Watercolour demo – using the Cala Lily

“Human subtlety will never devise an invention more beautiful, more simple or more direct than does nature because in her inventions nothing is lacking, and nothing is superfluous.”     Leonardo da Vinci. 

20-11-15 - 1 (478)

On the 18th September I will be giving my first live workshop since lock down at THE INSPIRED HUB in Hampton http://www.theinspiredhub.co.uk       

I first mentioned the inspired hub two months ago on this blog in a post entitled ‘CREATIVE THINKING, PERSONAL WELLBEING AND COMMUNITY.’         The HUB is proving to be a wonderful addition to the Hampton (SW London)  community.

Using watercolour, and beginning with playful exercises the workshop will focus on spontaneous painting and loosening up.

Watercolour is a beautiful medium.        There are a few basic techniques to learn – each one taking time and patience to master.      Allowing ourselves to play with the medium will help build confidence and ability.

In this instance I have sketched out two cala lilies – using yellow ochre.    I am working on a Saunders and Waterford Hot Pressed – heavy paper.  (more about papers at end of blog)

20-11-15 - 1 (607)Having sketched the basic image I add ‘juicy tube paint’ into the negative space (the area surrounding the lilies).    I am using a mix of Daniel Smith Perylene Maroon with Winsor & Newton Winsor Violet and a little Winsor & Newton Cadmium Orange. 

When we add paint to the negative space – we automatically reveal the subject…..20-11-15 - 1 (787)Using very small amounts of pigment I begin to add colour to the lily.    For this I use Winsor & Newton Green Gold and a touch of Windsor & Newton Cadmium yellow. For the dark green in stem and shadow I mix some Winsor & Newton Burnt Sienna with a tiny amount of prussian blue and Gold Green. 

All the whites are dry white paper. 

20-11-15 - 1 (799)I begin to build depth inside the lily using small amounts of pigment – making sure to leave dry white paper for highlights. 20-11-15 - 1 (805)As I build up the colour I am mindful of bringing the background colours into the Lilies.    Everything is connected….nothing is isolated.     By moving colour around a painting we bring a sense of harmony and rhythm.

It is important to note, that when we change one fraction of a painting – (no matter what the size) we change the whole.     This is true for everything in life. 20-11-15 - 1 (806)The finished watercolour is an observational exercise revealing the subtlety of nature….. and at the same time honing watercolour technique.       I hope that there is an element of energy and movement.  20-11-15 - 1 (478)The most important thing is to PLAY  and warm up.    This can be done on any paper including newspaper…..The key is to release any fears or anxiety about messing up a good piece of paper.  Ultimately this is a freeing up mechanism.

When purchasing watercolour paper – it is measured by weight and surface quality….Cold Pressed for rougher surface.  NOT (meaning not hot pressed) is smoother and Hot Pressed is very smooth.    My analogy is that using cold pressed is like roller skating and hot pressed like ice skating – NOT is somewhere in the middle.

When we purchase a piece of lb140 weight paper – this simply means that the ream of paper (500 sheets) weighs lb140 – and of course the same applies for all weights.    It’s a good idea to purchase a sample pack of papers.…and again PLAY.

27 thoughts on “Watercolour demo – using the Cala Lily

    1. janetweightreed10 Post author

      Hi my dear Teagan….thank you so much for this lovely comment and forgive me for not visiting your blog recently. I seem to be catching up with much but can assure you that I am reading and loving every bit of it:). and thinking of you in your new home…which I would love to know more about. For now I send you lots of magical hummingbirds. Janet :)XXX

  1. Emma Cownie

    Stunning work. Thank you for the explanation about paper, I have always find water colour paper myserious. I really liked the way you left the white along the side of the flower and the stalk for light.

    1. janetweightreed10 Post author

      Thank you Emma – really appreciate this comment. Watercolour paper is a mystery to many people….it is very important to choose the right weight, etc. I always recommend that people purchase a ‘sample pack’ – to play and experiment with. Ken Bromley has a very good one…. Leaving dry white paper is key in many watercolours.

      1. janetweightreed10 Post author

        When I am PLAYING – I sometimes use newspaper, envelopes anything….and then I go to the good stuff – usually for me lb200 NOT Saunders and Waterford…sometimes lb300.

  2. Margaret Parker Brown

    Beautifully painted and I enjoyed reading your process. I was wondering if sometime you could discuss how you combine watercolor with your guoache paints. I am getting more and more interested in mixed media.

  3. Jet Eliot

    What a fantastic art lesson here, Janet. I can imagine how engaging and electrifying your classes must be. I like that you paralleled change in the painting to change in life, i.e. a fraction and the whole. I will think about your lesson in relation to novel writing. A complete delight to be here, Janet, as always.


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