295 Watercolour Classes

I recently taught a beginners watercolour course at a local arts centre and in doing some preparation, was attempting some loose still life paintings, in the style of the late, great Charles Reid. No one comes close to his style but I think these later ones are an improvement on my very early attempts at watercolour.

Have a look at my earliest watercolour on this blog, which incidentally I started way back in October 2011 merely to keep a record of my progress.

The composition was acceptable, a reasonable attempt at negative painting, but the rest was pretty bad. I’m glad I started this blog (which was purely for my own record) so I do have a record of paintings that have since long gone. This one to the rubbish bin.

The following are my most recent still life watercolours, both painted with my limited palette of Cotman colours on Bockingford paper with cheap Renoir brushes.

I chose these budget supplies because I was allocated a limited budget to supply paints, brushes and paper for each student. I am more than impressed with Cotman watercolours. Classified as a student range the tubes have the pigment code, permanence and lightfast rating listed which a lot of the cheaper brands don’t.

The Renoir brushes also perform extremely well for their price. At $4 and $6 (Australia) each I don’t mind replacing them more often but so far they are still working like new.

Bockingford paper is manufactured by St Cuthbert’S Mill makers of many of the top watercolour papers, and is very forgiving. It is heavily sized and takes a lot of punishment, can be wiped back or erased easily, but sometimes this can be problem as multiple layers can tend to lift if the paint is applied with too heavy a hand. I’ll continue to use it.

263 Mini Canvases

I’ve been experimenting with gouache over gesso on these little canvases. It’s not as receptive as paper, as I like to begin with thinned paint to block in the shapes, progressively adding thicker paint strokes on top. The gesso is a bit resistant to the initial layer of paint and it takes a little extra work to cover the white spots that show in the weave. When finished I give the canvas a couple of light coats of Matt varnish spray.  Ready to hang on the wall without having to frame behind glass.

Why bother with gouache instead of acrylic? No particular reason, I just love gouache!

And at last, my first selfie sketch without glasses! I have had follow up eye surgery after 5 months following complications with the first surgery. Now all is good and I am just using cheapie x2 glasses for reading. 

Watercolour with watercolour pencil in 6 x 8 Quill cartridge paper journal.

196 Still Life

I’m still experimenting with different techniques, occasionally coming to a full stop and  needing to backtrack.  So I thought I’d take a little inspiration  from one of my heros – Shirley Trevena.
I just love her work. I find it so interesing and I always keep finding surprises when I look at her paintings. Inspiring stuff.

Here is my attempt at a Shirley style – not too successful but it was a lesson in making me think outside the box. I used a photo reference from Lucylove from the 2 hour challenge on Wetcanvas for my tentative effort.


189 That Pink Hat and Cyclamen

I think I have a problem. I suffer from ADD – Artistic Distraction Disorder. Each time I go into my painting room to clean up the mess from my last painting I get sidetracked and do something completely different instead. Or I have in mind to do a particular sketch and a different one grabs my attention. My problem is that I want to do it all and do it now.

At least I finished this sketch off today. It looked a bit bare at the bottom of the page so I added a quote from Charles Reid, an artist I admired right from the start of my watercolour journey.


And one I’m still working on with watercolour pencils. I rarely use them on their own, usually only as an addition over watercolours. But this makes for a tight drawing, not really what I wanted so I might play a bit with gouache as well.


Reference  photo by Oty for the Wet canvas 2 hour challenge.

114 Poppies

Another floral this week – Scattykat kindly supplied a photo and a challenge on Wetcanvas and a link to the wonderful artist Joanne Boon Thomas on youtube for inspiration.poppies


 Watercolour – 38 x 56 cm.  Pretty large for me : )

but as I have to get some paintings together for an exhibition I need to paint more this size.

No 82 Blurred Zinnias and ATC

A new direction for me – a slight deviation away from realism. I find it so difficult to get inspiration to think and paint in the abstract way – but what the heck – it’s another way of experimenting with paint.

Surob provided the reference for last weeks WDE on WetCanvas and the challenge was to have fun.

Acrylic 23 x 25 cm

This little one was painted as an exchange ATC. I did a little stalking and found a reference photo of the recipients mother in her garden. It is hard painting at this size.

Gouache 9 x 6.5 cm

No 78 Flame Lily

Flame Lily – watercolour – 18 x 24

I tried for a wild and free background but think I overdid it – not good at backgrounds yet. I should have left well enough alone, but I had the urge to experiment.
white knight watercolour pans – cad. red, alizarin crimson, lemon yellow, cobalt, ultra blue and indigo with watercolour pencils grated into the wet paint – on fabriano studio 300g paper.

No 48 Watering Can


Here is another struggle tonight -I find all my watercolours a struggle and hard to master but that’s what keeps me going. If I learn something quickly and find it easy I lose interest quickly too. I think I will be attempting to master watercolours for many years to come 
This one is from last weekend’s AMAE on WetCanvas.com – some great photos there by KreativeK.