Watercolour paints last really well and can be an heirloom item to be passed down from generation to generation. Don’t hesitate in buying the best set you can afford and use them often.
Painting ‘white objects’ can be struggle for those just starting out with watercolour. The trick is to leave the paper behind as the light. But also remember that white objects are often not white – look for the colours.
Other techniques include using a darker background which can definitely help a white object POP. By making the tones around the white darker, the white ends up looking lighter. You can also use masking fluid which you apply to the page, paint over and, when the paint is dry you then peel off to leave the bare paper. This is definitely worth experimenting with.
The magnolia drawing below was created during a live Zoom session with members of my Paint Along of the Month Club. While the first drawing is nice, see how much brighter the flower with the coloured background appears?
Painting the sky is another skill to practice. The sky is not always blue – it can be made up of many colours. My advice is using a big brush (in relation to your painting) so you are less likely to see brush strokes. Use plenty of water – don’t be scared – and practice. Practice, practice. Observe that the lightest part of the sky is usually at the horizon – it is the furthest away, so it is paler. Above you is the brightest or darkest colour.
And the ducks below aren’t actually ‘painted white’… they’re paper-coloured. It’s the blue sky that makes them white. Practice painting and drawing negative spaces to get better at leaving the white of the subject behind in watercolour.
Last Sunday we welcomed 20 lovely painters to the new studio to enjoy a Watercolour Wonders Workshop.
Covering the basics of both colour theory and watercolour, my mother, Diana Battle, and I, prepared a suite of exercises and examples that were designed to ‘learn by doing’.
It was our first workshop together and I really enjoyed spending the day sharing Mum with everyone! She’s a very talented painter and it was great to hear her explain some of her methods out loud – and to witness her ‘changing her mind’ as she paints!
Everyone took home a new set of watercolours, brushes and paper so I hope they are well used in the weeks and months to come.
I’m heading off to Munich, Berlin, Cologne and Paris (I can’t believe it) on Wednesday night.
It’s a trip that’s been 3.5 years in the planning (and gentle saving) and, as I’m usually from the school of “if it fits, pack it” (we rarely fly anywhere), I’ve been reading articles and making lists to make sure I only take the necessities this time.
I plan to be drawing and painting as much as possible. I’ve put together my ‘Postcard Project’ and I want to do some really terrific pictures for the lovely people who are trusting me to send them great art for their walls.
But I’ll also be carrying my kit everyday. I want to paint on the plane, on the train and in cafes. I really want it to be easy. And so this is what I’ve come up with.
The clear lidded zip pouch came in a set of 3 “Clear Cells” from Kathmandu. This middle sized one fits my pencils comfortably and just the one brush needs to be on a bit of a angle. But there’s heaps of room for all this:
- one Winsor & Newton travel set of watercolours (I’ve actually had this set for over 25 years)
- one Winsor & Newton travel set of gouache paints (I replaced the watercolours with tube gouache… it’s not setting hard like the watercolours but it doesn’t seem to be going anywhere either, so I think they’ll be ok… and to complete the story, this is the set I bought because I loved the original one I had, but couldn’t find it, but as soon as I bought the new one I found the old one… always the way)
- one small ruler (I don’t use it often but it’s good for sharp folds and for tearing paper)
- lip gloss (because I simply can’t paint with dry lips)
- mechanical pencil
- Aquash medium waterbrush (I like this size and brand)
- Derwent water spray (I may end up using this more for taming my frizzy hair than for art… we’ll see)
- #8 round brush (will suit my A5 paper size)
- 2 x waterproof pigment ink pens (I prefer .5 and .8 sizes)
- white gel pen
- double barrel sharpener
- kneadable eraser (this is like blutac and is great for gently removing pencil lines)
- small plastic cup (just in case)
- 12 watercolour pencils
I’m also taking a Rhodia notebook (boy, this was a big decision! Like this one, but A5 size) to complete the set. It doesn’t quite fit in the pouch, but I’m ok about that.
The beauty of this booklet is that I can remove just a couple of pages at a time – meaning I don’t have to take a fairly heavy notebook each day. I’ve added a loop of elastic to my daily planner (another story) so I can take the pages with me in that (it’s also homemade and really light).
The covers are made out of plastic from old display books (so light but sturdy), and I cut a 15mm spine from the same stuff. Then taped it all together with some patterned duct tape I couldn’t resist in Target last week (I really don’t get out much, we were there to find party favours) and used black hat elastic to make 4 loops to hold the pages. I taped the loops down on the outside of the booklet. You can see a 15 second video of that book here.
And then I decided I also wanted to have an ‘ultralight’ art set. So I replaced the cheap paints in a teeny, tiny, Mont Marte kids paint set with my favourite Winsor & Newton gouache colours and painted the lid like a giraffe (like “gouache”, get it?). The giraffe was inspired by Jennifer Mercede’s giraffes. I’m a long time admirer. It was a total indulgence and quite a blissful little project.
I’ll pop it in this little pencil case with just a few essentials, and use the watercolour paper that I add to my planner for the day. I’ve included a grey SAI brush pen in this set, as well as the rubber/sharpener combo and the ever-necessary lippy.
So there you go! I think I’ve got all I need… artwise at least. I’m struggling to leave other favourite supplies at home (dip pens and ink… how can I go without for 25 days?) but I’m pretty sure there are art supplies shops in Germany and Paris, in case of emergency.
Now to pack the rest of my stuff I guess. Should be a breeze.
(If you’d like to receive 3, 5, 6 or 10 of the artworks I create on this trip, posted to you as real life, actual, glossy postcards while I’m away, you can. Just click through here and take a look. I’ll be bringing home plenty of ideas and inspiration to share. Thank you!)
I first thought to paint my husband’s medals last ANZAC Day.
They’re part of our lives, but it wasn’t until he did a talk at a local highschool about military colours, including the ribbons on medals, I realised that I really wanted to paint them. I then framed them for his Mum for her birthday!
I then went on to paint my father’s medals as well, and my father-in-law is next on the list. I have also been honoured to paint two more sets for a lovely servicewoman who stumbled across my images on Instagram!
If you are thinking of getting a medal watercolour done, do get in touch! I’d love to do a painting for you. Or perhaps you’re thinking of gifting a friend or relative a medal painting? Either way, you know where to find me!
Each painting includes a $25 donation to Legacy.