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Welcome to the second installment of our Let’s Paint! series.
We’ve put together another selection of easy-to-follow painting
demonstrations and simple techniques for you to try at home.
Let’s Paint! is designed to offer a little gentle encouragement to artists
when they are starting out, helping you to build your confidence
Let’s Paint! with your brush. And if you have already mastered the techniques
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Editor Steve Pill Deceptively simple yet hard to master, Rob Dudley explains this basic technique

Senior Art Editor Chloë Collyer
Features Writer Martha Alexander

Digital Product Manager Terri Eaton

Advertisement Manager Lyndal Beeton Learn how to combine layers of watercolour to vary colour and tone

Sales Executive Tom O’Byrne
Advertising Production allpointsmedia

Managing Director Paul Dobson HOW TO PAINT… SHAPES IN “CLOUDS”
Deputy Managing Director Steve Ross
Let chance marks be your guide in this demonstration by artist Mark Mehaffey
Editor in Chief Sue Herdman

Commercial Director Vicki Gavin
Publisher Simon Temlett
Head of Marketing Will Delmont

Rob Dudley, Glyn Macey and
Mark Mehaffey Glyn Macey shows you how to find movement and colour in a simple landscape
Taken from Glyn Macey’s Acrylics
Unleashed (Search Press)


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How to make…
A Flat Wash
Ro b Du d l ey
The importance of the watercolour be graduated, variegated or used to so difficult to mix more colour in the
wash cannot be overstated. It can be build up layers of tone or colour. It is middle of painting, not only in terms
used to fill an entire sheet of paper or an essential skill that the watercolour of trying to match the colour and
to pick out the smallest area of detail. artist needs to practice. tone, but also to make it up quickly
It can be applied to unpainted areas, When practicing, I would suggest enough to avoid the waiting wash
to a previously painted area; it can that good quality materials are drying. It is far better to mix up too
essential; if possible, use artists’ much paint rather than not enough.
quality watercolours as these will Work with a brush that is large
You will need give the most satisfying results. Pan enough to hold sufficient paint. Too
• A sheet of Bockingford colours are acceptable, however when small a brush will require constant
130lb NOT surface painting larger areas I prefer to use visits to the palette, which in turn is
watercolour paper tubes as I can mix a good pool of likely to result in a wash that looks
• A size 10 kolinsky sable brush colour more quickly. streaky. Keep your mix clean by
• A tube of French Ultramarine Mix colours in a palette that has using clean water at all times. Use a
artists’ quality watercolour deep wells; a saucer makes a good minimum of two jars of water: one to
• A flat board alternative if a palette is not available. clean the brushes in and the other to
Mix plenty of your chosen colour. It is add to the wash.

1 The flat wash is, as the name implies,

a wash with no gradation in tone or
colour. The colour is evenly applied
2 Taking a fully loaded brush and with
the board slightly sloping towards you,
on dry paper, begin to apply the wash
3 Continue to bring the wash down the
paper until it reaches the bottom.
Work quickly. Any excess colour at the
across the painted surface, from top to to the top of the paper. As the board is bottom of the paper can be removed by
bottom or side-to-side. On a sheet of slightly raised, a bead of colour will form lifting it off with a dry brush or mopped up
stretched watercolour paper, define an along the leading edge of the wash and by carefully using the corner of a sheet of
area approximately the same size as a post it is this bead of colour that the next full kitchen roll.
card with masking tape. Mix up a sufficient stroke of the brush should incorporate.
quantity of colour before beginning
painting – I’ve chosen to use artists’ quality
French Ultramarine blue for this exercise.


Winter Beach
Watercolour, 50x70cm
In this example, you can see how a quickly painted, freely applied wash produces a lovely
clean sky. To achieve this finish, it was essential to have a sufficient pool of paint ready
mixed – the effect would have been lost if more colour had to be mixed during painting.

4 At this point I will often lay the board

flat to allow equal drying time: if the
board is left at an angle, the top will dry
5 If the area painted is not too large, or it
is a particularly ‘wet’ wash, I will often
lift and tilt the board to spread the colour
6 If you are happy with the distribution
of the colour, lay your board flat and
allow the wash to dry undisturbed. Avoid
faster than the bottom. The water will run more uniformly over the required area to the temptation to test the dryness with
down the slope taking the colour with it ensure an even distribution of the wash. a finger. The wash will dry with a matt
and will consequently dry more rapidly. finish; any shine will indicate the continued
This might result in an uneven wash, an presence of water and any testing is likely
unwanted drying line or a to result in an unsightly mark.
cauliflower-like effect.

How to create…
A Layer of BWashes
y l ey Ro b Du d
One of the exciting characteristics of
watercolour is its capacity to produce
transparent washes. Many artists
exploit this characteristic by building
up layers of washes that will produce
interesting tones and modulated
colours, tones and colours that
would be difficult if not impossible to
produce in any other way.
Watercolour washes must be
allowed to dry completely before
any over painting is attempted. If a
wash is applied before the previous
wash is bone dry it is likely to result in
unsightly drying marks or the dreaded
‘cauliflower’. This can be particularly
apparent in wash that is meant to be
uniform, flat and without blemish.
A completely dry wash will be ‘matt’
in appearance; any shine will indicate
the presence of moisture meaning
that the wash is still damp and any
over painting should be avoided.

You will need

• A sheet of Bockingford 130lb
NOT surface watercolour
• A size 10 kolinsky sable brush
• A tube of French Ultramarine
artists’ quality watercolour
• A flat board
• Masking tape

Low Tide, Mothecombe

Watercolour, 50x70cm
A good example how the layering of
watercolour washes creates lively,
interesting colours and variation in
tone, particularly on the beach
and distant fields.

how to create… a layer of washes

1 On a sheet of pre-stretched and dry

watercolour paper, I marked out a
rectangle in masking tape that was
2 Starting a third of the way down the
first wash, paint a second wash over
it, using the same paint mix. If the second
3 Now add the third and final wash to
the bottom third of the rectangle.
When this is completely dry, note how
approximately 10cm by 15cm. Within this wash is added before the first wash has the layering of paint has created three
shape, I painted a flat wash, similar to the dried, the effect will be lost. Again, allow different tones from one colour. Once
one in my demonstration on page 4. Leave to dry completely. you have mastered this, move onto step
the wash to dry. 4, where I will show you how this tonal
layering can be used to create a very
simple riverscape.

4 On a separate stretched piece of

watercolour paper, mark out a
rectangle of masking tape, as before. Mix
5 Apply a second wash, starting about
one third of the way up and using
the ready-mixed paint – this wash will
6 In the foreground, add the third and
final wash over the near riverbank
that you created in the previous step. By
plenty of paint. The mix does not have to represent my distant riverbank. Work doubling up the colour here, this third and
be too strong – the overlapping layers of quickly and avoid the temptation to final wash will create the strongest tone in
colour will create different tones, not by ‘fiddle’. As part of this second layer, add the image.
the addition of more paint. another wash to the foreground – the near
Apply the wash to the defined area. bank. Allow both to dry.
Don’t be too concerned if a few areas of
paper are left unpainted; these little flecks
of white paper add to the overall interest
within the painting. Allow this first wash to Layering muLtipLe coLours
completely dry. The colour produced by layering one
colour over another often produces
interesting and sometimes unexpected
effects. It is always useful for the artist
to be aware of how different paint
colours behave when they are layered.
Time spent producing charts showing
the colours that can be created by
layering is seldom wasted.

How to paint…
Shapes in “clouds”
e h aff ey
By Ma r k M
Let’s just say I’m over 50, but I still love to watch clouds. I have fun imagining all
sorts of creatures, faces and objects in them as they go by.
In this project, you’ll find shapes within “clouds” of paint. Specifically,
you’ll do an underpainting of light-value washes, then look for shapes in that
underpainting. Whatever you see in the paint clouds will be the subject of your
painting. You’ll use negative painting to reveal shapes.

1 Do the UnDerpainting
Use a 1” flat brush to flood the paper
with clear water. Wait until the shine
2 Begin to Define
the SUBject
Mix slightly darker versions of the colours
3 Bring oUt More Detail
Usually, as one progresses from larger
to smaller shapes in a painting, one uses
has just started to disappear, then you used in step 1. With a 1” flat, cut in smaller brushes. In this painting, for a
brush on random strokes of Cobalt around the large bloom that will be the looser, unlaboured look, stay with a 1” flat
Blue, Quinacridone Rose, and a violet focal area. The underpainting here is a as long as possible.
made from those two colours plus New strong Quinacridone Rose, so make that Mix slightly stronger washes of the
Gamboge. Allow this to dry; use a hair mixture only slightly darker than in the same colors you used in step 2. Move
dryer if you want it to dry quickly. previous step. to the lower right of the painting and
Take a long look at the result. Turn As you work to the right, the define some of the leaf and stem shapes.
the paper in every direction. Do you see underpainting changes to a violet made Occasionally let one side of a stroke define
something? Part of something? Keep with Cobalt Blue and Quinacridone Rose; a shape negatively while the other side of
looking, and something will become switch wash colours as you go. Define the that same stroke becomes a positive edge
evident to you. In my underpainting I saw a edges of the leaves and stems. Switch to for another shape.
complicated bloom and abstracted leaves the lower-right corner and define that area Move back to the top of the painting,
and stems with strong light coming from with washes of New Gamboge and a violet which should be dry by now, and use an
the right. mixture. Allow all of this to dry completely. even stronger, darker wash to redefine
some of the leaf shapes. Create one stem
by painting around it; add another stem by
painting it in. Allow all of this to dry.


ÚYou will need

• Watercolours
Cobalt Blue, New Gamboge,
Quinacridone Rose and
Winsor Red
• Paper
140lb (300gsm) cold-
pressed, stretched 56x38cm
watercolour paper
• Brushes
½” (12mm), ¾” (19mm) and
1” (25mm) flat brushes


Switch to a ¾” flat. Mix strong puddles of
Use a ½” flat to directly paint more
petals within the bloom. The petals on the
Final painting
Clouds to Flower, watercolour on
cold-pressed paper, 56x38cm
Quinacridone Rose and Winsor Red on left are away from the light and should
your palette. Begin on the left edge of the be quite dark. As you move toward the
focal area, the bloom, and paint the small right side, make the petals lighter. As in
shapes that form the petals. As in step 3, step 4, vary the temperatures of the reds.
use one stroke to paint one side of a petal Continue around to the light side of the
and define the negative space around bloom, adding petal shapes. Directly paint
another petal. Vary the temperature of a couple of leaves. Also add an accent of
your reds: let some of the petals lean stronger Cobalt Blue to the edge of the
toward cooler Quinacridone Rose, and let flower to help pull the viewer’s eye away This is an extract from
other petals lean toward warmer Winsor from the bull’s-eye created by the circular Creative Workshop
Red. As you move to the right within the center of the bloom.
Watercolor & Acrylic
bloom, let the values get dramatically
by Mark Mehaffey,
lighter. This will create the illusion of light
published by
coming from the right.
North Light Books,
RRP £16.99.

how to paint… a poppy field

How to paint…
A Poppy Field
yn Ma c ey
By Gl  You will need
• Paper
Rough watercolour paper,
76 x 56cm
For this painting I chose a beautiful field of poppies,
• Acrylic paints
which sway in the breeze on their long willowy stems
Titanium White, Ultramarine Blue,
creating patterns almost like the waves on the ocean.
Cadmium Red Medium, Phthalo
Flowers help to create a lot of movement in a painting,
Turquoise, Cadmium Yellow
and a great way to understand that movement is to
get amongst the action.
• Brushes
Capturing movement is not easy but applying loose
Size 8 short flat/bright,
areas of paint with sponges and rags helps to realise
Size 2 filbert
the transient nature of movement. When using such
• Conté sticks
unconventional methods to apply paint, accidents will
Green, orange
occur. These accidents can be happy accidents that
• 4B pencil
fill you with joy and create painting magic or simply
• Painting board and easel
accidents that do not work! Fear not, acrylics are so
• Masking tape
versatile that even ‘naughty accidents’ can be brought
• Red-brown watersoluble pencil
under control by over-painting or simply wiping the
• Blue pencil
offending marks away with a wet sponge.
• Sponge


1 Make a grid of 10cm squares using a red-brown watersoluble

pencil, then lightly sketch the main shapes on to the 2 Use a damp household sponge to
gently rub the watersoluble pencil
Taking the sky
watercolour paper using a blue pencil. Next, secure the paper to grid from the sky area. colour below the
the board using masking tape and place it on your easel. horizon creates
tonal unity across
the painting.

Using the edge and point
of a sponge allows you
more control to get stronger
definition. You can also dance
other parts of the sponge over
the surface to give looser,
lighter touches. I call this
technique ‘fairy fingers’!

3 Make a dilute mix of Titanium White and Ultramarine Blue.

Pick up the mix on the sponge and use long horizontal strokes
to apply it to the sky, working from the top down to slightly below
4 Tear a sponge into a point and pick up Cadmium Red Medium.
Use it to block in the main poppies in the foreground, then
dilute the paint slightly to suggest the mass of poppies on the
the horizon. horizon. This gives the colour a lighter tint and helps to create a
sense of distance. It may seem odd to use the red now, but using
it over the clean white paper gives the best vibrancy.

how to paint… a poppy field

5 Add a little Phthalo Turquoise to Cadmium Yellow Medium to

create a bright green. Use a size 8 short flat/bright to apply a
slightly diluted mix to the background. This allows the blue paint
6 Use a fresh piece of sponge to apply gestural, calligraphic
strokes of the green to the foreground. Bigger, more energetic
strokes make things seem closer to you, helping to reinforce the
below to show through, creating an optical mix and giving greater sense of distance.
clarity of colour.

7 Use the edge of the sponge to run

in lines of undiluted green fairly
randomly to the foreground to suggest
8 Add a touch of Ultramarine Blue to
the green mix to darken it slightly, and
use the size 8 short flat/bright to create
9 Still using the size 8 short flat/bright
with the dilute green mix, press the
brush on to the edges of the central poppy
grass and flower stems. Use areas where shadow areas around the foreground. Use and twist it to create an area of shadow.
paint has dripped down the painting to the paint fairly dilute, so that it runs and
your advantage, reinforcing them to help drips, but do not over-dilute or you will
suggest areas of shadow. lose the strength of colour.


10 Repeat the process on the other large poppies in the

foreground, then use the green mix – very diluted – to add
light glazing touches to the background poppies.
11 Spatter the very dilute green mix (a little Phthalo Turquoise,
Cadmium Yellow Medium and Ultramarine Blue) over the
background field.

12 Make more of the dark green mix (Cadmium Yellow Medium,

Phthalo Turquoise and Ultramarine Blue). Use the size 8
short flat/bright to establish the dark area in the background,
13 Develop the darks in the foreground with the same mix,
applying the mix with shorter, more controlled strokes.

scrubbing the colour in undiluted. As the paint runs out, turn the
brush side-on and use a dry brush technique to suggest foliage –
the paint will pick out the surface texture of the paper (see inset).


14 Still using the same dark mix, use a size 2 filbert to pick
out the chimney pots on the building in the top
right-hand corner.
15 Use Cadmium Red Medium neat from the tube to suggest
the poppies in the background. Suggest the distance by
making only small marks using the edge and corners of a fresh
size 8 short flat brush.

16 Still using neat Cadmium Red Medium, break up the

line between the back of the poppy field and the dark
background by applying dots and dashes with the size 2 filbert.
17 Allow the painting to dry thoroughly,
then draw the sharp edge of a green
Conté stick (see inset) to add some vertical
strokes in the central foreground.

This article features in Acrylics Unleashed

by Glyn Macey, published by Search Press,
RRP £14.99.


18 Pick out some highlights on the poppies using the orange

Conté stick. 19 Darken the lower left foreground with the dilute dark green
mix and the size 8 short flat/bright, then scrape out some
stems below the poppy using the back of the brush to finish.

The finished painting


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