Painting Action - moving objects - speed

Someone asked me recently how I manage to put Movement and Speed in a painting.
Thought it best to use this painting of a running dog to explain

1.  Firstly, The Angle is important  - For this example I have chosen for the dog to be racing downhill, so I haven't drawn it 'straight/flat across the page', but sloping down with the dogs back slightly higher.
2.  Also note that the dog is almost running 'Off the page' - this indicates speed to the viewer.
3.  The hind legs are raised a little.
4.  I prepared the paint and did the brush strokes quickly with All the Brush Strokes go to the left.  
5.  There are also 'action lines', which indicate movement.

~ Hope this is a useful tip for you all ~

Painting eyes

It can seem like a daunting thought, how to successfully paint eyes. Well, I'm here to tell you it is only in the detail and that DOES NOT HAVE TO BE DIFFICULT.
Here's an example from a little sketch I did of Hamish the cocker spaniel.

The viewer is drawn to the eyes, as we are with faces generally.  In this example it looks complicated, but here's a close-up to show you it is purely small hints of colour and leaving some white paper.

Sometimes the things that seem to be the most difficult
are the easiest.

Sketch to final drawing

Sketching can be as complicated as you want to make it.
Firstly, find the idea OR you may have the subject in front of you.
Next, put pencil to paper,
and when you are happy with it,
start to add paint.
Ending up with a piece of art that could either be Sold OR mostly with sketching, 
just saved and shared online.

The point I'm getting to is,  keep drawing and painting -
your hand/eye co-ordination will improve immensely over time.


Don't throw out those scraps of paper!
It is always worth keeping them
1.  For testing paint colours
2. Ideas 
Gives you the opportunity to see, small time, how a larger piece could work



It appears that I haven't added a useful blogpost here since October and it's now December.  The time seems to fly by me and I have trouble keeping up.  Although it does mean that I have been very busy painting and having holidays and that's good.    Well anyway, I'm here now, so that's got to be a good thing hasn't it?

Here's some guidance notes as to how I went about  this recent painting

I painted this watercolour which measures 12" x 9".  Firstly, let me say that this is on Rough Fabriano Artistico 140lb paper.  It handles the wet-into-wet and is such a lovely technique don't you think!

Wetting the paper firstly with clear water and then, having already mixed my sky wash (French Ultramarine Blue) I dropped the paint into the dampened paper...ahhhh Bliss.  I worked my way down the sheet in a similar fashion, doing only the background ~ waited until it had all COMPLETELY DRIED before I painted William, with a mix of French Ultramarine Blue+…

Oh my...didn't realise it's been so long since I last added any posts here!!!

So, just in case anyone still stops by
here's something about one of my favourite sketchbooks
I have bought the last couple of sketchbooks via Amazon, 
although Seawhite of Brighton
have their own website (I've actually visited their shop, they have loads of stuff there)
The concertina sketchbooks have good quality paper the take watercolour well.
When you have completed one side,
you simple turn it around and go the other way.
Now, there's an interesting thing.  When you turn the book and go back filling a new side, you aren't painting on the Back of the previous drawings....the pages in the sketchbook are Double sided, which helps prevent any marker pens bleeding through your previous drawing (marker pens tend to do that sometimes, so be aware).

Here's the book opened out

A useful tip, when you start using your book
1.   Mark it on the front with a small symbol
otherwise, each time you go to use it, you will be turning it around and around trying to f…

Using a Khadi Paper sketchbook

The thing with sketchbooks, is you need good paper.  It really does make all the difference to a decent sketch.  So you can image how challenging aKhadi-paper sketchbook can be.  Not only is the paper roughly textured, but it swallows up watercolour like there is no tomorrow!

However, there is always a Solution 
and for this sketchbook I prepared some pages with gesso.
This will enable me to use acrylics for sketching ideas.

Prep with grey gesso and below white/burnt sienna mix
As the gesso dries permanent, this makes it an ideal surface for acrylic paints - of course, you could also prepare the pages with White gesso, I just chose not to.

Not all pages are gessoed though. I have also painted directly on the white pages with acrylics -  rough 'blocking in' idea for a future painting.
They remind me where I want to go with a large canvas.

This sketchbook is proving to be worth its weight in gold.


Starting a sketch

Sketching a subject that may seem complicated, can actually be split down into simple lines.
As with this painting of William in the sea.
Here's my initial outline, I kept it Simple

then outlined William with ink pen
and then added watercolour

As you see, it is a simple sketch.
With the sea, I put on one layer of watercolour and waited for that to dry, then added a slightly darker tone - again waited for that to dry  and finally a few dabs of much darker blue.


Stop and sketch

I had a little time to spare in town the other day, so decided to stop for  coffee.  That gave me a chance to OBSERVE people...and get some quick sketches done.  Certainly focuses the hand eye co-ordination when people constantly move AND move quickly.  You just have to go for it.  If you don't achieve the sketch, then be happy with what you have on paper, but try to REMEMBER  the person, then very often you can complete the sketch.
My sketch below was just the initial outline, enough information on shape and angle.  As the two people I had decided to capture, were still at their table, it gave me time to put in more detail.
However, if they had moved away, my initial sketch was enough for me to go from that and get at least something reasonable.

So with the extra detail - then watercolour added when I got home - here's my completed drawing 

Where I originally put the first figures, is where they remained, I built up the rest of the sketch from them.

🎨 🎨 🎨

Blocking in Shapes

Wow!!!   I took a break from adding Tips and Techniques  - Hadn't realised it was so long...
It can get rather confusing when you are faced with drawing something busy ~ like this scene

Don't get caught up in DETAIL,


When you have the Block shapes in place,
you can THEN go in with the Detail.

It's a strange but true fact.......

..... the MORE you try to get something RIGHT in a painting


if you paint something WRONG
the more it looks

~ go figure ~

It has been a while since I posted a TIP AND TECHNIQUE

Here's a question somebody asked recently about skin tone
Question: "What colours do you use in watercolour for skin tones?"
For me, it is always BURNT SIENNA
(Winsor & Newton in my opinion have the best tone of this colour and  I use it regularly.

In the above example I have tried to show the varying tones that can be achieved with clear water added.

(please note that some artists find other manufacturers just as good, but in my humble honest opinion the W & N one wins hands down)

Another technique for painting trees

Everyone has their own method for painting trees, but getting started for some can be difficult.
Here's one of my techniques, which in fact is used a great deal by watercolour artists, in the past Wesson and Seago used this style and current days,  J. Bowden and John Hoar.

The technique is to add JUST SUFFICIENT PAINT to you brush, so as not to swamp it.
If you feel there is TOO MUCH pigment on the brush, then just wipe it
gently over a piece of tissue paper...WITHOUT REMOVING too much.
This all comes down to practise and getting
that 'Feel' for your paint brush.


 paint with the SIDE OF THE BRUSH, not the tip.

You are after a DRY BRUSH EFFECT without it being too dry.

Here's a quick demo showing you,
but in the end it all comes down to



The packaging & Demo using Derwent Inktense Blocks

I've already mentioned Inktense blocks, and in this blog post I thought I would add a video using some.

In fact I have now got a set of 72, so lots of colours to play with.  Before I get to the video, let me show you the packaging of these blocks...

They are packaged in plastic trays,  one layer above the other...

 A good way to keep them, but lifting the top set of colours can be a little difficult.
They come with a cardboard separator, I have glued the cardboard to the bottom of the top set,  that keeps the plastic tray firm -

Then I glued a piece of ribbon to the cardboard which then makes a helpful handle to lift them out with.

Here's my quick demo using some of these colours.

When the ink dried, I then added some extra details...

Fun and easy to use.

Warm and Cool tones in paintings

The balance of a painting....

This is part of a blog post I added a couple of years ago to my main blog (, but I thought it would be helpful here too.

Warm and Cool tones in paintings. 

My example is this sketch of Barnstaple bridge.
Pen + watercolour  plus I added a small amount of detail with my Sailor Calligraphy pen

Note:   The majority of this painting is in cool tones:
So to balance that out I added the warm red stripe on the boat.
Equally, if a painting is mainly warm tones, then offset it with some COOL colours
It all helps the BALANCE of a painting.


Making waves the simple way

First some watercolour...

Let this dry.  Then add a slightly Darker tone of the same colour, basically less water more pigment...

If you want more obvious Waves, then just emphasise the shape,  as seen in the bottom part of the next example.
When completely dry  add White GOUCHE - I used a flat brush for this

There you go Simple Waves

Derwent Inktense Blocks

Quick intro to Derwent Inktense Blocks
...I've had these for some time but only just got around to doing a colour swatch! 

These are INK in a block but can be used like watercolours - the best of both worlds if you ask me.

 (Inktense - Ink - intense colour = Inktense).

I've obviously got the tin with 12 colours, but do come in bigger packs with more colour choice.

The only thing I would say, they don't appear to have the colours named. I have found a number on them though, so perhaps that's how Derwent deal with it.

I intend to do a demo using them soon.

French Ultramarine Blue .v. Ultramarine Blue

Ever noticed that some paint manufacturers have
FRENCH Ultramarine Blue and also Ultramarine Blue
ever wondered what the difference is.

Well it's simple.  
FRENCH Ultramarine Blue is a purer, higher quality pigment paint
Ultramarine Blue
it is more student grade (just as good but if you want to sell your artwork then you should be using the better quality paints)

Mixing New Colours from those you already have

So you have a few colours in your collection, most of us have.  Some colours may be missing like SEPIA or VANDYKE BROWN, even BURNT UMBER.
Well, if you have Raw Umber, Ultramarine Blue and Burnt Sienna....these will give you those missing colours.

Here's how...




Go on, give this a try and see the outcome,  so easy to add to your collection of paints this way.

When watercolour and sketchbooks don't mix

Graphite sketch - "William"

This sketchbook doesn't like watercolour. Quite simply the watercolour seems to disappear on the pages
Solution: use graphite or pen.

You see, when something doesn't pan out, you just alter the way you use it.

When your graphite has become a stub

You know how it is, you keep sharpening your pencils and they end up as a little itty bitty stub - what do you usually do - Yes, you give up and throw them away.  Well, hang on and check this out.

SAVE those plastic covers that come with brand new brushes...most people chuck them,

Don't,  as you  need to save them,
they are useful...

(some of you will have seen this clip already on Facebook)


Brand new brushes

Just a quick tip here :

When you buy a brand new brush (and oh isn't that great) remember to put it in some clear water for 2 or 3 minutes first...let it sit and soak up the water.   Brand new brushes have a coating on them, it holds them together before use, so you need to release that first.

You will see when the brush has relaxed and soaked up some water, you will then be able to use it with your paints.


It's all a matter of Observation

Easily said - easily forgotten
That certainly goes for painting.
As Artists we tend to observe the world slightly differently from others,
but we don't always remember to Look
Looking AROUND US at the every day  what do we actually miss!
....example was our sun brolly in the garden....
"Was it really LOOKING at ME"!
 Easily missed, but made me THINK.

Applying Masking Tape

The usual recommendation for adding masking tape to paper, is place it on your clothes takes off the excess stickiness and allows you to remove the tape from the paper without tearing it.

Although a problem with that method is, you can often lift the pile from the clothes onto the tape...not so good.

I find it better to run your hands over the masking tape, that takes off the excess stickiness very effectively and the tape still comes off the paper easily.

~ job done ~

Never mix paint with your best brush

If you have special brushes - i.e. kolinsky sables or even mixed synthetics with very good points

see pics...

You really will not want to be ruining those beautiful pointy tips.  I can assure you, if you start mixing paint with them, those tips will be no more!    Always mix your paint with a lesser brush, sometimes I use a very cheap oil bristle brush or similar, for mixing paint.  That way it doesn't matter if the brush gets ruined.

Showing Light

When you want to emphasise a Light area, you have to put a contrasting Dark area next to it.   Obviously this works in reverse too.
This sketch shows how that works....