Watercolour Workshop — February 2008

2008Article posted by Gilly

This workshop took place at Mal’s Art Studio in Whiteman Park, Caversham (I have works on display there). It was an incredibly hot day but the fourteen participants reported that they had a great time and they all produced very creditable works of art. My method of painting is very slow - although the hot weather assisted in the drying of pigment! - with many controlled glazes (washes) to achieve deep, rich colours.

I had sent a copy of my drawing and a photograph of the rose that I planned to paint to each of the participants suggesting that they could either trace my drawing and do the same painting as myself, or do a flower painting of their own choice, using similar tones and colours. Everyone elected to paint my rose!

It saved a lot of time that they arrived at the workshop with their support already stretched and dry and the rose traced onto it. We could immediately begin painting.


Drawing the detailed sketch first enabled me to work out my tonal values and positioning of elements, then this could be traced and transferred to the stretched watercolour sheet. Even though I use a heavy 300gsm medium rough watercolour support, I still like to stretch it as I hate working on a buckling surface and my initial washes are very wet. I prime each area that I’m going to paint with clean, distilled water and then drop in an initial wash of either Transparent Yellow or Alizarin, being very careful to preserve the white highlights. I don’t like to use masking fluid as the hard edges that result don’t suit my painting style, but I’m quite happy if other people prefer to use it. I’d much rather paint around the highlights - but that’s just because I like to fiddle!

The yellow underwashes create a beautiful glow beneath the subsequent layers of pigment.


If you want to see the finished painting - check out the roses’ tryptych under Florals in the Paintings Gallery. Called Spring Flush it’s the third image of the trio - I was pleased enough with it that I painted two more works to complement it and framed them as a tryptych.

PS - we did have two males attend the workshop, they were just too shy to be photographed!