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Is anyone good at water colours and can advise??

(64 Posts)
HeyHo Thu 17-Dec-20 22:43:44

I started going to a class just before lockdown closed it all..

I am a graphic artist by training in the olden days, but now work as a genealogist - but find water colours great fun.

My techniques are rather hit and miss though!!!

Family have bought me:-

Water colour pencils which are a mystery
Block water colour paints -which I like
Water colour pens - slightly mysterious
Water colour tubes - why do they flake?


what sort of paper weight is best?
Some textured ones tend to come slightly apart when wet -

I have loads of brushes of all sorts

I like landscapes

I like birds but can only paint them when they face left......

There we are then - lots of queries

and basically.........HELP!!

Callistemon Thu 17-Dec-20 22:53:50

I haven't done anything for ages but I do remember being advised to buy the best quality heavy paper, and to place it on a board and use artists' tape all around the edge to stop the paper buckling when you drop water or wet paint on to it..

I used masking tape but I just checked online and it isn't recommended - but we all used it and it seemed fine.

nadateturbe Thu 17-Dec-20 23:36:44

I try watercolour now and again but I prefer acrylics because you can fix mistakes easier but my art class mostly prefer watercolour. One technique we were taught is to use masking tape to secure the paper on to a board, then wet the paper and let it dry before using. But I have also painted without doing this. You will need masking fluid or pen. I use mixed media paper quite a lot simply because its cheaper for learning, and Winsor and Newton 309gsm/140lbwhich is quite thick. I have some books by Terry Harrison and he has quite a lot of info on youtube. I'm sure others will have lots of ideas.
I use blocks which I like and also tubes. I've never noticed them flaking. Maybe someone else will know.
Developing your own ideas is good. Its amazing what we learn from each other. I did an acrylic painting of a bluebell forest recently and used cotton buds.
I'm still very much a learner four years on but its a great pastime. Happy painting!

BlueBelle Fri 18-Dec-20 00:21:16

I like things facing left too it always feels wrong when they face right ???
nadateturvo I remember posing for you in the forest Did it turn out well ?

CocoPops Fri 18-Dec-20 04:14:32

How about an online course eg Andy Walker on www.udemy,com does inexpensive watercolour landscape courses. I recommend you buy good quality paper to practise on so you get to know how the paint flows,blends, dries etc. Watercolours don't like cheap paper and you won't get good results.
I use Arches 140lb and Bockingford 140lb. and stretch it .If you google "How to stretch watercolour paper" you will find a demonstration on youtube. I use Winsor and Newton Artists quality tube paints. Pan paints are fine too.Have fun smile

Sparkling Fri 18-Dec-20 05:29:15

I went to two different art classes. At each class all students seemed very good artists producing excellent work. I was never good at drawing and perspective and needed to master that first, but it was taken that you should know it. I have all the necessary materials, I paint as I see it and know technically it is bad, but I enjoy doing it so much I carry on as no one gets to see it. Funnily enough I am most pleased painting people's faces, it's when they are joined to a body it all goes very wrong.

CanadianGran Fri 18-Dec-20 05:35:27

I've only used watercolour in blocks, so can't recommend anything about the tube paints.

Make sure you use good quality paper (I believe most is 140 lb), and don't overwork the colour. This is perhaps why it is disintegrating while wet.

I'm not really very good, and certainly a beginner as well.

Leisure Artist magazine is good for tutorials and info on products. I think I like reading about art more than actually doing it!

nadateturbe Fri 18-Dec-20 07:25:50

One of my best Bluebelle but then I had the perfect subject grin

Greyduster Fri 18-Dec-20 07:48:15

140lb paper is good to start with (you will probably waste a lot. For every one good picture you’ll want to throw half a dozen in the bin!) but as mentioned upthread you will have to stretch it - that is tape it to a board and then wet it all over and let it dry. This will stop the paper from cockling (going wavy). You can get heavier weights of paper that you won’t need to stretch but they are not worth the expense at this stage. To start with, buy a large brush and keep your paintings “loose” until you understand the techniques a bit more - especially “wet in wet”. A hake, which is a brush with a wide flat head is good if you are starting out. People paint whole pictures using nothing but this brush. Blocks of watercolour are ok if you are sketching or working “small”, but to cover large areas of paper with washes, you need to use tube paints and mix it on a plastic pallet - you can buy these very cheaply - or an old dinner plate. Water colour is a wonderful but often frustrating medium - unlike oil, there’s not much margin for error. The most important lesson I learned was that the paint will always dry lighter than when you put it on the paper, so be brave about the initial depth of your colour. Good luck with it - you’ll love it!

LaRia44 Fri 18-Dec-20 08:02:00

Water colour is the most difficult medium to work with, you can’t hide mistakes.
I agree that heavy weigh paper is best, and do stick it down to a board.
Tube water colour does dry out in the tube but still work when mixed with water. You can cut the tube open to get at it.
Don’t be afraid to make mistakes, that’s how you learn, also try new things and you will develop your own style.
I paint in acrylic and water soluble oil and I have oil bars as well.
I’m not technical and not good at drawing, I paint from the heart and my emotions are colours.
It’s a wonderful hobby, enjoy!

Humbertbear Fri 18-Dec-20 08:09:30

Watercolour pencils can be used as ordinary coloured pencils. But, after colouring the paper you can then wet the area. Alternatively, you can use the pencil as a stick of watercolour and use a wet brush to take colour off the pencil and apply to the paper.
I would recommend joining the SAA - Society for All Artists. They have a vast library of online tutorials that will help you.

Iam64 Fri 18-Dec-20 08:22:53

One of the positives of this grim period has been my attempt to teach myself to draw. I'd never done anything, then joined a beginners class which of course closed. I carried on trying, then bought some water colours and a pad of decent quality paper.
I've joined an on line tutorial group and it's been a great distraction

HeyHo Fri 18-Dec-20 08:52:36

Isn't it grand to have so much help? I can't wait to get going again, which I might well do this afternoon, as it is such a very dark, and stormy day.
I work in the mornings, and then try and paint or read, or write in the afternoons. My OH has dementia and spends all his time in front of quiz shows on volume 50 - so my painting attempts are a distraction....

Thank you one and all for all the lovely answers!

Whitewavemark2 Fri 18-Dec-20 08:56:34

Some excellent tips! I’m a bit of a jobbing water colourer, but I can totally lose myself in a project.

Jane10 Fri 18-Dec-20 09:03:51

Well done all of you. I can't even imagine trying to paint at all far less in watercolour. I did Art 'O level' but found it very frustrating that I couldn't turn what I saw in my head into a work on paper.
Oldgoat recently showed some of us on zoom some pictures that she'd painted during a zoom class for her WI. I don't know who the teacher had been but it sounded like a great session and the paintings were very good. We were impressed.

Greyduster Fri 18-Dec-20 09:11:36

One thing that helped me to understand the way watercolour worked was to look at the work of various watercolour artists and notice the way the various techniques - large washes, wet in wet, granulation, dry brush, etc - work for them. When I look at pictures now, I find I’m looking less at the overall picture and more at the techniques used to create it. It enriches the whole. When you can do that, and think “I know how they did that/got that effect” you’ll feel you have “come of age” with watercolour. Just enjoy it for now, though!?

Madgran77 Fri 18-Dec-20 09:39:42

Bockingford paper is a good starter paper as the paint works well on it. Enjoy

Antonia Fri 18-Dec-20 10:53:59

I once did a course given by Anna Mason. She's a brilliant water colour artist who paints flowers, birds, animals etc. Her videos give you step by step instructions on mixing your colours, and the order in which to paint. I'm not a natural artist but even I managed to produce half decent watercolours. Once you have learned her technique, you can go on to apply it to your own work. I'll post a couple of photos of my results from her course.

Iam64 Fri 18-Dec-20 10:59:24

Antonia, that's the course I joined. She's a good tutor

Antonia Fri 18-Dec-20 11:06:40

Iam64 agreed, she's excellent. I tried to post a couple of photos but failed so far - phone memory is low. I'll try again.

Lovetopaint037 Fri 18-Dec-20 11:13:13

It all depends how much you wet your paper. If you use 1401b
and over you only need to hold your paper down with some strips of masking tape. However, if you mean to soak the paper then stretching it would be a better idea. I remember Alwyn Crawshaw giving a talk and demonstration years ago and he suggested using some clips.
It is important to use decent paints. Better to use fewer colours and pay more for them than a cheap brand and more of them. I am not sure what you mean by “flaking”as I have never experienced this. Tubes are useful when you first begin as you are forced to pick up each tube and read the name of the colour. This allows you to get to know each actual colour whereas pans are not so identifiable once the wrappers are taken off. You can however make a chart of where they are all placed. Usually it is advocated to have at least two shades of all the primary colours. For example ultramarine blue and cadmium blue, cadmium red and crimson alizarin, cadmium yellow and lemon yellow. Add a burnt umber, yellow ochre and burnt sienna and you should be okay. Of course there are other colours. I love curelium for example. Think I’ve spelt it wrong ! Of course ultramarine and burnt umber make a black if you haven’t got one. However black and yellow make a dark green. Which reminds me that sap green is a really useful green for landscapes although most greens profit from mixing with another colour. A nice big brush with good point is the one to have plus a small one for some details. Sable is a good option. This enables you gather sufficient water and paint.Watercolour of course goes from light to dark so a little planning might be advantageous, Basically it’s all about practise. Also those water colour pencils can be used within a painting or for sketching when out and about. Just a little water and a brush is needed. That’s not saying they can’t be used for larger pieces of art but just check they are colour fast if you intend to sell them or hang them near light. Of course watercolours should not be hung near a direct light source as they can fade.

Gwenisgreat1 Fri 18-Dec-20 11:14:46

I will still have a struggle with watercolours, not much help - I love Acrylics and oils. I had to give up my beloved pastels 5 years ago after I was diagnosed with TB

Antonia Fri 18-Dec-20 11:19:52

This is from Anna Mason's course

Antonia Fri 18-Dec-20 11:21:26

What a shame that you had to give up pastels Gwen

GrandmasueUK Fri 18-Dec-20 11:31:51

I watch the Jay Lee Painting channel on Youtube. When I first started watching, three years ago, he had his baby son, Charlie, strapped to his chest while he painted. It was lovely to watch. He uses different techniques for watercolours and I've followed along with his tutorials.