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.

Painting with acrylics, Painting, Drawing, Printmaking, Art Courses,

Painting – bright backgrounds and creating luminescence

Setting a challenge for yourself when you are learning to paint can be quite daunting. You look at a pear (in this instance) and you want to get out the yellow and the brown paint and paint a yellow and brown pear with maybe a touch of green. All quite normal, but as many of you will know if you want to play it safe the one thing I’ll do is set you a challenge to push yourself.

To make painting the pears more of a challenge I set them on to two very bright file folders (one is a light cyan and the other a pinky magenta) but painting he whole background in these two startling colours the challenge became to paint reasonably believable pears over the top and allow semi translucent paint layers to only partially obscure the under painting.

So not only was the re a challenge in eh compositional layout of the two pears on a stark background but also the play of colours between the two parts of the painting.

It certainly did prove a challenge and took everyone out of their comfort zones. But what happened during the process was truly satisfying.  This technical exercise took two sessions (four hours) and I admired the tenacity of the KA who certainly struggled as the painting came and went. She struggled with the form of the pear the strange affect of the pink and blue through her pear colours and the wetness of her paint for much of the two lessons.

However, there was a turning point. She stuck with it and turned her painting round. For the last hour of the session she worked back into all parts of the pear and the fore/background. Took risks with the colours she used, and took proactive decisions on the tonal properties of her painting. She even scratched into the paint to reveal underlayers of colour and I almost did a jig round the room when I heard her comment “Wow! That has made the painting luminous.” Well done KA.

I am not sure whether to record that she did later add that she wasn’t sure that if left to her own devices that she wouldn’t get out the yellow and brown paint! ……Just give me time, I thought ,and yellow and brown will have a whole new meaning for you 🙂 (See left hand photo)

Well Done KA – I am very proud of you. Keep at it.

Painting with waterclour, Painting, Drawing, Printmaking, Art Courses,

Painting – Being Bold with Darks: make the lights shine

Working with watercolour there is no white except the paper and the choice and use of colour to emphasise light in painitngs, oh!… and choosing how to apply them of course!!!!

To help you understand how the professional watercolourists do this it is always a good idea to look at thier paintings; and then try out their approaches before working with your own composition in a similar way.

We took a Lucy Willis image of a greanium in a terracotta pot from her wonderful book Light andHow To Paint With It (here on Amazon) and drew her granium first and then created a similar composition using some crocus’ from the garden. Sadly I didn’t photograph the two dainty little blooms I picked. (sorry!)

I feel it is very important to create your own version of the image used in the technical  exercise and something that anyone using other artists work as reference should be very sure to do. This ensures that you develop your own style and keeps your brushwork fresh.

This was also a very useful way of learning to be brave and also a way of building on our pallete practice.  These pictures were painted using cadmium orange, ultramarine and Carmine red, with the addition of leamon yellow to create the greeens.

The first itteration of the geranium image was pretty but not necessarily very brave.  Having critically reviewed teh piece I decided to work back into it with a bluer and more opaque mix.  The difference in the two paintings was noticable and the darker, braver background (bringing it nearer to Lucy Willis’s rendering) really allowed the geranium and the pot to sing.

Above on the outsides are two examples from the lesson and centre is the Lucy Willis Geranium image. On the left there is good contrast in the pot area and on some of the leaves. The egg (or stone) is sell conceived but quite pale. The baclground is quite tentative and a little patchy but there are areas which are well repeated.  The picture on the left is bolder but there is a lack of life in the leaves, they feel flat and the petals are also a little bland. This pot again shows some good paintwork and contrast, the rim on the left could have had a more prominent light detail .  Critical review of your work should always be part of your process and being hoest with yourself is very important. This means constructively looking at the week points but also noticing the parts that do work adn why the image is – or is not working. Just saying thats so bad and putting it in the bin is not going to help you progress.

The rework on the right hand geranium has made a big difference. The bold background has allowed the red petals to sing and more work to the leaves adn the addition of darker lights and pure lemon yellow has bought them to life.  The feature image crocus was worked again too with darker backgrond and stronger purples on the petals. The darker purples have allowed the antlers adn stamens to really become the main feature of the image, that with the addition of the orange detailing to the pot and a more orange mix to the foreground. Below are two works by one of our attendees. You will see that she has begun to work into the background and Im looking forward to seeing how brave she is when building up the image for her homework. 🙂





Painting, Drawing, Printmaking, Art Courses,

Painting: getting to know your watercolour pallet

Learning how to make the right colour for your project will make all the difference to your work and learning what colour make what colours when mixed together is key to making the most of a simple limited pallet which will help tie your painting together.

For these apples chose a variety of yellows, a red and a blue and a dot of black to help tone down colours when necessary, this project uses:

  • Cadmium Yellow Hue
  • Lemon Yellow
  • Cadmium Orange Hue
  • Scarlet Lake
  • ultramarine
  • and a little Ivory Black

Start by creating a tester sheet start by simply mixing the pure colours. Because we are trying for apple colours use the second line uses the colours on the first line mixed with the Scarlet Lake at 50/50 and below the same again with the first colour at 70% and second colour at 30%. Whilst the colours are pretty similar in the yellows there are subtle differences.


As you can see to help keep track of the mixes I have numbered the swatches and noted the mixes. This makes it easier to identify which colours you need to mix where on your image.

Here are some examples of the project made by participants in the class. It is interesting, but not surprising really, to see how the individual artists work differently, and of course their mixes are very individual. The difference is reflected in the final outcomes. This definitely shows how you can personalise your work in line with your own preferences.

Painting, Drawing, Printmaking, Art Courses,

9th August – Painting Day – Abstraction

Todays focus was on developing an image into abstraction. Contry to popular beleif true abstraction comes from studying form and then taking away the detail and developing the essential aspects of its essence.

This is a great skill and one that needs practice to develop.  It is very worth it though as the outcome is so different from an approach which develops from paterns rendered on a canvass and developed into something.  Both have their merits but pure abstraction is not so much a development as a distillation.

Below are some photos from the session which show the development timeline and the outcome.  There is a definate recall of the original hydranga bloom in the final syalised image. The student who produced this by going through the process of selective choice was thrilled to see how strongly the final image represented the flower.