Sunday, 27 September 2020

let's talk about : watercolour brushes

My current favourite watercolour brushes


I've been getting a lot of questions about my brushes lately, so I thought it was time to give you a list.

From left to right -

  • Large 1.5" flat. 
    Daler-Rowney, Skyflow
    Mostly for pre-wetting skies with clean water, and sometimes for painting large skies too. Only for studio use.
  • Smaller 1" flat
    Unfortunately name has worn off.
    Fantastic for painting around things where you want a hard edge. For example where a building juts into a sky. Flat brushes offer so much more control where you want a sharp line, than a round brush can.
  • Largish round brush
    Kaerell Raphael, No2
    This brush holds a lot of water, so it's wonderful for wet in wet washes. I use it mainly when I'm painting a large area (eg sky or fields) and I need to work fast, but not super accurately (as it's point is not overly sharp). Only for studio use.
  • Largish round brush
    Escoda Versatil No12, travel version
    If I could only have one brush, this would be it. I can paint almost a whole medium to small painting with it. It holds a lot of water, has excellent spring and makes a very sharp point. So it's both good for big, wet washes, and for tiny detailed work. This brush goes everywhere with me.
  • Small round brush
    Escoda Perla No8, travel version
    A lovely compliment to the Versatil, for when I want a little more accuracy or finer lines. It doens't hold as much water as the Versatil, but it has great snap and a very sharp point, making it easier to control. This brush also goes everywhere with me.
  • Small round brush
    Escoda Perla No4, travel version
    I would have preferred a No2, to complete the set of travel brushes that go everywhere with me, but none were available in New Zealand. Since I'm not really a fussy detail person, this size still works fine for me for small details like grasses, branches, leaf veins etc.
  • Super tiny brush
    Escoda Perla No0
    Who am I kidding? I don't usually have the patience for detail that requires a brush of this size. Haha! But, sometimes, you know, a teeny-tiny brush is just the ticket. And then you want one that is tough and snappy.
  • Small cat-tounge brush
    Van Gogh No8
    A cheaper, stiffer flat brush is great for scrubbing and lifting out colour. I wouldn't do this with one of my better brushes, as it can ruin them. So this brush works a treat.
  • Fine rigger brush
    Not shown
    For branches, rigging, grasses I do use a rigger brush. For studio use only, because it's just too delicate to carry anywhere.

  • The three travel brushes fold up and I pop them in my pencil case to take everywhere with me. They go travelling, hiking and then back to the studio. They're my workhorses and I love them. I did spend a lot of time researching the brushes that I felt would work for me and I really think I've found them. Although if Escoda made a larger Versatil travel brush, I'd be in!
  • I don't have a lot of brushes, because learning a new brush takes quite some time. It becomes an extension of your hand and learning a new snap or "flop" can take a while to accomplish. Each brush also holds a different amount of water, so knowing what's on your brush takes a while to become second nature. So my advice is to do some research, buy the best you can afford, then practise, practise, practise before adding a new tool to the bag. There! I hope I just saved you a fortune :-)
  • All the brushes are synthetic and work as well as natural fibre. I can't see the point of animal cruelty for the making of artist brushes, when synthetic works just the same (and will probably last much, much longer).

Where I bought my brushes...

  • The Escoda brushes I bought in New Zealand from Takapuna Art Supplies, or directly from Escoda when I was in Spain.
  • The Raphael I bought at Dalbe in France. Wish I'd bought a bigger one as well when I could!

Happy painting! Any questions, please give me a shout.

Thursday, 24 September 2020

new in my sketchbooks

Shark's Tooth Peak

It's been winter (of course!), so not as much outside sketching as I would like. The adventures have still been happening, but the sketchbook has often just stayed in my pack. Seems I'm not as tough as I thought I was ;-) But, hey, that picture above of Shark's Tooth Peak was done in minus temps and was the first time I saw a wash freeze. Haha!

Here are a few sketches in my sketchbooks from the last few weeks. Some of these done on location, some sketched later, working from photos I took while out and about.

West Wanaka - no, it's not autumn. It seems the willows turn orange before getting spring leaves.

Meg Hut, Pisa Range

Miner's Hut, Pisa Range.

Close to home. My favourite bend in the Hawea River.

Overnight hike to Smoothwater Bay.

Zulu swimming the Smoothwater River.

Tuesday, 22 September 2020

flower painting workshop

What a fantastic day - painting flowers in pen and watercolour with 8 lovely folks :-)

In the morning we painted two small paintings (a Californian poppy and a coneflower). I showed students how I approach drawing flowers in ink - how to form the shapes, how to capture the essence of a flower and composition (especially when more than one painting will hang together when complete). The morning was about capturing the flowers quickly, much like I would if I was painting them outside in a garden or while out walking.

In the afternoon we painted a larger, more studied painting - a lovely pink lily. Here we worked with lots of light layers on top of a pen drawing, concentrating on soft edges and getting the form and colour just right.

At the end of the day students went home with 3 beautiful completed paintings! And a whole lot of skills so which they can use to capture the flowers as they emerge this spring.

Next flower painting class will probably be later in the year, or early next year. Sign up to my mailing list if you'd like to be in the know.

Thursday, 10 September 2020

new watercolour painting tutorial

Excited to announce I have a new full length video tutorial. In this one we paint this ruined miner's hut which is in the historic, gold mining settlement of Welshtown near my home. I visited this sketcher's paradise late last year and I had such fun repainting this scene in my studio so that you can follow along.

In this lesson (40min) we paint...

  • a hot summer sky
  • distant snowy mountains
  • trees and fields
  • stone hut
You'll learn wet in wet techniques, how to charge in with colours to make washes interesting, how to paint stonework and I show you a trick with how to easily add branches to your trees.