A Poppy card

My mum loves poppies. She even grows large ornamental ones in her garden. So for her birthday I made her a card with a poppy on it. I tried to make the background very loose which is not something I am good at.

I didn’t manage to take any process shots of this painting. I think I had to concentrate so hard to get the background to work that it just went out of my mind! Oops!

Once I’d finished the painting I trimmed it neatly with my rotary trimmer and then mounted it on a card. I actually use doublesided carpet tape to mount heavy paper like this. It works really well.

Here’s a picture of the card…

And here is the final painting…

❤️ Happy Birthday Mum!!!! ❤️

Line and Wash – Damsel Fly


I wanted to try using watercolour on an ink drawing.  I decided to use foliage in a particular shape with a small animal, like a butterfly as the main focus.

First I worked out what sort of shape I wanted…


I tried several ideas for the main shape of my picture.

In the end I went for a spiral but I wanted the shape to form the structure of the picture but not be something that the viewer notices right away so I drew on some very light guidelines.

Then I began drawing.  Because I was drawing in a spiral I was concerned that as I moved around the paper I might smudge earlier work.  So, rather than struggling with that, I decided to draw in sections and then ink each section before I carried on.  This worked better than expected.



Gradually I worked my way around the picture…



…until I had my inks finished.



Then I used watercolour to colour and tone my image and then played around a little with my background using Photoshop.  (I had painted a simple gradient wash with watercolour but it looked flat and boring so I added some shapes with a large soft brush tool in Photoshop and then ran a filter over them to draw the changes together and soften them.)  Here’s the final piece…


The Fae

A while ago I watched the TV series Carnival Row on Amazon Prime. I loved it. Travis Beacham’s story and world was fresh, different and beautifully crafted. I was totally blow away by it. It’s set in a Victorian world where mythical races, collectively called “The Fae”, have been discovered. They include pucks, faeries, kobolds and centaurs. It is wonderfully done. Having watched the series, twice, I felt inspired to paint my own faerie. Last time I posted about this I got to the stage where I’d played around with the the idea and drawn some quick thumbnails.

From there I made a basic sketch of the pose I’d decided on…

Next I used this as a reference for a more careful drawing to use in my final painting…

Then I began to paint. I added a yellow wash with more pigment around the area where my sun was going to be and less elsewhere. (The yellow is a bit stronger on the actual painting than in this photo. I think my camera noticed that I was taking a photo under artificial light and corrected the white balance a bit too far..) Here’s the photo…

Then I painted my larger areas with some initial colour. For the wings I began with a light ultramarine wash with a tiny bit of viridian in it. I tried to keep it light enough that some of the sun colour would show through. Here’s this stage…

Now I wasn’t happy with the brown trousers she is wearing (above) so I reworked them into a blue. It gave me a really nice shade. I see brown as just a darker version of orange so I used that information to help me mix a new blue on the page. Once that was done I added some shading for all of the main colours and shapes and then got into the details – always my favourite part!!!

Here’s the final picture…

(PS: I’ve been unwell this week with a bug going doing the rounds at school. Apologies for any typographical errors etc. Although I wrote this post weeks ago I normally do a final editorial check before publication, however I haven’t been able to do that this week.)

Elephant Hawk Moth and LadyBird in Watercolour

I had more fun with painting this week. I was browsing the internet when I came upon this beautiful creature – an Elephant Hawk Moth (Deilephila elpenor)

Often, many of the biggest, most beautiful insects in the world are found in warmer climates, but this pink-lovely is resident in the UK! Apparently it really likes Rosebay Willowherb which is a colonising plant on wasteground, roadside verges and other places. We have it at the side of the Common near where I live. I’m going to look out for it and see if I can see any Hawk Moth caterpillars, pupae, or even young moths this spring. They overwinter as pupae low down on plants or even in leaf litter so I might find one in any stage of development. In fact tomorrow is the 2nd February, which is traditionally the day when ancient people around here used to believe that the earth began to stir again after winter, so it’s a good time to start looking for new life.

Because I had so much pain when I was painting in acrylics at the table I’ve gone back to painting in bed with all of the paintings I’ve done in the last two weeks and it is so much easier. I painted 2 pictures this week – the Elephant Hawkmoth and a Ladybird on a Flower.

Here’s my initial sketch of the moth…

I decided to paint this using a mixture of watercolours and watercolour pencils. The pencils were ideal for the details of this subject because I could get really thin lines, even thinner than with my 10/0 rigger brush. I started with a graded wash as my background with two colours in it to work in harmony with my subject. However at the end I realised that I needed a plainer background for such a detailed, patterned creature so I mixed my watercolour paint with white gouache to make a flat light green colour. I chose it because it’s supposed to be the complementary colour for pink. Here’s the final painting…

My second painting this week is quite simple, a Ladybird on a flower. Here’s the sketch…

I used watercolour paints for this one, rather than the pencils. It was done with basic wet on wet washes and a tiny bit of wet on dry for the shadows. Here’s the final painting…

I was feeling quite sunny when I painted this and I think that got reflected in the cheerful colour palette.

Poppies – an experiment

I saw this unusual and fascinating approach to painting flowers in a more abstract way on You Tube.  It’s by Joanne Boon Thomas:


I really wanted to try it. I thought it would give me more practice at working with my new paints and be quite fun too!

I worked on an A3 piece of watercolour paper.  (It doesn’t have a watermark so I just hope I got it the right way around!)  I used my new Winsor and Newton Professional half pans.

This is the first wash.  You wet the flower area and then drop in colour and allow it to mix.  Then, with lots of water and paint still there you let it run down the paper.  I really like the streaks which come when you blow on it so I did that to encourage it to run.

Then you paint in basic stalks and flowerbuds.

P1 - poppies

The once this was dry I painted wet on dry with stronger colour and then softened it with a wet brush into the shapes I wanted.  It turned out much better than I expected and was dead easy to do.  I really really like this technique.  I wonder what else can be painted in this way?…


Watercolour Rose – more playing with colour

Last night I watched a You Tube video where the artist, Birgit O’Connor uses a wet on wet blending technique where she moves the colour around using gravity.  It looks amazing:


I wanted to have a try with my new paints using this technique.  So I found a picture of a rose to use as a basic reference image but I knew that, apart from the shape, I was going to deviate from the reference significantly because I didn’t know what the paint would do.  It was fascinating to watch the paint mixing and moving – I got quite carried away with it and worked on this picture for a couple of hours which is a long time for me.  During that time I forgot to take any process pictures – I was just caught up in the painting itself.

My results were a bit mixed, but this is only the first attempt – I’m sure with practice I can get better.  Anyway here it is:


White Orchid Paintings – more colour fun!

Today I photographed a white orchid I have growing in my kitchen.  It was a Mother’s day present from 2 and half years ago.  The amazing plant is still flowering!


I find the shape and form of these flowers really beautiful.  I also love the way this delicate green shades into the flower in the middle.  There’s also this delicate pink to the edges of some of the outer petals which you can only see in some kinds of light.

I made a painting of the flowers:


…and then went on to make a card for a member of my family who’s having a birthday:

orchid card

I found the orchid to be quite a difficult subject with it’s complicated shape and very gentle colour.  It was really enjoyable to work on though.


The Hummingbird

This is the second line and wash picture I made before going away on holiday.  My idea was to paint a Hummingbird.

Here is the original sketch:


And here I’m beginning to paint – always a scary moment!   🙂

hummingbird_beginingtopaintI decided about halfway through that I wanted to paint a background for this animal so I quickly sketched out my idea to see if it would work:

hummingbirdbackgroundsketchThen I painted the whole thing and added some my ink afterwards to really pick out the bird from the background:


With this painting I used standard watercolours rather than the pencils and I definitely prefer them – although that could just be a measure of my lack of ability to use the pencils well.