Friday 26 January 2024

old door


Sketch of an old door behind my house

Who doesn't love watercolour paintings of old doors and windows? They have a charm all their own. And, certainly, a whole series of them hanging together would be really lovely.

In this lesson we use the skills we learnt in the skills lesson on painting stonework and old wood to paint the old door of the barn behind my house. Plus the shadow is super - I paint it in a similar way to the shadows lesson where we painted the flowerpot.

No need to do the skills lessons first, you can just dive in with this one. But if you'd like to learn more, then the skills lessons are there for you too.

Happy painting!

Full video tutorial on Patreon and Renee's Studio.

Thursday 18 January 2024

negative painting in practise


using negative painting techniques in practise

Hi everyone,

After last week's lesson where we painted the abstract goldfish using the negative painting technique, I thought it might be a good idea to follow up with a quick post showing other ways to use this technique.

Negative painting is not just for abstracts. It can be used for ...

  • creating highlights or shapes against a dark background
  • creating a lovely sense of depth
  • painting white objects, where you reserve the white paper
  • painting loose colourful washes or first layers with freedom, knowing you can come on top and cut in to create a shape.

So here are a few examples showing negative painting in practise...

  1. Little ermita : shaping the grasses by painting the dark bushes behind. This is a technique I'm sure you've seen in a number of my tutorials.
  2. Snowy cabin : creating the white roof by painting the mountain behind. You can see how the dark mountain really brings the cabin forward.
  3. White flowers : painting the background carefully around the flowers brings out their shape. This way you don't need to use masking fluid.
  4. Little robin : painting the background around the outside of the bird to create the shape of the fluffy white feathers. Again, no masking fluid.
  5. Mother earth goddess : negative painting is not only for watercolours. For this mixed media piece I first covered the canvas in collage and painted patterns. Then you can see on the world how I painted just the sea, to reveal the shapes of the continents.
  6. Feathers : similar to the earth goddess and the goldfish we did last week. I first painted the canvas in an abstract way, then painted the background on top to reveal the feathers. Working this way, rather than painting the feathers on top of a background, creates a lot of depth and texture. Even in acrylics you can see the background coming through. Plus, like the goldfish we did, it a wonderfully free way to paint, starting loose and tightening up later.

I hope this gives you some ideas of how you can use negative painting. Next time when you're planning the steps for a painting, think about where this technique could be useful.

Happy painting!


Are you surprised to see mixed media paintings from me? Haha! Maybe you are. 

I've been painting for all my life and it hasn't always been just watercolours. I've always painted in watercolours, but it's only in the last 5 years that it's been only watercolours. In previous years I'd paint watercolours only outside and when traveling, then large mixed media pieces in the studio. Five years ago I wondered what would happen if I painted only watercolours and larger studio watercolour pieces too. Of course, you can guess what happened - my watercolour skills improved hugely and so did my joy in the medium. Will I go back to mixed media pieces in the future? Probably. I do sometimes miss painting big and bold. But right now I'm still not finished with this watercolour journey :-)

Friday 12 January 2024

abstract goldfish by negative painting


watercolour goldfish using negative painting

Near my house there's an historic lavadero - an very old laundry area and a natural spring. The big, old wash tub is now a beautiful pond under some huge plane trees. Someone put some goldfish in the pond a few years ago and they've multiplied and grown. I love to go sit and watch them. Its calming and meditative.

When I thought about painting the fish, I had a number of ideas. One thing I really wanted recreate while painting was the peace and meditation they make me feel. Painting abstracts can feel like this, so does painting vibrant colours and wet-in-wet washes.

In this lesson we explore the concept of negative painting. This is when we don't paint the objects themselves (the positive shapes), but the shapes behind them (negative shapes). Painting the background shape reveals the object.

Painting in this was is very absorbing. It's almost like a building a puzzle. And it creates paintings with a lovely sense of depth.

Happy painting!

Find the full step by step tutorial on Patreon and Renee's Studio :

Wednesday 10 January 2024

snowy landscapes online mini-course


Paint snowy landscapes in pen and watercolour

Grab a hot drink, your paper, paints and brushes, and join me in painting some winter snow scenes.

Class dates …
Saturday 27 January and Saturday 03 February 2024, 6pm CET (Madrid).

Equivalent world times (please check I'm correct!)
London: 5pm
Los Angeles: 9am
Edmonton: 10am
New York: 12pm
Sydney: 4am (Sundays)
Auckland: 6am (Sundays)

Small class only. Booking information here.

Monday 8 January 2024

snowy landscape in watercolour


Little red barn in the snow. Pen and watercolour.

There was something so evocative in this reference photo when I first saw it years ago. Something that said freezing cold, winter's day. But it was really the clarity of the colours that caught my imagination - so clear and vibrant.

It feels to me that watercolours are perfect for painting a scene like this. With minimal detail, big loose washes and a gentle touch, watercolours have a clarity all their own.

So in this lesson we focus on how to achieve beautiful washes. This scene may seem really simple, but when you've managed to make clear, unfussy washes, then you've really mastered one of the essential watercolour skills. We're going to leave detail behind and I'm going to show you how to concentrate on the painting process itself.

Happy painting!

Thanks to Jill Wellington on Pixabay for the reference photo.

Full video tutorial on Patreon and Renee's Studio.