Watercolour and Ink


Over the weekend I saw a beautiful watercolour of a bird on Reddit posted by V4nG0ghs34r77.

I thought it was beautifully done and I really liked the way the artist had mixed ink and watercolour to great effect.

Often with “Line and Wash” paintings I find myself quite underwhelmed because they seem so often to look twee and sort of chocolate box’y which just doesn’t work for me.  I can’t stand it.  (This is just a personal taste, not because any particular style of art is better than any other.)  But V4nG0ghs34r77 used the ink in ways which gave it depth and texture and it really worked!

So I’ve been playing around with ink and watercolour this week to see what I can make.

I began with a chameleon…

(The chameleon and branch are watercolour and ink but the background was added digitally.)

And then went on to sketch a bit of an owl…


(This is all watercolour and ink – no digital stuff.)

The owl was definitely my favourite.  When I drew and painted it I was really in a place where I was just playing around, not formally painting anything.  I think this really helped because it was just a rough ink sketch with some watercolour dabbed on wherever I thought.  I didn’t use any reference except for a photo for the eyes.  In terms of colour I went with a paynes grey / ultramarine mix against a cadmium yellow / yellow ochre / burnt umber mix. Because they felt like opposites and gave a nice contrast to each other. 

This is the first time I’ve been able to really loosen up when inking and painting.  I kind of treated the whole thing like a sketch.  I am pleased with the results.


The Shape of Light on Water #5


This week I concentrated on adding watercolour to my pencil drawing of a water splash from last week.

Here’s the drawing I started with…


First I masked my absolute highlights with masking fluid.  Then I used a graded wash of phthalo blue and viridian green but I kept it really light and pulled out some colour with my brush where I wanted the light to come through.  Then I added some slightly darker washes to the shadowed areas…


I then added paynes grey and a touch of ultramarine blue to the greeny blue colour I was already using and began to push the darks darker and add to the darker shades of the pencil.  I did each bit seperately so there was time before each bit dried to pull a gradient out of the dark colours where I wanted it.  This was so much fun to do!

Finally I worked on balancing the tones and pulling the picture together as a whole.  It was mostly there already but a I did push the main sine wave form across the front of the picture a little more.

Here’s the result…



Now when my son saw it this time his comment was “Wow – that’s so looks like water now!!!”  – Result!   😀

The Shape of Light on Water #4

This week I was looking at how water splashes.  I began by looking through about 50 different splash photographs to find what kind of water splash I wanted and to get a feel for the way water bends and focuses light.  Then I used a combination of the best five or six and adapted them into my final original design.

Here’s the start of the drawing.  I made an overall light sketch of the general areas and then completed most of the tones in each section before moving on…



Here’s the final pencil drawing…


I used my graphgear 1000 for most of it and filled in the greyer tones with another 2B mechanical pencil.

Graphgear 1000

As it goes I feel pleased with how it looks although my son couldn’t see it as a splash until I told him what it was so I’m clearly not quite there yet.  I do think it’s an improvement on last week’s effort though.

The more I look at the finished pencils the more it cries out to be painted.  Do I dare mess with it further?

Well yes!!!  If you can’t follow your heart in painting then where can you?!  I know it might be “hit by anti-aircraft guns” again but I’m going to give it a go anyway.


The Shape of Light on Water #3

This week I worked on a more abstract approach to water.  I was looking at ripples and reflections.

Here’s the piece…


I used W&N Watercolours, masking fluid and some white Gouache.

At school we ask the children to evaluate their work with a thing called ‘Two Stars and a Wish’ which means think of two things you are pleased with about your work and one thing you would like to change.  So my two stars are, I like the colours and I like the shapes generally.  My wish is that I wish it looked like water!!!!

Sometimes in my life as an artist I feel a lot like Bill Watterson’s character Calvin from his famous  and brilliant comic strip ‘Calvin and Hobbes’

“Hit by antiaircraft guns.” – Watterson’s a genius.