Painting with Carol

Techniques, tips and tricks for watercolours and acrylics

Archive for the 'Watercolours' Category

Can you find the fairies in this this painting?

October 29th, 2011 | Category: Carol's paintings, Watercolours

watercolour1, originally uploaded by Swandives.


Upcoming workshop: Hollyhocks

October 23rd, 2009 | Category: Watercolours, Workshops

I thought I would let you know I have been asked to give a watercolour workshop on 21st November 2009 at Ellenvale Cottage. The address is:

2/7 Kurrajong Road (Cnr. Plasser Cres)
North St Marys
NSW 2760

Email address:

Phone Number is: 02 96230921

I have painted with the girls at Ellenvale cottage many times and over the years we have become good friends. It will be so nice to see them all again and I guess it will be my last workshop before Christmas. It is hard to believe that Christmas is so close. My grand-daughter is already writing out her Christmas list.

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Watercolour workshop: Hollyhocks

October 23rd, 2009 | Category: Carol's paintings, Watercolours, Workshops

Hollyhock, originally uploaded by Swandives.


Top 5 watercolour questions

I often find the same questions crop up again and again during my classes so I thought I’d create a quick list of the most common things my students ask. They’re in no particular order and if you have your own questions, feel free to add them to the end.

QUESTION 1: What side of the watercolour paper should I be using?

It is hard to keep this answer short. I could write so much about paper as every artist has a favourite kind of paper. There are three main textures:

  • Rough
  • Cold-pressed
  • Hot-pressed

Each is used for different types of painting. Rough paper has the most “tooth” (kind of like goosebumps on the paper) and is used mostly for landscapes. It’s good if you are painting water - if you run your brush over the surface of the paper you can see the paint adhere to the elevations and it will leave the depressions sparkling white as if the sun is hitting the top of the water. I use hot-pressed paper if I am doing any fine detail work, such as lace work which is done with a liner brush. I have found it is not so good if you intend to apply many washes. My favourite kind of paper is Arches cold-pressed, 300G/M. I find it an ideal all-purpose paper. I mostly choose to paint on the smooth side of the paper but it doesn’t matter which side you choose, either side is equally suitable for paint. Some manufacturers place their watermark on the paper and I always tell my students that if the watermark is raised, it is the right side to use.

QUESTION 2: When taping the paper to the board, should I tape all the way around?

Yes, you should tape on all four sides.¬†When I paint I am inclined do repeated washes, I find that wet watercolour paper tends to buckle, especially if you use a lightweight paper. It’s one of the reasons I use 300G/M - you will find it will only buckle slightly when it is wet but it will settle when dry. If, by chance, the tape does lift a little with the water, don’t be tempted to take it off until you have finished with the washes as it will leave a mark on your painting that cannot be removed.

QUESTION 3: What sort of palette should I use?

These days a watercolour palette is not such an expensive item to buy and can easily be picked up at any art store, or even the cheap $2 shops that are around. Do, however, pick a palette that has many wells in it. If the colours you mix run in to each other they become contaminated and can create “mud”. Personally, I like a palette that has a lid. They are of course a little more expensive but I think it is worth it as it stops the paint from drying out completely. I have many palettes as I never wash away the paint - I clean the palette often with a damp cloth or even a paper towel and this way I can use the left over paint months later.

QUESTION 4: What brushes should I buy?

Good watercolour brushes are expensive but the old saying “you are only as good as the tools you use” is exactly right. For many years I struggled with inferior brushes, so I do know.¬†Cheap brushes will not hold a point because the hairs will separate and they won’t hold enough water or paint. They also break down quickly, which can be very frustrating indeed. If you care for your brushes properly, they will last for many years, so I think buying good brushes is a good investment. Try asking for a new watercolour brush for your birthday or Christmas. I would rather have a new brush than a new bra, or a bottle of perfume any day. I will list the brushes I use - for washes I use a number 12 Squirrel mix oval brush, or a number 7 Raphael 803. For general work, I use I use a number 6 Raphael, although I have been using a cheaper version called Rekab 900E Sable-Ester Israel. I also use a number 4 Sable-Ester Israel. For very fine work I use No 3 Raphael 8404. If you are on a budget, however, try a Large Fan brush or a Japanese Hake brush for your washes and the Japanese bamboo brushes also work quite well.

QUESTION 5: How do I care for my brushes?

I would am asked this question every time I teach. After I’ve made the case for buying good brushes I can understand why you would like to know how to care for them. I suggest you use your watercolour brushes only for watercolours. Rinse them in clean water after each painting cession, and shape them to their shape, a “round brush with a point” or “flat or oval brush to a flat or oval”. Make sure they dry to the shape - I usually put them upside down in a glass to dry. Never leave brushes standing in water. If you still have some stubborn pigment left in the brush after rinsing, it can be removed with a little warm water and soap. I also use an amazing brush cleaner that is put out by Chroma Australia that is simply called “Incredible Brush Cleaner”. I swear by it. When carrying your brushes I have found it better to roll them - if you don’t have a paint roll, you can just roll them in a hand towel or, better still, add a paint roll to your present list.

So there you have it. Have I missed anything out? Let me know and I’ll see what I can do to answer your questions.


Poppies pattern packet

March 05th, 2009 | Category: Carol's paintings, Pattern packets, Watercolours

Poppies watercolourI promised a new pattern packet and here it is.

Poppies watercolour tracing


Still alive

October 15th, 2008 | Category: Family, Watercolours, Workshops

The problem with owning a blog is keeping it updated in order for it to remain interesting. I am not sure that I have a lot to tell you as I haven’t been painting at all lately -¬† it has been the school holidays and at the moment I am lucky enough to have my eight year old grand-daughter staying with us. What a joy she is to have around! I just love being a Nanna and I try to make the most of it while she still wants me around to do things with her.

There is much to be done over the holidays when you are eight and it’s so much better if you have a friend stay over. Thank goodness the weather was perfect for going to the beach, the water was a bit cold to stay swimming for too long but when you are young there is so much to discover in the rock pools. We came home with a bucket full of shells, star fish, hermit crabs, bits of glass washed smooth all that good stuff.

I have also become the cupcake queen, decorated by the girls with bright green and hot pink icing. We spent¬†four days with my mum, who is ninety now and we like to spend as much time with her as we can whilst we still have her around. We¬†went to the theatre to see a production of Just Macbeth, written for children by Andy Griffith. It was a lot of fun and on the way home in the car I asked Zoe to tell me the story of Macbeth. She said, “I am not sure if I understood it all,” but when she told me the story in her words, she was spot on. Would I have¬†understood Shakespeare at that age? I don’t think so.

All in all the school holidays were fun. School started Monday so it is back to normal again. So I am trying to get back in to painting, even though I have been painting for so many years I still find it hard to get back in to the swing of it after a break.

I am lucky enough to be sponsored by Chroma, and they have asked me to design some Christmas cards using their iridescent colours, which I thought it would be a breeze. Not so! They have to be very simple so that anyone including non-painters can do them. I am inclined to fuss too much - I add a bit here and a bit there, so I have to discipline myself. But I am on the way and things are starting to take shape.

This weekend I am going to be the student for a change. I belong to The Sutherland Arts Society and every year they have a Paint-a-thon. I treat myself to painting with other well-known artists. I learn so much - I have always encouraged my own students to paint with as many teachers as they can, as everyone has something to offer. I am so looking forward to it, I have three days of painting watercolours with Ross Paterson. I will take photos for my blog if I am allowed.

Also, I will be teaching the Pink and grey galahs down the south coast at Batemans Bay on the 25th of October.

Well I should get back to painting Christmas cards. Talk soon!

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Painting at Rosewood in pictures

June 26th, 2008 | Category: On the road, Watercolours, Workshops

Workshops at RosewoodVictoria workshops May June 2008
Victoria workshops 2008Students at Rosewood workshop

I took these¬†photos during the workshops at Rosewood.¬†I had a wonderful time teaching everybody.¬†I haven’t included names but if you’re in these photos, please add a comment!


Free pattern packet

May 26th, 2008 | Category: Carol's paintings, Pattern packets, Watercolours


It has taken a while, but here is the promised free pattern packet of the gum blossoms watercolour. This is a beginner pattern so it’s a good starting point. There are two parts to the pattern packet:

  • The tracing. Download the file here. It’s currently A4 size, so you will need to enlarge it to A3 and print it out onto tracing paper. If your printer doesn’t do sizes larger than A4, take it to a print and copy centre such as Kinkos - they should be able to enlarge it and print it onto tracing paper.
  • A step-by-step instruction guide.

Both are PDF documents so you will need a reader such as Adobe Reader in order to view them.
Get Adobe Reader


Camels in watercolours

March 26th, 2008 | Category: Carol's paintings, Watercolours

Here’s my latest watercolour of camels. I am working on another at the moment.

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Watercolour paints

March 11th, 2008 | Category: Art supplies and equipment, Watercolours, colour

There is an incredible range of watercolours out there, which can be quite daunting to a beginner. When I first started I wasn’t sure what colours I should buy first or what brand of paint to buy. It is very easy and very expensive to buy 25-35 colours but I personally think it is simpler to work with a limited palette of about 12-15 colours.

You must be able to mix your own colours to become a good painter. You will find it fun - this way you will also discover hundreds of hues. I think one of the most important things to remember is:

only buy artist quality paint.

I am going to give you some of the colours that I mostly use in my paintings and that you will also need if we are going to paint together. You will find that once you get started you will want to learn more and more about colour; I still go to other artists’ workshops to learn new techniques. You will find every artist has different colours that they love and use. I encourage everyone to do the same.

The colours I use most are: 

  • BLUES: French Ultramarine, Cerulean Blue
  • GREENS: Sap Green Permanent, Olive Green Permanent, Australian Leaf Green Dark
  • YELLOWS: Lemon Yellow, Cadmium Yellow, Aureolin, Yellow Ochre
  • REDS: Pilbara Red, Spectrum Crimson, Rose Madder, Cadmium Red
  • EARTH TONES: Warm Sepia, Burnt Sienna, Payne’s Grey.

As far as the BRAND of paint to buy: I use Art Spectrum. Of course, there are many other wonderful brands of paint but as I live in Australia I like to think I am doing my bit towards our economy, be it ever so small. I also like the the vibrancy of the Art Spectrum colours which suits my style of painting.

I think we are almost ready to start a painting together.

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