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.

A post shared by Kathleen Skinner (@kat_skinner) on

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.

A post shared by Kathleen Skinner (@kat_skinner) on

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.

A post shared by Kathleen Skinner (@kat_skinner) on

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.

A post shared by Kathleen Skinner (@kat_skinner) on

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:

The Lonely Barn

The Lonely Barn - a watercolor painting by Kat Skinner.

Another practice painting in watercolour. Each time I paint I learn something new and find ways to improve.

In this painting I focused on under glazing – essentially how a layer of paint underneath the rest can add warmth and cool tones to the painting.

I began painting from the background forward, making each next layer slightly more intense and warmer in color. I made sure to fade the colors out towards the bottom of each hill to keep the impression of mist.

I allowed the paint to bloom on the hills to create the effect of trees without going into too much detail.

I then began to paint the cottage and foreground details. To break up a solid foreground I added some basic grass textures.


French Rose

Travelling to France on holiday. I had hoped to have time to sit down in parks and sketch/paint, but surprise surprise we walked non-stop. At the very end of the trip, when I collapsed in absolute exhaustion, I had a brief chance to do a few little sketches. One of them was this Rose that I photographed in Jardin Des Plants (Garden of Plants) in Paris.

Since it was just a quick sketch, I didn’t focus so much on depth or value, but just throwing some color down to go along with the pen lines.

Working On The Waterfall

This painting is an older one, before I learnt about negative painting techniques (I think this painting would greatly benefit from using negative rather than positive painting).

Again I used my preferred brand of watercolour tube paints – Daniel Smith. The colors used are Pyrrol Blue (green shade), Burnt Sienna, Pyrrol Green (Blue Shade), and Quinacridone Gold.

The first task was painting the first layer of water and the background. I painted a light wash of Pyrrol Blue for the body of water, and combined Burnt Sienna to change the shade to a more brownish-grey color.

The next step was adding the moss on top of the rocks. I recently discovered that I love how salt textures on watercolour paper, so I used a lot of salt to try and create an interesting appearance. The moss was painted in Pyrrol Green, Quinacridone Gold and Burnt Sienna.

I then focused on painting the grey rocks. I used Pyrrol Green mixed with varying mixtures of Burnt Sienna and Indian Red. Why Pyrrol Green? Because the rocks were quite wet, they often had moss growing on them in very fine layers, thus I was happy for the rocks to have a green tinged color to them.

Here is where I added the background trees. It was at this point that I realised I wasn’t happy with how they turned out. I previously hadn’t practiced negative painting for foliage, however this frustration definitely fuelled more research and practice into the point.

Over all I wasn’t that happy with how this painting turned out, but every time you apply brush to paper, you learn something new.

Working on The Tranquil Cottage Painting

The Cottage - a watercolour painting by Kat Skinner.

For the tranquil cottage painting I used high-quality artist quality paint from the brand Daniel Smith to create a semi-realistic appearance. Daniel Smith paints have a wonderful consistency to them, making painting an absolute pleasure; they are super creamy and can achieve both bright and dark colors and tones.

The colors used in this painting were Indian Red, Burnt Sienna, Pyrrol Blue (Green Shade) and Cerulean Blue.

Hansa Yellow Medium, Quinacridone Gold, Pyrrol Green (Blue Shade).

I started off with a pen and ink line drawing:

#Sketch in pen for my latest #watercolour #watercolor featuring a country cottage type building.

A post shared by Kathleen Skinner (@kat_skinner) on

I then began to add the clouds in the background. I wanted these fairly ominous and dark to highlight the building in front of it.

The colors I used to paint the sky were Indian Red, Burnt Sienna, Pyrrole Blue (Green Shade) and Cerulean Blue.

Whilst the sky was drying, I began to paint the foreground with Buff Titanium, Quinacridone Gold, Raw Umber, Indian Red, Goethite and Pyrrole Blue (Green Shade).

After allowing the entire painting to dry overnight, I returned to paint the mid ground area (the background trees and the building). The colors I used were Quinacridone Gold, Quinacridone Rose, Pyrrol Green (Blue Shade) and Pyrrol Blue (Green Shade).

I then continued painting towards the foreground foliage. These I warmed up (colors wise) with Hansa Yellow Medium, Quinacridone Gold, Indian Red, Pyrrol Green and Pyrrol Blue.


If you liked reading how I went about painting The Tranquil Cottage, please leave me a comment to let me know.

If you want to buy a print of this painting, check out my Etsy Store.