off with Windsor Blue (red shade) and Indian Yellow. Then I added some Buff Titanium, Prussian Blue and Indigo into the mix. Puddles of colour layered together and left to dry. Drying took well over 12 hours. You don’t know what your going to end up with till the paint has completely dried. I love the colour mixes and textures – especially the top two ones in the right hand column! These were purely experimental. I actually used a thick smooth surfaced cartridge paper for these but I will try doing more of these colour mixing samples using hot pressed watercolour paper. A fun watercolour experiment which turned out really well. Please click on the image to view it larger or view it in my Art Gallery….
Just as a side note, I will not be doing any more Surface Treatment Workshop due to current family responsibilities. I’ve really enjoyed this project, learnt a lot from it and experimented with lots of different art mediums which I would not otherwise have done. It forced me out of my comfort zone! But it is a time consuming project and I don’t have the available time at the moment to commit to it. However, I’m still hoping to start an exciting new project in January with Carolyn, all being well. More info about that later in the year….