Revisiting watercolour painting

Late last year I started a watercolour on-line course.  After 3 lessons I was stuck and my problems were very basic: When do you work on dry paper, when wet?  What does prepare and stretch your paper first mean?  Once my basic sky and landfall is in place am I supposed to be working fast so the whole composition is on damp paper?  Obviously you can’t re-wet for future layers because the first layers will run, or will they?  And a range of other extremely ‘new to watercolour’ questions.

I didn’t post my lesson 4 progress as I couldn’t finish the exercise.  Don’t get me wrong, these on-line courses are fantastic through Art Tutor, but I needed a little more info than they provided in this case.

Here’s where I got to in lesson 4:

You can see where I tried to add markings for fields, which have sunk into the background and after hours of blotting off and restarting I decided to give it a miss.  I want to add colour to my prints, not be a landscape artist.  I wasn’t enjoying it and wasn’t getting where I hoped to be.

So this week I went to an absolute beginners class which meant I could ask questions, stand around the demonstrator and get advice as I worked.  Superb.  In addition I benefited from the experimentation and questions from the other students, which is always invaluable.

We were provided with 2 different brushes and I immediately took to the No. 10 synthetic (no sable available) which I used throughout.

As usual with Brenda, her teaching was step-by-step, calmly given and precise.


We explored various mark-making techniques, creating specific shapes, working wet-on-wet, wet-on-dry, shading and wax resists.

The difference in outcomes from each of the participants was quite extreme, I thought.

Some were very heavy-handed and worked extensively with the tip of the brush, working small, neat precise areas.  The watercolours were diluted to different strengths and I tended towards a more translucent appearance.  Isn’t that the point?  Isn’t it supposed to be ‘watery’?

Most, I found, used them more concentrated than I, and it helped me understand how to achieve a receding background and a more solid foreground (thinking back to my landscape attempts).  However, I enjoy the layering and the mix of colours produced when overlaying very translucent aspects.

Once we had explored the media – paper, brushes and watercolours – we moved on to layering colours, which is apparently called glazing.  The aim was to fill an A4 sheet with colour effects.

Now that’s much more ‘me’ than producing a landscape.  My blog is full of experimental shapes, must be my subconscious mind pointing where I should be going.

My kites.

It was an interesting and informative few hours.  I have a better understanding of the media and know what I want to use them for in the future.

Sorry, followers, if you’re looking for landscapes you will need to redirect your search.  They won’t be coming from me, not in watercolour at least!

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About Claire B

I'm a passionate printmaker, paper-maker and a poor sketcher (which I'm working to improve). I've stitched from early childhood and am a perpetual student, loving learning and participating in everything creative.
This entry was posted in My Creative Pieces, My painting and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

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