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.

269 Looking Back for a New Direction 

Years ago I made my living from painting  and teaching Folk and Decorative art. You can see what I did at my old mothballed site here

I painted a lot, sold a lot and made many friends along the way.  But after selling my business and relocating, I put down the brushes for over 4 years. It took another move to a beautiful new location and a new set of painting friends before I started painting again. I joined the local Art Centre and took part in a 9 x 5 charity auction and painted this little still life, using acrylic paints and decorative painting techniques. 

Much as I enjoyed this style of painting I felt wanted a different direction, something quick and fun and less precious so I started looking online and joined in several sketching forums and tutorials. So began my love affair with pen and wash and watercolour, as well as playing around with gouache and pastels. It’s all good fun. 

But recently I spotted a great reference photo, posted by Crispur on Wetcanvas which made me want to resurrect the acrylics again, but trying to paint in a looser manner than before, using a big brush. 

That came together fairly quick and whetted my appetite for another still life.  Hey, this might be the start of a new series coming on 😁. 

 It takes a bit of getting used to the colour shift and the drying time, so I’m having to relearn how to use acrylics again. I’m using Atelier Interactive acrylics which have a slower drying time than the ones I used to use. I might have to investigate Atelier Free Flow or Holbein Acryl gouache as they may suit me better. Have any of you tried either of these paints? I love to hear from you in the comments. 

And, don’t worry, I’m not about to put away the watercolours just yet 😄

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.


160 Gunk and Stuff

A productive day today. I forgot that I had signed up for a Strathmore online workshop with Patti Mollica. I have always admired her use colour and bold brushwork so I decided to give it a go.

I found my old acrylics – not the heavy body type that she uses, and a 1″ acrylic brush – she uses a 2″. I really don’t want to go out and buy more art supplies, just need to try and use up what I have. So what the heck, just give it a go.

Her method is really quick, especially if you had the right supplies, but even so each painting took less than 1 hour. Pretty fast for me.

This is my painting from the workshop video, with just 4 colours.


As I had a palette of leftover paint I thought I’d do another. This still life was from the Wetcanvas 2 hour challenge, photo supplied by jloren.


I cleaned the acrylics away and seeing there was nothing worth watching on TV came back into my painting room and did my daily sketch for EDIM. Something with an interesting label. Another treasure from “THE SHED”.


134 Christmas tree and Vegetables still life

More catchup. It has been a rather busy time of the year and posting here has slipped to the bottom of the pile.

I have just caught up with my homework for Liz Steel’s Sketching course, going out to sketch a decorated tree in town and a little one inside at home. I am much more comfortable drawing and sketching in the comfort of my ‘studio’,  (well, painting room) than I am sitting on the grass contending with the wind and weather. But this is where the course is good for me, taking me out of my comfort zone. I hope that I can feel comfortable enough soon to be able to sketch and paint oblivious to all that, and be happy with my result. But as they say it’s not the destination but the journey that gives the greatest pleasure sometimes.

First my indoor exercise, a little wooden tree with lots of fiddly bits that I really spent too much time on.

7atree Then the outdoor tree.  It was quite fun sitting out in the park with my sketching buddy, and yes that’s my little car parked on the street.7b tree

Both of these were done on in a cartridge paper journal. It really isn’t satisfactory for watercolour but I thought that I will just use this for a warm up sketch then do a proper one, but it doesn’t seem to happen that way.

Today I had a quiet day at work and was able to do one in between interruptions (work!) 
still lifePainted on Fabriano Studio 300g paper which is only a little better than cartridge.

This was from the WetCanvas Weekend 2 hour challenge – photo kindly supplied by misswiss.

No 102 Tomatoes

tomatoesA change of subject for today. A small still life from last year, painted rather quickly and drippy but I quite like the immediacy and freshness that I achieved here that I don’t seem to get when I take more time with a painting.

Tomatoes – watercolour – 26 x 17 cm

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