Day two – VIRTUAL painting at River Usk Wales.

After a good nights sleep and a superb breakfast we are now ready to walk to the River Usk and spend the morning making quick sketches.

Remember to always carry a small sketch book so that you can take quick notes…

Quick sketches get our creative juices flowing….For those who have taken my courses you will know that I consider ‘warming up’ to be a very important part of the painting process.     These little sketches/notes open our eyes and hearts to the world around us. 

Tombow pen and watercolour wash – a gang of lambs…..20200706_114215Remember to keep things simple.    A small palette of watercolours, a couple of. brushes,  a Tombow pen, two or more containers for water.  (the river will provide all the water we need) and something to drink.

We will paint until one o’clock ish and then enjoy a pub lunch at the Bridge End Inn on this side of the river.     Photo-24-05-2017-13-05-56-e1501602224492The following pictures were taken on the Glen Usk Estate (about one mile from Crickhowell) where I was giving a workshop some years ago.   I have used one of the pics as a ‘jumping off point’ for a demo.

Children were frolicking in the river….it was quite lovely…and of course they were fascinated by the group painting. 20200706_111926One of my demonstrations that day was to express the joy and movement of the children.     This sketch was very fast (a few minutes) – trying to capture the essence of the moment.


In an ideal world it is best to do several spontaneous sketches….this helps us to understand what it is we are looking at and get beyond the obvious. 20200706_111847

It’s a good idea to take photographs, but only to use them as ‘jumping off points‘ not to copy them …….

People come to me to loosen up and bring spontaneity to their work.      To help achieve this I often suggest doing some physical exercises before painting.   It’s surprising how much it helps. 

This is the picture I am using for my ‘jumping off point‘ demo today.   I liked it because it emphasised the strong darks and lights – with very little detail. 20200706_111906

Mixing Prussian Blue and Burnt Sienna for my darks (I don’t use black when working in watercolour) I throw on some juicy colour in all the shadow areas – leaving  DRY WHITE PAPER for my highlights.  

I indicate the dark shadows on the rocks using the same Prussian blue/burnt Sienna mix.

I then add some Winsor & Newton Green Gold plus Daniel Smith Undersea Green….into some of the dry white areas. allowing the paint to bleed and do its own magic.    (when using a transparent pigment like W & N Green Gold…a little paint goes a long way.)

One of the many things I love about watercolour is that it teaches us to ‘let go and get out of the driver’s seat’….When we do this magic happens. 

20200706_115807Here I have added some burnt Sienna around the rocks.   Any time I add a colour, I apply it to other areas of the picture to achieve a sense of  balance and harmony. 20200706_124059With a clean wet brush I blend some of the areas together.

I suggest that you put in your own figures – maybe others in the group who are posing on rocks in the middle of the river.?20200706_131311Like this sketch of Claudia Notalle – a dear friend from France who visited me shortly after I moved to Crickhowell.    The river was running very low that day and so I was able to catch her lying on a rock in the middle of the river, reading a book.

Rapid watercolour sketch. 20200706_113237Everywhere we walk we are surrounded with the magnificent landscape of the Black Mountains and Brecon Beacons which is why it’s so important to carry a little sketch book and pen to take notes .     The light and colours can change so rapidly,

There is much drama in the landscape here……Be spontaneous and use your imagination a well as recording what you see.     44935594_10156759117095396_1169890757184585728_o-3Wild Welsh hill ponies. – Tombow pen on a qouache ground with watercolour wash. 20200702_103056

After a day at the river and lunch in the pub and more sketching I am sure we are ready for tea and cake at the Courtroom Cafe located close to the war memorial.

It is run by a group of local farmer’s wives and all the food is home cooked.    They used to be in the Cheesepress..which is now Bookish – another place I will take you to later in the week.

When I used to have people for a meal these wonderful women would cook the food for me and put it in my dishes so it looked as if I had done the work!     I always ended up telling the truth:).   I visited them when I was in Crikchowell a year or so ago and was so pleased that they all remembered me……


Dinner at The Dragon this evening….and then everyone can walk home to their respective accommodations and collapse – or take a taxi if necessary……

Tomorrow morning we meet at the Dragon and then, along with other delights,  we will walk the beautiful Monmouthshire Brecon Canal...something I did every day when I lived there.

ps…..For those who like a good gin and tonic….make sure to ask for BRECON’s excellent.

Lechyd da……










28 thoughts on “Day two – VIRTUAL painting at River Usk Wales.

  1. timitownsend51

    Lovely dress you have on, and such serenity glows from your face. ❤ And a wonderful day painting, as well. I'm reading The Old Devils by Kingsley Amis. It is set in Wales, so it's nice to see some of it virtually through your posts and paintings! 🙂

    1. janetweightreed10 Post author

      I really enjoy Kingsley Amis….:).
      The dress is special because it was made by a young designer in Olhao Portugal where I teach. One of the fellow tutors and good friend bought if for me and then my daughter took this photograph when she was with in January….Thank you so much for the. compliment. I am usually to be found in jeans and an old shirt:)x

  2. Judith

    Good morning! I’m really enjoying the trip. My first sketches/paintings aren’t much to look at, but now I’m getting more adventurous, playing more with colors, and simply having fun. For me it’s mostly about capturing feelings more than images. Later I want to sit down and spend a little time sketching the sheep and the ponies. Thank you so much for this wonderful virtual excursion!

  3. Laura Kate

    Questions: For the warm-up exercise, do you start the picture with the pen or the wash?
    For the wild pony picture, do you use a clear water wash on the paper first, or apply your initial washes to dry paper?
    Thank you, Janet.

    1. janetweightreed10 Post author

      Hi Laura, Usually I begin with the pen and then throw some wash on…however sometimes I will sketch over an existing wash. The Tombow pens are water soluble and so a wet brush can pull out the colour which can be very effective.

      For the pony picture. I apply a ground (a mix of watercolour/gouache) whatever is left on my palette…and let it dry for a minimum of 24 hours. It’s a good idea to do several pieces of paper at once. When the ground is completely dry I then use the Tomboy pen to sketch out and after apply washes in the dark areas.
      I hope that helps….thank you for reading and please feel free to ask any more questions. Janet

  4. Ka Malana -

    Feels so good to get my brushes filled with paint again. A mental warm up for me, is reading here. I loved how the river supplied all the water we need. The smells and the children’s laughter, the spectacular vibrant colors…eating at the Dragon and having a tasty gin and tonic. This is the way to live! I’m going to look into a Tomboy 🖊 pen. I learned about gouache from you. I did a commissioned piece of watercolor for a hospital president once. Remembering my few forays with art. Working with watercolor I always wanted even more vibrancy… so I will look into gouache.

  5. Tish Farrell

    I love your tutorials and all without pen or paint brush. And that is one fab dress, Janet. Also thinking a Brecon gin would be very welcome on a wet and gloomy Shropshire evening.

    1. janetweightreed10 Post author

      Thank you very much Tish. The dress is made by a young designer in Portugal close to the school where I teach and my daughter took the photo when she was here in January…and so it is special:) I must say these virtual trips are fun and the Brecon gin would cheer up any gloomy evening …..

      1. gaiainaction

        It is the same here Janet, it is mostly due to the weather being what it is, rain and wind and chilly, so most of women always wear jeans and fleeces 🙂 dresses are not seen much. I have just two.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.