Friday 10 March 2017


I'd been wanting to pick up a decent set of watercolours for a while. Had already bought a watercolour pad and sketched a pencil drawing ready for painting only to find my stash of watercolours had dried up in their tubes.

On the opening day of Bradbury Art's new premises at No4 Callender Street, Belfast, I called in and bought a set of W&N's Cotman watercolour pans with a water brush. It's a compact traveller set with no room for further pans but it's a good set to begin using this medium as it has a nice range of colours.

Alizarin Crimson, Diox Violet, Lemon Yellow Hue, Yellow Ochre, Sap Green, Viridian Hue, Ultramarine, Turquoise, Burnt Sienna, Chinese White, Paynes Grey, Lamp Black.

Colours ranged through warm and cool tones and I was especially happy to see it contained Paynes grey - watering down black doesn't always result in the right shade. As the pans are replaceable there is some room for personal choice. The colours when mixed with water are vibrant yet with a good transparency. At £19.99 I felt this little set was well priced though I probably could find it online for less. There is some satisfaction though about supporting a local business, not only investing in your community, but building up a relationship with your local art shop can benefit the artist with their wide knowledge of new products/mediums.

Pencil sketch had been drawn a few months earlier on a Daler Rowney Aquafine Texture 300g/m2 pad and was an adaptation of 'girl and bee' drawing. I wanted the watercolour application to be loose and soft so just before painting I erased a lot of the darker lines. The water brush was interesting to use. I didn't need to keep dipping the brush into water while painting. But the quality is not as good as sable or synthetic brushes I've used before. Handy to have if travelling but not ideal.

I laid down a base layer of colour and then worked layer after layer. The quality of paint was good as the transparency stayed as I worked and didn't become muddied. I really enjoyed making puddles of colour and allowing them to dry on top of other previous puddles. I was happy enough with this exercise and am keen to try using masking fluid with watercolour. If I would improve anything it would be the bee's wings which I should have left transparent, showing hints of face and flowers behind. Also I applied colour to the figure's neck and altered the shape which I tried remedying by building up a layer of white watercolour but it might have been more effective to use white gouache and then overpaint with watercolour.

Copyright © 2016 by Roisin O'Hagan/bloowabbit
All rights reserved. The artworks/illustrations or any portion thereof may not be reproduced or used in any manner whatsoever without the express written permission of the artist except for specific permission granted with a free downloadable.

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