Spontaneous watercolour/gouache exercise.

spontaneous watercolour/gouache20-11-15-1-710

When we are very young, we have no problem at all in throwing paint around.   In fact, we quickly learn how enjoyable it is to put colour and marks on a surface  – any surface.  🙂

An exercise capturing energy and movement 

20-11-15-1-675By the time we come to the end of our formative years, at around the age of seven, the narrow definition our respective nurturing and culture have imposed upon us has begun to take hold.

We begin to be fearful of ‘making mistakes’ – of not fitting into our particular norm.

I began this exercise by working from a colour ground….you can pick any colour.   Make sure that a ground has had 24 hours or more to dry. 


By the time we reach adulthood, most of us have lost touch with, and confidence in, our inner creative energy.

Remember to move colour all around the image.    Changing one small fraction of an image changes the whole. 


This spontaneous exercise is all about letting go of expectations and allowing ourselves  to be expressive and  PLAY.    Playing on newspaper or inexpensive wallpaper lining helps to alleviate the fear of messing up a good piece of paper…..and is a wonderful way to warm up before a day’s painting.

Because I am working rapidly and parts of the image are very wet, I am painting on a flat surface.   It’s important to allow the wet paint to do its own thing….all sorts of lovely surprises occur. 


Be bold – make marks, enjoy colour and surprise yourself with the satisfaction and joy this brings.      

Regardless of where you wish to take your creativity….this form of exercise will help.

To complete, I scrape out areas with a knife which reveals the underlying colour ground of  cadmium orange. 20-11-15-1-710Remember that the ‘creative process in all its many forms is the key to emotional, physical and spiritual wellbeing’. 

A Bientôt

27 thoughts on “Spontaneous watercolour/gouache exercise.

    1. janetweightreed10 Post author

      Good morning Timi – So pleased you like. I have been thinking about you and hoping that your time off is going well. Enjoy your day and week ahead and may it be filled with joy and creativity….Janet. 🙂

  1. Teagan Geneviene

    Janet, even your warm up, “quick exercises” are gorgeous. I loved these. Watercolors indeed provide constant surprises, when the paint moves on its own. I enjoy the effects. Your narrative here is musical, spiritual. Thanks for a lovely post. My Monday was much improved by it. Hummingbird hugs.

      1. Teagan Geneviene

        Your hummers were certainly there, Janet. Nudging me to phone-in to an early morning meeting across town (for which I had no notice) — and then it was cancelled ten minutes *after* it was to start. What a waste of time that would have been. (Sadly not an unusual thing.) Yes I give the hummingbirds credit. 😉 ❤

  2. Writing to Freedom

    I love these paintings Janet! And your wonderful reminders. I’m much too worried about making mistakes in life and know it has held me back from exploring, playing and discovering new joys and talents. blessings, Brad

    1. janetweightreed10 Post author

      Good morning Brad, So pleased that you enjoyed this post. I think we all experience those moment of fear where we are worried about making mistakes…looking silly, etc., but in the great scheme of things, it’s important to move through that and enjoy the freedom of taking risks and of course Playing…:) Janet

  3. Margaret Parker Brown

    thank you for this post, if only people approach watercolor with a serendipitous attitude, they would realize what a beautiful, wonderful and freeing medium it is! What gorgeous colors you used! To clarify, you did a fairly dark wash of cad. orange onto a piece of paper, let it dry (obviously) then charge, flowed various watercolors over the top of the bottom layer of color? Why I asked is because I wondered how the light blue color covered the orange so well. I love the first image in how it looks like a jelly fish in the depth of the ocean….so gorgeous. Love this exercise, I just might have to try it out.

    1. janetweightreed10 Post author

      Good morning Margaret. I am using watercolour and gouache in this exercise, hence the light blue overlay (I mixed Winsor & Newton Permanent White gouache with the blue watercolour) . The ground is a cadmium orange mixed with naples yellow gouache – which I have allowed to dry for 24 hours. I love using the mix of watercolour and gouache as it produces transparent and opaque areas and when the two bleed together…it’s sometimes pure bliss. 🙂 When used over a colour ground there is an extra dimension.
      Yes what a beautiful and freeing medium watercolour is and when I use gouache in the same manner as watercolour – it is equally as feeing. . I do believe that many people still think of watercolours as pictures that nice Victorian Ladies were required to do! As we know the medium can be very powerful and exciting. Have a lovely day’s painting and thank you very much for your comment…janet.

      1. Margaret Parker Brown

        Thank you for the detail because I have an inquisitive mind and I needed to know how you made this beautiful painting. I forget that you use both trans. and the opaque. Beautiful combination!

      2. janetweightreed10 Post author

        I am happy to explain how I did something any time….I came across the watercolour/gouache combination when I was working in my studio in Wales about 15 years ago. I was experiencing a block…and so I set up long tables large sheets of w/c paper and allowed myself to PLAY. I happened to have gouache in the studio and bing0 – I loved the combination.

      1. OyiaBrown

        You’re most welcome, dear. Your material always brightens up the day and enhances our lives. Have been very busy with moving house. 🙂 xx

      2. janetweightreed10 Post author

        Oh boy, moving house is a big one…I know because I have done it a few time, and it can be so exciting. Enjoy the process and as always thank you for your comments and contributions – you are incredible. Janet. 🙂 xxx

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