Fritz Nobis Rose Sketch

I’m still recovering from a cold, so just the thought of getting out my art supplies is exhausting. Seriously! Who would have thought that grabbing out some brushes, pans, palettes, water bottles… the list goes on and then I just want to sleep… It is a bad cold.

Since I really enjoyed doing my earlier pen and ink sketch, and it uses so few materials (literally a pen and paper), I decided I would focus on another practice sketch. There is much less stress in the concept of a sketch – no finished artwork piece that will be judged; in fact if I hate it I can just scrunch up the bit of paper and throw it straight into the bin. It’s kind of relaxing and exhilarating.

Sketch of a Rose In Ink

Not all my artwork is in watercolours; often the process of creating a piece involves not only the sketch, but studies of reference materials.

I used to be a big advocate for pen and ink drawings. It’s a great medium to create art in as it can involve a very low set-up cost, and it can easily be done at any time or place.

Having said that, its been quite a while since I had done anything with ink. Obviously time to break out the old pencil case!

I realised that it has been a while since I have drawn in ink – I have forgotten the ideal way of drawing cross hatching. The overall drawing was a bit “sketchy” – I didn’t focus on creating perfect lines or trying to be particularly neat.

Just from this little sketch that only took an hour or so to do, I came to a few conclusions:

  • I do miss pen and ink drawings – I will endeavour to do more.
  • I prefer the slower and neater artworks rather than my quicker reference studies.
  • My quick reference studies are good at breaking out of my “perfection” rut – I don’t need every piece to look perfect.
  • My quick reference studies are great for getting familiar with a subject – understanding shape, form, colors, and more.

Colorful Waterfall

Sometimes I imagine something amazing in my mind, yet yet the finished painting turns nothing out like I imagined. This is one such example.

Colorful Waterfall - a watercolor painting by Kat Skinner.
Colorful Waterfall – a watercolor painting by Kat Skinner.


One Of My First Paintings

Terry Harrison Trace and Paint Tutorial Result - a watercolor painting by Kat Skinner.

The other day I was going through my archive of paintings, and came across one of my very first watercolour paintings.

Terry Harrison Trace and Paint Tutorial Result
Terry Harrison Trace and Paint Tutorial Result

To make this finished painting I used a tutorial from the from the book Trace & Paint Watercolour (Ready to Paint) by the authors Terry Harrison, Geoff Kersey and Arnold Lowrey. This particular painting is done by following one of Terry Harrison’s tutorials.

The book Trace & Paint Watercolour (Ready to Paint) is a great book for absolute beginners who don’t want to have to come up with their own compositions or sketches in order to produce a nice painting. That’s a whole different challenge for artists – and when you are just beginning its a great way for you to focus on practicing your painting skills.

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Practicing Negative Painting

Practicing Negative Watercolor Painting

On top of learning how to control watercolours, there are also a variety of techniques to learn that will help you achieve depth and a solid painting. One of these techniques is negative painting.

Practicing Negative Watercolor Painting
Practicing Negative Watercolor Painting

In essential principles, negative painting is when you paint around a shape and not the actual shape of the object.

In the sketch above you can see I painted around the lightest trees with the darker layers of paint. However in this painting I only did one layer of negative painting, painting the second and third layers of paint (red and dark red).

Practicing Negative Watercolor Painting
Practicing Negative Watercolor Painting

The second practice sketch I did was much larger. The larger paper sized allowed me to more easily add more layers of negative painting without feeling too cramped.

Using the same colors as earlier, I left complete white of the paper. I could have easily tinted this color with a light wash, but since this was a sketch and just for practice I wasn’t too focused on getting the picture to look “perfect”. Since this practice piece was larger, I also choose to add more details to the negative layer shapes. You can see this the clearest at the edges of the painting, where each layer has a more positive painting effect where I implied foliage.

It’s always good to practice combining and shifting negative and positive painting in the same area to imply areas of foliage.

Acorns and Leaves

There are a lot of tutorials online – usually for beginners – for painting leaves. If you remember from some of my other posts, I wanted to learn how to paint leaves more accurately. Thus I delved into painting two detailed leaves with some acorns sitting on top.

At first I thought this painting was an utter failure – I kept fiddling with it and every time it seemed to get worse and worse. I decided to walk away.

When I returned… I was shocked! It looked better than I thought… I took a few steps closer… and yuck…. but stepping back, it looked great again.

This painting, whilst not an absolute masterpiece, became a favourite of mine as it reminds me that not everyone will be viewing my artwork as closely as I am (whilst I paint it). In fact, for most hanging artworks you view them anywhere from one to several meters away.

Wet on Wet Fantasy Background

I was just playing around with dropping wet paint onto wet paper. I really enjoyed this exercise, and was pleasantly surprised at how they turned it a very misty surreal background.

My Beautiful Kitty

What artist doesn’t paint their pets? Something (or someone as some may see it) that is loved so much deserves their own portraits. After having watched a tutorial on painting fur in watercolour, I thought I would try my hand at it with a quick sketch.

First layer of paint goes down of my Birman cat with Daniel Smith tube paint color Buff Titanium.

After the initial layer was dry I painted fur strokes with Buff Titanium and Goethite mix.

Painted a second #watercolor layer of#danielsmith Buff Titanium and Goethite. Paid attention to make fur like strokes.

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I layered Raw Umber on the darker areas of face.

Painted a third layer of #watercolor with Raw Umber on the darker areas. Again making fur like strokes on the #cat face.

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And finally I placed the darkest layer of paint on the face and painted the gorgeous blue eyes.

Finished my quick sketch of my #birman #cat in #watercolor. This exercise was to practice painting fur.

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Bird On A Fence

Bird On A Fence - a watercolor painting by Kat Skinner.

Most new watercolour paintings begin with a pencil sketch. I heightened the contrast on this photograph to make the lines seem more noticeable.

I also applied masking fluid/frisket to the foreground and bird since I wanted to start by painting the background first.

I applied a thick layer of paint for the background using Quinacridone Gold, Pyrrol Blue and Pyrrol Scarlet. It appears very vibrant since it’s still quite wet.

Watercolour dries 20-30% lighter (on average). You can clearly see the difference.

Unfortunately I had a puddle of water on the centre of my paper which caused some blossoming.

When it was fully dried, I tried painting another layer of paint over the background to try to hide the blossoming. I regret this. The more I touched the background, the more the paint underneath lifted. It resulted in a lot of brush marks.

This caused me to go on and learn more about glazing more effectively.

I also attempted to paint the mid-ground bushes. I realised at this point that a lot of tutorials online about painting distant foliage and very detailed foliage, but not many tutorials about painting mid-ground foliage. My attempts resulted in what can be assumed as foliage, but an unsatisfactory look.

Next layer of #watercolor paint is the mid-ground bushes. I used #danielsmith pyroll blue and quin gold.

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I then focused on painting the aged wooden planks that made up the fence. I wanted these tinged slightly blue to suggest that it had been many years since they had been painted and cared for – the rustic look.

Finally I worked on the foreground rose vines, the yellow roses and the blue bird.

Being so unsatisfied with the background, I decided to not spend too much time on the foreground as the main purpose of doing this painting was to practice dark backgrounds and wood textures.

The finished painting: