Thursday 22 December 2022

let's sketch the Reial Santuari del St. Crist de Balaguer


Late afternoon light on the cathedral in Balaguer, Spain

Painting architecture in pen and watercolours does not have to be difficult. In this lesson we simplify the architecture of the beautiful cathedral in Balaguer, Catalunya and focus on the beautiful light and shadows created by late afternoon sun.

Full step-by-step tutorial with explanations on Patreon today. Join us there.

Thursday 8 December 2022

a deer in the snow


pen and watercolour fallow deer

Let's have some winter fun with a deer looking out through some falling snow. This is a quick and easy painting - a perfect introduction to painting an animal, if you've never done one before.  

If you are still painting Christmas cards, then this one could be perfect.

Full video tutorial, reference photo and drawing to trace on Patreon. SIgn up for my Patreon here.

Thursday 1 December 2022

rustic barn in an autumny Pineta Valley


Autumn in the Pineta Valley, Spanish Pyrenees. Pen & watercolour

We're back to the beautiful Pineta Valley in the Spanish Pyrenees for this autumn scene. A big stone barn nestled in a row of autumn trees, with the mountains and forest in the distance. In front are some trees that have already lost their leaves. Completing the scene are the long autumn shadows leading your eye from outside the painting right up to the barn.

Over the last few months we've been learning lots of skills for painting trees and autumn colour on Patreon. In this lesson we put many of those skills into practise.

Monday 21 November 2022

15 minute christmas cards

Quick watercolour Christmas cards

 Christmas is coming! Did I just say that?! I thought it would be fun to paint some super quick Christmas cards. Each one you do will be a little different and there's lots of fun to be had with experimenting with different colours and inks. This way you can create a whole heap of cards and give everyone you love a little original painting for Christmas.

Full lesson and materials list on Patreon.

Friday 11 November 2022

distant trees and forests in pen and watercolour


painting distant trees and forests in pen and watercolour

In this new skills lesson on Patreon we paint a distant conifer forest and a distant orchard. Then we put those skills together in a little autumn scene.

This lesson is a compliment to the "Mixing greens & painting summer trees" lesson we did a few months ago. You don't have to do the previous lesson before this one - they can be done in any order.

Wednesday 2 November 2022

autumn in the spanish pyrenees


Autumn in the Pineta Valley, Spanish Pyrenees

Join me sketching outside in the beautiful Pineta Valley. I spotted this huge autumn tree dwarfing a lovely little barn right outside the national park of Ordesa y Monte Perdido. I knew immediately I'd love to share it with you.

Friday 21 October 2022

let's sketch a seagull


Paint a seagull in pen and watercolour

On Patreon we've had a whole month of watercolour lessons focusing on the sea. Today we add to the fun by painting a seagull.

There's a full video lesson in real time, the reference photo, drawing to trace and materials list on Patreon. Sign up here.

Tuesday 11 October 2022

a lighthouse with a stormy sea and sky


Lighthouse in pen and watercolour

Somehow lighthouses, stormy skies and crashing waves are meant to go together. Especially in watercolour :-)

This lesson is part of the month of sea inspired paintings we are currently doing on Patreon. You can find the full video tutorial here.

Sunday 2 October 2022

watercolour seascape in asturias, spain


Seascape sketch in pen and watercolour

In this lesson we paint my favourite beach on the north coast of Spain. There's a small island, rocks, crashing waves and little waves lapping the beach. A bit of everything you'd find at a beach :-)

I've sketched this in my sketchbook in just the same way as if I had been sitting on the beach and painting on location.

This lesson is part of our month long sea inspired tutorials on Patreon. Find the full video lesson here.

Wednesday 21 September 2022

painting waves


how to paint waves in watercolors

Last month when I asked my patrons for feedback, I had an overwhelming request for seascapes :-)

And sooooo ... next months lessons are going to all be about the sea! To start you off is this skills lesson on how I paint waves - big crashing waves and little ripples onto the beach.

There's so much to learn when painting seascapes - wet-on-wet techniques, charging in with colours, hard and soft edges, how to reserve whites, how to give the feeling of movement and capture light and drama. I'm looking forward to these lessons already.

Saturday 17 September 2022

sketching a lavender field in france


A happy me sketching lavender in France in July 2022

In July Harrison at Perigord Retreats filmed me painting their beautiful lavender field. So much fun to be painting outside in lovely morning light and have someone else be thinking about all the technical stuff. I'm even in front of the camera for once - rather unusual for me ;-)

This full lesson is available for free on YouTube (so feel free to share!).

Monday 5 September 2022

painting holiday in france - may 2023


I'm going back to France in May 2023

In May 2023 I'm planning to go back to wonderful Perigord Retreats to guide another small group on a painting holiday in France. Based on the last trip I guided there, I can honestly say this will be an experience of a lifetime!

We will have 9 days for a beautiful blend of studio time, delightful excursions, cultural experiences and of course, plenty of free time to rest and explore! We will travel into the lovely countryside to paint and visit some of the most scenic towns in Southern France. We will spend time painting and picnicking along the Dordogne River and throughout the valley.

Update January 2023 : We only have one room left.

Thursday 21 July 2022

painting holiday at perigord retreat


Look at those smiles! Day 1 at Castelnaud-la-Chapelle with our finished sketches

Can't believe this just happened! 9 amazing days in beautiful Dordogne and being thoroughly spoilt at Perigord Retreats. I had the happiest, funnest group of people and we explored beautiful villages, painted plein air and in the studio and ate wonderful meals together. So much laughter and such fantastic creative energy. This is what dream painting holidays are about. Pinch me! I feel like I'm dreaming.

A few collages below to give you an idea of what we got up to. Painting on location and in the studio. There was also plenty of time to just be a tourist in some of the lovely villages. Each day was very full, in the bus at 8.30am and back at the retreat around 4pm for some studio time, before meeting for drinks and then dinner around 6.30pm. After dinner it was time to relax and some of us enjoyed a hot spa with a view of the stars.

Talking of dinner - I could write a whole post about the food. Each meal so lovingly crafted from locally sourced organic produce. Shared meals on the terrace each evening gave a lovely family feel to our group, and often we had a picnic lunch next the river when we were out and about. The last night we had a banquet. I'm not kidding! Next to the indoor pool we enjoyed 8 (or was it 9?) courses accompanied wonderful wines. An incredible way to end an incredible trip.

I can't wait to do it all again! So I'll be back in May 2023. Why not join me? More details here.

Sketching in La Roque Gageac, France

Painting in the studio and in the gardens at Perigord Retreat

Some sketches and paintings

Some more of sketches & paintings

Next year I promise to get better photos of the food

Edit February 2023 - we only have one more room left for the retreat in May 2023. Contact me if you'd like join us. More details here.

Friday 1 July 2022

tutorials on patreon


Watercolour tutorials on Patreon

I'm on Patreon! For a small subscription per month you can join me there. You'll have access to real time videos and other tutorials about how I paint in watercolour and my drawing techniques. Once you've signed up to my account you'll have access to new content each month and to all previous content I have shared.

Each month I share 3 tutorials - a full painting, and 2 other posts where I might paint outside, teach you a skill, answer your questions or do a fun sketch. I explain everything I am doing and, most importantly, why.

Cost : US$10 per month

Are you in? Join my Patreon here.

Watercolour tutorials on Patreon

Thursday 14 April 2022

new app for artists - real sketch


Real Sketch - Android app for artists

We're super excited to announce the launch of our new Android app for artists - Real Sketch.

Real Sketch provides 6 drawing tools for professional artists and students...

1. TRACING (Free)

Use the tracing tool to draw your image onto any surface using the camera lens on your phone. Take photos with your phone or load images from your gallery and overlay them onto any surface. 

AR Tracing is much more versatile than a traditional lightbox. Tracing is not reliant on transparency - trace onto canvas, wood, paper or even your car.

Record a time-lapse video of your drawing to share on social media. It will look like you're doing some kind of magic!


Use a painter's color wheel to mix Primary, Secondary and Tertiary colors to see the resulting mixed color along with its Tint, Tone and Shade.


Draw a scene with perfect linear perspective quickly and easily.
Measure angles or slopes and transfer them onto your paper using the side of your phone as a ruler.
Zoom in to view tiny details.
Learn to draw accurate linear perspective in practise.

4. COLOR HARMONIES (Paid version)

Pick a color from a photo or image to see it's Complimentary Color, as well as Split Complimentaries, Triads, and Analogous Colors. This can help you build your color palette. Colors are based on Itten's Color Wheel.

5. TONAL VALUES (Paid version)

View your scene in grayscale to help you get the correct tonal values without the need for trial and error.
Compare the tonal values of your artwork side-by side with those of the scene.

6. SLOPE GAUGE (Paid version)

Double check your drawing as you progress by checking the location of your eye-level line and any of the angles in a scene.

The app can be calibrated so that you can work flat or on an easel. Whatever is your preference.

Real Sketch - Android app for artists


☆ Non-digital artists
☆ Urban sketchers
☆ Plein air painters
☆ Portrait painters
☆ New artists learning to draw

Both the unpaid (Lite) and paid versions of Real Sketch are free of advertising.

You can upgrade to the full version within the app for a small cost, and this will enable the Color Harmonies, Tonal Values and Slope Gauge tools.

☆ Developed by artists for artists 🥰

Thursday 7 April 2022

autumn sneaks up on us

Glendhu Bay from Rocky Hill, Lake Wanaka

It seems like we've just had the best summer anyone can remember in years and years! Hot, sunny and the best thing for me - almost no wind :-)

And now the beautiful weather continues and the trees are changing colour and it's hard to believe that autumn is settling in. It's still warm enough to swim in the lake most days, but the days are getting shorter and there's a definite nip in the air in the mornings. Plein air outings are now being planned a tad later in the day.

I'm definitely a spring person. Autumn can bring an anxiousness about winter approaching. But with the beautiful colours I always forgive it for the message it's carrying. Besides, you know I can't complain, because autumn means thinking about our exodus to the northern hemisphere really, really soon, where spring awaits!

It's rosehip season. Looking up Stevenson's Arm, Lake Wanaka

Autumn poplars along the Clutha River, Albert Town

The one lane bridge, Albert Town

Autumn, Penrith Beach, Lake Wanaka

Wednesday 30 March 2022

we painted pretty old barns & ruins


Old barn and old windows - my demo paintings from my recent online course

What a wonderful 3 weeks painting my favourite subject and sharing it with 16 hardworking folks from around the globe.

Week one we covered storytelling in our paintings and then we painted the mid-distance view of this beautiful old barn in a field of white and yellow flowers. That's my demo painting above, and here's some of my students paintings below. Amazing hey?!

Old barns - student paintings

Old barns - student paintings

Week two we covered how to paint interesting shadows and then the techniques for paintings bricks and stonework, painting the two little windows you see in the top photograph.

Then week three was compositional theory! Well, a tiny introduction to that. Ending with this glorious sunset scene...

Old ruined house with beautiful sunset. Watercolour demo painting by Renee Walden.

Ruined - student paintings

Look at those wonderful student paintings! A whole lot of wonderful colours from all parts of the watercolour palette and not a single indication of mud at all :-)

What's next?
Right now I'm packing to head to Spain and then onto France. I'll continue to teach online from some wonderful locations and I hope you can join me. As usual you will find out first if you join my mailing list. Then at the end of June I'll be guiding a 10-day plein air painting retreat in the south of France. Only 3 spots left for that - more details here.

Next post from Spain!

Tuesday 1 March 2022

upcoming online course - barns, huts, cottages, ruins


Online watercolour painting course with Renee Walden

My favourite subject - rustic, old buildings in rural settings. I'm always imagining the stories they could tell, if only they could speak. They're filled with character, and are so much fun to paint.

Join me in this live, online mini-course where we will paint them in pen and watercolour.

There will be 3 lessons, each 3 hours long. We will cover...

- Painting textures ... stonework, wood, rusty tin, and bricks.
- Setting the scene with trees, fields and flower-filled meadows.
- Painting interesting shadows that compliment your building. These can turn an average painting into something great.
- How to draw buildings accurately.
- A bit of compositional theory and how to tell a story with your painting

Class dates …
Sundays, 13, 20 and 27 March, 9am New Zealand Time.

UPDATE : Course is full :-)

Monday 28 February 2022

it's always better together - out and about in february


Mount Gold and the Clutha River from Albert Town

I'm lucky enough to belong to 4 different painting groups now, so there's always someone to paint with. It seems to me that as an artist I have a tendency to be rather a loner. My head is full of ideas and projects I want to tackle and I've got lots of places I want to visit to sketch or paintings I want to do in my studio. If I wasn't careful, I'd be seeing nobody at all except my husband and dog!

But creating with others is wonderfully special and always so inspiring. There's nothing like everyone painting the same scene with completely different approaches to spark something new and exciting in my brain. And time spent talking art, art supplies, art business, art, art, art is always so refreshing - hanging out with folks who know exactly what makes your heart go pitter-patter.

So, not a week goes by without me meeting with others for a sketching session and I'm incredibly grateful to my painting buddies for being there and supporting each other.

Here's some images from out and about this month. Some with my painting buddies, some with just David and Zulu. Every single image holds memories of the place, but even more of the people who were with me.

Old baches, Taieri Mouth

Historic Mitchell's Cottage, Fruitlands

Hawea Playgroup - the old Hawea Flat Post Office

Alpine Tarn, Upper Wye Creek

Friday 25 February 2022

art retreat france , june 2022 - change of date


10 day painting holiday in Southern France with New Zealand artist, Renee Walden

We've had a change of date for this year's French painting retreat. We're now going from 28 June to 7 July - summertime :-)

There are only 3 spots left!

For more information please visit this page and get in touch with any questions you might have.

Wednesday 9 February 2022

it never rains but it pours

The old jetty on Lake Wanaka high and dry with the lake really low. Late Jan 2022.

One of the fun things about sketching outdoors in sketchbooks is documenting the same place again and again. Sometimes I can go back to older sketchbooks to see the same scene in a different season or from a different angle or with different people or animals in the spot. But these two sketches of the old Lake Wanaka jetty didn't need a big timespan between them. They're only a week apart!

Above, the jetty high and dry after a couple of months of no rain and the lake incredibly low. Then, below, a week later after a couple of days of wonderful rain and the lake had risen 1.5m :-)

One week later and the lake 1.5m higher. February 2022.

Friday 4 February 2022

2 years between sketches - it makes a difference


Stewart Cottage painted in 2020 and 2022

Visiting the Bannockburn Sluicings is such a treat. Especially a visit up to old Stewart Town, because you know how much I love old stone buildings.

I was up there recently with a couple of sketching buddies and I was there almost exactly 2 years ago with another local artist. When I got home this year I pulled out the 2 year old sketchbook to have a look at the difference. It's one of my favourite things about sketchbooks, being able to track your progress as a painter and to relive the memories of previous outings.

It's interesting to me how much more relaxed and free my sketches seem to be now. For me it's especially noticeable in the sketch of the Bannockburn Sluicings below. I don't think you'd describe my watercolour paintings as loose (I have abstract acrylics for that!), but I can certainly see a growing confidence in my approach when I look back at the same scenes from 2 years ago. Plus, it's really obvious to me how much difference the 100% cotton paper in my new sketchbooks makes.

I highly recommend sketchbooks for this type of reflection on past work. You may think you'll keep the old paintings in a drawer somewhere, but in my experience I'll often tip those into the recycling in a fit of studio cleaning. Not my sketchbooks though, I'll always have those to go back to.

PS - someone online asked about the trees in the 2020 sketch above. They're 100 year old pear and greengage trees, and don't worry! They're still there. I just left them out this year in a flurry of artistic license, giving the Vipers Bugloss place to grow and the cottage room to breathe. 

Bannockburn Sluicings - 2020 and 2022

Monday 31 January 2022

summer in central otago - out and about in january


Vipers Bugloss and Californian Poppies, Gladstone Gap, Lake Hawea

We've had a lovely start to the year with absolutely gorgeous weather - sunny days and no wind. Perfect for local outings with my sketchbook and sketching buddies. Here's a few snaps from January.

All of these sketches are done in The Perfect Sketchbook from Etchr Lab. They're pen and watercolour. Pen is a Lamy Safari with either DeAtrementis Document Ink or Rohrer & Klinger Sketch Ink. Waterclour is Daniel Smith. Brushes are Escoda Perla and Versatil.

View towards Mt Gold from Waimana Beach on Lake Wanaka on a hot, muggy day.

Little boats on the shores of Lake Wanaka, just waiting to go out and play.

Historic Bannockburn Sluicings - totally man-made, but stunning anyway.

Historic Stewart's Cottage, Bannockburn

Mount Brewster, Aspiring National Park

As always, you can follow me on Instagram if you want to see more of my sketchbook outings.

Monday 24 January 2022

upcoming online course - perspective in practise


Perspective in practise - online painting course with Renee Walden

Every good watercolour painting of an urban scene starts with a good drawing. In most art books you'll find a whole section explaining the theory of linear perspective, but these 'rules' can be confusing or sometimes even downright impractical in practice.

Join me in this 3 lesson online mini-course where I'll explain the theory and then give you guidelines of how to put the theory into practice. We'll work from photographs, but I'll also explain how you can approach a scene when painting on location.

There will be 3 lessons, each 3 hours long. In each lesson we will...

- Start with some theory. I'll provide you with notes you can printout and keep.
- Then we'll draw a scene together putting the theory into practise.
- Finally we'll paint our scene in pen and watercolour.
- After the lesson you can send me your finished painting for feedback and ask any questions you might have thought of post lesson.

Class dates …
Sundays, 30 January, 6 Februay and 13 February, 9am New Zealand Time.

UPDATE : Course is full :-)