SIX DAYS OF PAINTING NATURE IN WATERCOLOUR: 30 IN 30 PAINTING CHALLENGE, DAYS 19 TO 24

Things were a bit different for days 19 to 25 of Leslie Saeta’s 30 in 30 painting challenge … I decided to switch things up a bit and try my hand at producing watercolour nature paintings. The plan was to do them all outside, plein air style, but as you’ll see below, things didn’t quite work out like that :)

First, here’s the six Watercolour Nature Paintings I created :)

DAYS 19 TO 24

NATURE WATERCOLOUR PAINTINGS

DAY 19 • NATURE 1 at SALTRUM WOODS [Size: 21x13cm]
My first time ever painting outside :) I painted sitting next to my tree friend at Saltrum (Saltrum’s a local woods) and while I didn’t know what I was doing, I felt so happy :)

DAY 20 • NATURE 2 at LOCAL GRAVEYARD [Size: 21x13cm]
This one was a complete spur of the moment thing. I was riding my bike home from work, when I found myself mounting the pavement, and inside this little graveyard type place. In the centre, was this giant log … so I sat down and painted it :)

DAY 21 • NATURE 3 at SALTRUM with MY SISTER [Size: 21x13cm]
My favourite day of the challenge so far… the painting isn’t anything special, but day 21 saw me painting with my Sister for the first time ever. We meet at Saltrum, and sat for a few hours talking and painting; it was amazing :)

DAY 22 • NATURE 4 bringing it HOME [Size: 21x13cm]
Day 22 I had to visit my therapist at the Gender Clinic, so it was dark by the time I got home. This one, I painted inside just before bed, having found the sexy looking stick on the way home from work :)

DAY 23 • NATURE 5 still life at HOME [Size: 21x13cm]
England was hit by an insane cold spell, so cold, I just couldn’t paint outside. Instead, I went on a little hunt after work for nature type things, that put this still life together and painted away, nicely warm and cosy inside :)

DAY 24 • NATURE 6 fruit STILL LIFE [Size: 21x13cm]
My favourite painting from this six day chunk, and I feel like I finally started to understand how watercolours work :)

WHAT I’VE LEARNT

A week or so ago I realised it would most likely be unfeasible to take my oil paints, canvases etc. on my pushbike for outside painting like I originally planned, so I decided to use watercolours for this part of the challenge instead. The main thing I learnt, was that painting outside is challenging.

At first it wasn’t too bad, a bit windy, a bit strange, not having an easel to work on, but after the first painting, I felt like it was going to be ok. By day 21 though, things were starting to get a bit, aka a lot, cold … England got hit by a cold snap, it was so bad it felt like my fingers were going to snap off lol

In the end, instead of going out to paint nature, I bought nature home with me, into my nice warm room; it ended up being a nice balance :) Here’s some of the main things I learnt this past six days:

  • You have to be Adaptable to Paint Outside
  • Watercolour supplies are pretty Inexpensive
  • The best word to describe Watercolour painting is Randomness
  • Less is More with watercolours
  • Patience is required to build up the layers
  • Watercolour is way Less Messy than Oil Paints
  • You can Overlap Colours
  • It’s nice to Leave Some Areas of the Paper Showing, it creates a nice popping white
  • Composing a Still Life is Fun

WATERCOLOURS ARE TOTALLY DIFFERENT TO OILS

This was the first time I actually sat down and really found out how watercolours behave; turns out they behave totally differently to oils.

Whereas oils are: nice and thick, with the colours blending together in real time, being very forgiving. Watercolour is way more about: patience, waiting for layers to dry, planning ahead, being ok with colours blending into each other by ‘mistake’ and basically, using way less paint than you would expect.

I did a few more sketches before the one on day 19, and at first I was putting on so much paint. It all looked very flat and I realised I was doing it wrong. Over the next days I started using less and less paint, and more and more water. Realising that watercolours are much more about building up layers slowly, instead of trying to get the exact tone right away.

I really enjoyed it actually. Feels a lot more like doing a realistic pencil drawing that oil paintings, in that you have to start planning ahead more, working out what’s dark on light and visa versa. So much more patience is required too. While I do miss the messy and unforgiving nature of oil paints, watercolours have this nice simple feel, yet highly technical quality about them.

I could totally imagine doing a watercolour sketch every day for the rest of my life :)

Winsor & Newton Cotman Water colours Sketchers pocket box, Artist Sophie Lawson

MY WATERCOLOUR EQUIPMENT

I used two main bits of equipment:

  • A smallish 21x13cm Moleskine Watercolour Notebook,
  • and a Winsor & Newton Cotman Water colours Sketchers pocket box.

Both worked great, the sketchbook paper is so thick, it feels really nice, and I was able to paint on both sides no problem. The paints too were perfect, the lil paint brush is adorable, and the paints are all self contained in a lil palette that has just enough room for colour mixing.

I also used a 0.5 mechanical pencil with a 2H lead to quickly sketch out the painting, than went over the top with a Faber-Castell Medium sized PITT artist fineliner pen; both of these worked great too :) Something cool I did, was take a bottle of water in my bag, and use it to top up one of them mini jam jars with fresh water.

After each sketch I’d top the mini jam jar up with fresh water, and wipe the paint palette clean with a bit of kitchen paper. It ended up being a nice way of keeping everything fresh for each sketch :)

NEXT SIX DAYS

Days 25 to 30 are the final six days of the challenge, and I hadn’t assigned them any topic until a few days ago. However, after having so much fun with these watercolours, I got the idea of producing six lilSOPHiE watercolour sketches.

You can play along with this challenge by visiting Leslie Saeta’s 30 in 30 Painting Challenge and signing up :)

EVERYDAY’S A GOOD DAY WHEN YOU PAINT

Bob Ross