Day 13: Red Gum Returns…

Red gum bush (watercolour)

Red gum bush (watercolour)


I’ve been looking through my previous experiments and examining the few blossoms that are still around on the Red Gum bushes and decided to give it another try.

One thing I haven’t managed to include so far are the distinctive long eucalyptus leaves that this shrub has. Also, most of my previous efforts have missed the very fine, almost fluffy, aspect of the flower heads.

So, here we have the second wash of a new composition. The flowers are more delicate and tomorrow I need to think how to add some foliage.


Day 12: Painting Primroses, Part 2

primroses (watercolour)

primroses (watercolour)


Day two of the primroses study… and, after all my difficulties with negative painting, I’m reasonable happy with how this turned out. Enough to try it again at least!

Probably the major thing I learned from this was to focus only on one flower, or shadow, or leaf at a time. It’s hard to explain without showing you, but I think I was trying to ‘see’ it all in one go and paint too much each time I put the brush to the paper. The result was either too many sharp outlines or a mess of wet washes with no detail at all.

Better definition of flowers & foliage might improve the piece, but it’s only a study and at this point I’m happy to start afresh or move on to something new.

Day 11: Negative Painting & ‘Seeing’ Primroses (Part 1)

Primroses (watercolour)

Primroses (watercolour)


One of my favourite watercolour painters over the past couple of years has been Jean Haines, she has the most beautiful loose style and uses such fantastic colours. I love how she celebrates the accidents and mistakes that happen with watercolour, a philosophy which is especially appealing for beginners, and how with a few gentle brush strokes she manages to bring any subject to life.

I first became aware of Jean when she wrote a series of tutorials a few years ago for the SAA magazine, ‘Paint’, on her method of painting dogs. From there I’ve found other tutorials and now have her books and DVDs.

Currently on her blog she is describing a step by step process for painting primroses that became my practice for today, and will probably remain so for some time as it didn’t go as well as expected!

For some reason I find it incredibly difficult to ‘see’ things in a wash that aren’t there. With negative painting the idea is to pick out the shapes by defining the colours and shapes around them, i.e. after I’ve painted the foliage and surroundings that form the shapes on my initial yellow wash, the primroses should just appear.

Jean always suggests that we should ‘paint for the bin’ to release ourselves from the pressure of making masterpieces of every time – Well, today she would be proud of me because my bin is full! This was my final attempt at 7pm this evening and the best of the lot… maybe my right brain finally kicked in, maybe I was standing further back from the paper… I think I can actually see a couple of primroses in this one!

Day 10: White Cat, 2nd session

White Cat (watercolour)

White Cat (watercolour)


This afternoon I was drawn back to the white cat…. I have all my paints out on the kitchen table so it’s hard to walk past without glancing over and being tempted to sit down and paint.

I appreciate it may be hard see what’s changed here – I’ve just darkened the shadow under the chin, defining the shape a bit more and showing the shoulder, and put a little more colour in the ears & nose. I also added a tiny bit more contrast around the eyes. And I’m going to stop there before I do something I regret!

I’m tempted to add a background to make a stronger statement, but that’s a project for another day, in a new painting.


Day 9: White Cat


White-cat (watercolour)


I couldn’t resist returning to the white cat again, so I could try painting the eyes properly at a better size. So I found a scrap of paper and sketched the head only this time.

I applied some masking fluid around the ears, the whiskers and for the highlights in the eyes, you can see where it’s a bit yellow, and then some light washes for eyes, nose & ears. The shadows around the chin contour ended up less defined than I intended but maybe I can improve that on the next session.

Obviously it still needs a bit more work to be done, but I’m fairly pleased so far…