Thursday, July 3, 2014

Step by Step… watercolor

I'm sooo excited to be doing a series of blog posts about this 
fun, fun, loosey, goosey outta control process of watercolor!
Frequently, I've been asked about my process...
the paint I use, the palette, my signature block 
and…. most often, how I get my colors.

 What better place to share then here!
Above is a selection of brushes that I use on a regular basis.
There are a couple of pricey brushes here, as well as a few inexpensive ones. 
I am a big proponent for trying different supplies to find what feels best to you... 
In my experience… I generally see, that quality 
does matter with those end results.

From left to right: 
Cotman square wash 1"
Royal & Langnickel (2 of them) 1/2" angle
Loew-Cornell #10 filbert
Windsor & Newton 1" angle
Princeton Neptune #4 quill 
Isabey #12 Squirrel Mop 
all watercolor brushes…

In a nutshell… the square brush is for making background washes, 
and strands of color.
The two angle brushes are cheaper brushes that I use for most of my small sketches. 
I love the shape, as it allows for a thick or thin stroke. 
They are great for glazing colors. 
Because they are inexpensive… I usually keep a few on hand.
The filbert brush is great for smaller work too. 
It feels good to use on curved shapes and smaller solid areas.
The 1" angle serves the same purpose as the smaller brushes, 
just covering a larger surface.
And lastly… the quill and mop brush allow for loading up of water & color 
 to achieve a loose wash, or free form shape, 
or mingling of color…
whatever your fancy.

For anyone that likes more detailed info about brushes, 
their content, shape and purpose...
I've included a couple of helpful links below.          

and… the palette...
and… the paint...

My paints are a selection of Holbein and Windsor & Newton 
with an occasion random tube thrown in.
I think I found a couple of Yarka brand 
(really dated paint that I've had for a long long time) 
and a few Sennelier in my repertoire. 
For the most part 
I am a Holbein-Windsor & Newton kind of chick.
I tend to like Holbein brand a lot, 
because they are more saturated and brilliant in color. 

Holbein Artists' Watercolors are imported from Japan. 
Holbein's colors are known for their brilliance, 
with clean and crisp characteristics. 
Their content is designed in a way, that makes them 
ideal for preserving brushstrokes 
and color vigor over long periods of time.

The Windsor & Newton's are my standard, base… welcome home… 
I'm here for you paints.
They are known for their incredible quality and permanence as well.
Between the two, I've found the flexibility to make some luscious colors.
Definitely check out the new Windsor & Newton website
It's chock full of art supply information, 
as well as ways to connect with community
and share in the artists gallery.
I've been asked many times about my palette color choices.
Funny… I know it looks like I'm ready for a refill on the one above...
but I'd be remiss in not mentioning how long these colors last.
I love using this small palette for sketching 
I have a large palettes with big wells, for larger paintings.
This is one of my favorites for watercolor sketching right now.
The pages take layering of color… "glazing"... pretty well for a sketchbook. 
You can definitely see that the paper is substantial with a nice tooth for grabbing the color.
I have yet to try the Zeta series which is a smoother sheet.
And for the finale…Drum roll please…
my palette colors….
lemon yellow (H)
cadmium yellow(WN)
cadmium red orange (H)
windsor orange (WN)
cadmium red deep (H)
quinacridone gold (WN)
burnt sienna (H)
yellow ochre (H)
alizarin crimson (WN)
rose madder (H)
quinacridone magenta (WN)
prussian blue (H)
indigo (WN)
mineral violet (H)
cobalt blue (WN)
leaf green (H)
paynes grey (H)
permanent violet (H)
viridian (WN)
turquoise blue (H)
cobalt turquoise light (WN)
permanent green (H)
terre verte (H)
and a few extras… lilac, brilliant pink, lavender, cobalt violet light all (H)
a little sketch… a little water… and a beginning layer of wash starts the process.
I'll be breaking down the steps 
on how I do a color-FULL veggie sketch on the next post.

I hope this has been helpful! 
haPPy summer sketching!

Check back if you're interested… 
or join this blog site by signing up on google connect. 
(to sign up- see connect block in left column.)


  1. Absolutely lovely, Valerie! Thanks for all the photos too. I have just discovered the Princeton quill brush -- love it! Eagerly waiting for the next installment.

  2. Really wonderful info! I am a recent Daniel Smith convert myself and I now understand the excitement they generate!! Watercolors themselves are too much fun!! My advice is to forget all your childhood watercolor experiences and begin fresh and new!

  3. Wow, wow, wow- this is a fabulous site Valerie- so beautifully put together- I will be a regular visiter here for sure!


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