Painting with waterclour, West Darmoor Art Courses News

Layers and luminosity – Top Tip for watercolour painting

Letting the paint do the hard work using translucent washes in layers takes the guessing out of watercolour painting.

This exercise uses a restricted palette to create a simple landscape with tree as an exercise in suing washes to build depth and solidity in a painting.  This approach can be used with all painting mediums but here we are using watercolour.

We started by drawing a simple composition with three horizons a tree and a path. The secret to creating harmony and distance is to keep it simple.  Paint the sky area and the two far hills in Prussian blue and the when dry then paint the foreground with either a light cadmium yellow or mis (as we did) cadmium yellow hue with lemon yellow and paint up over the two hills in the background (and the tree – something we forgot!). remember to create space in the canopy.

Next mix a little blue into the yellow and create a mid-green paint the middle tree loosely over the yellow, leaving some light areas, paint over all grass areas leaving the path. You can add a little detail into the path with a few touches of paint.

Gradually add a bluer mix and paint in new trees, darken the trunk of the first tree and the middle hill. Once dry move on to a stronger green and loosely begin to address the forms of the trees. Lastly, use a thin wash on the far hills to knock them back if necessary and a stronger blue mix to create shadow areas on the bowl of the trees, the trunks and add their shadows.  Job done.

To underline this new approach, we then recreated the scene using a different palette. I used ultramarine and cobalt mixed and yellow ochre. To this mix I also added a touch of complementary orange to grey down the colours and create a very different feel for the composition.

RD’s two pieces showed her growing confidence (image three). She worked much more loosely on the second attempt, showing how well she understood the processes we covered today. Well Done RD

Painting with waterclour, West Darmoor Art Courses News

Doodles set you free

Doodle Do – Derring do- a must do fun approach to experimenting with wet in wet and wet on dry without worrying about the results and getting …..Reeesultz!!!

Sometimes playing around can be as productive as a day behind a school desk.  Using an approach which enables a can-do, no worries and no restrictions approach can really encourage experimentation which leads to a more dynamic and brave approach in any creative pastime.

Working freely with washes and splashes of colour, carelessly missing and moving the paint around on the page is not only therapeutic and relaxing but , without he constraints of “I have to get it right” allows everyone to try this, try that, and even make serious messy muddy patches! Of-course messy muddy patches are not really what I was looking for but, in their own way they can lead to a realisation of how paint works and where adding too much water can lead to dull outcomes. So! everyone is a winner.

The fun in this is to interpret the marks made and I love how everyone was really up for trying things and being a bit brave.  Reassuringly the outcomes led to exclamations for delight and wonder at how characterful and interesting the images became.

Perhaps is the illustrator in me, but I loved these renditions of figures and animals.

Drawing Tips, West Darmoor Art Courses News

Mapping a drawing with Negative Space

Creating an acurate depiction of a still life can be much easier if you understand how negative spaces create structure to a composition.

Today our drawing class was pretty small…well very small! Everyone gets so busy over the summer. So DPH and I had a one to one session – Thrown in at the deep end rather as it was DHP’s first session with us…… She did survive – LOL – and enjoyed herself too.

Today’s session was working with negative space and, as usual started with a doodle warm up. It is always such a good idea to start your creative session with some time out repetitive drawing. Whatever pattern you chose repeat it and set yourself tasks such as starting in a different place, changing pencil grip or drawing hand. Do this for around 10 minutes (or, if you are enjoying it keep going until you are suddenly mind-blowingly bored.

Reading through our hand out and having talked through how useful it is to understand negative space and use it to map out your composition we were ready to start.  As usual we began with a series of quick drawings to help get “our eye in”. One, two, four and twelve minutes working small on four separate drawings of the same set up really helps you assure your brain that whilst you know what a ???? looks like (in this case a pair of nut crackers) drawing it relies on making sure that each area is mapped out as a shape and not as a nut cracker!


This drawing shows how I mapped out the still life using the paper meeting points and the angles the nut crackers created as they crossed the papers to map out a negative drawing of the objects. Something that DPH soon realised was a new and slightly brain straining approach. However, with each attempt I could see how well she was bringing the idea on board; having begun to understand what we were looking at it was time to start on a longer study.

With the longer study I was pleased to see GHP critically appraising her drawing, realising that she was tending to rely on what she thought rather than what she could see. By encouraging her to really look and evaluate she was more and more ready to move lines and remap her composition.  This is a great start and possibly a difficult approach as, in general, it is so easy to try and work round parts of a drawing which you have invested time in and are reluctant to discard.

Below are some of the mistakes I was making along the way and the final layout done in around 1.15hours.


Painting with waterclour, Painting, Drawing, Printmaking, Art Courses,, West Darmoor Art Courses News

Painting in new ways to increase your vocabulary

When you are learning about how to use paint, how to create a palette that suits you and as a way to shake up your approach I like introduce alternative approaches through images made by a range of artists. Often in styles which are very different to the participants normal approaches.

There were only two of us today so poor K had my undivided attention. However, I think my scrutiny really helped her work through her issues with this entirely new approach. One she had never used acrylics and two acrylics work in a totally different way to watercolour (her normal approach to colour)

I really took my hat off to her determination to work with the image she had picked from a number I had found on Pinterest. All of them were very different, some in oil, some in acrylic, some mixed media and one or two watercolour. Sadly, as is the wont of Pinterest many of the images where not credited so, sadly, we can’t credit the artists we used.

Very different images to work with. My chosen three pears and K’s one. We looked carefully for clues as to how the artist had worked. K’s worked in loose layers the overpainting used on slightly wet paint and creating its own third colour in much of the image.  The palette is strong and not a natural choice for her. So a really big gold star. I love how she has developed the image and worked with the acrylic paint, finding positives in how it works and what it can achieve.

I enjoyed this new approach too. I particularly liked the simple colourful imagery. I worked a little faster than K and (with a little overrun!) managed to first try the image I had chosen and then using the pears from earlier created my own composition in the same style.

Really enjoyed the process and will see how I can develop this style to suit my subject matter.

Drawing Tips, Painting, Drawing, Printmaking, Art Courses,, West Darmoor Art Courses News

Drawing -finding new lines with new approaches

Today was about underpinning some of the lessons we have used over the past few months and to try and bring them together and, hopefully, work towards a cohesive drawing.

Everyone worked really well, and to be honest, every one struggled a little with the concept of not drawing a contour line to work within as the drawing progressed.

The first few exercises used the principals of 1,2,4 and 8 minutes to build fist rough shapes, overall shape, tonal values and negative and positive shapes. As we worked through this part some exterior lines where erased or subsumed by a darker area.

The final drawings were done over the next hour. I didn’t take progress pictures particularly, which is a great shame as over the hour the drawings found themselves, lost themselves and re-emerged the better for careful consideration of how one value worked against another and where shadows or reflections changed the tonal reading.

we used a stylised flower repeat pattern to warm up before starting to draw…..much more fun than boxes !!!