Yes! I’m finally talking about MORE than brush lettering! I still love lettering, but I definitely create 😉 more than letterings these days, so I’m going to tell you all about those other things too. Hopefully, you enjoy this content as much as my old posts!
So let’s talk about watercolour! It’s officially my new-old love, and I want to tell you all about the materials, my goof-ups and also my all-time favourite watercolour book!
Watercolour for Dummies
Before I started watercolour, I figured I just needed art block paper, some watercolours and a brush or two. If you have any art experience at all, you’re probably laughing your ass off at me! In my defence, Art was never a priority in school for me!
Those tools are fine. They worked great for lettering, since art block paper is pretty smooth, but when I tried to paint a galaxy for the first time? That was a nightmare! Obviously, something was wrong.
So I did what I always do when I have an artistic problem: I whined to my baby sister. She stared at me like I was an idiot. Then gave me a VERY long lecture on the different types of paper and paints. We didn’t get into brushes — not that day, anyway.
I quickly learnt that there were specific pads of paper for watercolour. If I was gonna be loading up tons of water on the page, I’d better tape the darn thing down and use really cold-pressed or rough paper of at least 300gsm.
My watercolours weren’t showing up dark enough? Well that’s what happens when you use very cheap paint. They don’t have enough pigment. I needed better paint.
I fell down the watercolour rabbit hole.
You know how I bought tons of brush pens because I needed to try them all and figure out what I like? I didn’t go to that extreme with watercolours — paints are way more expensive than a brush pen — but I did end up trying a whole bunch of things.
One of my first tasks was to get some dry watercolours that didn’t suck. I already have some bottles of Ecoline liquid watercolours from brush lettering, but those were a different ball game altogether.
I wanted something drier + easier to mix, so I decided to go traditional. That’s where the Sakura Koi Watercolour Pocket Field Sketch Box came in! It was way more pigmented than my cheap crappy palette and small enough to be carried around easily. I even took it to Thailand with me on holiday!
But I got sick of it. I kept having to mix shades of turquoise, pink and purple. That got old fast, especially with such a tiny space for mixing!
Building my own palette!
And so I realised baby sis was right: buying tubes of the colours I like and squeezing them into a palette made TONS more sense than a store-bought ‘preset’ palette.
(I still haven’t heard the end of the ‘I told you so’s.)
But really. The standard palettes are pretty awesome if you need a starting place, but once I limited myself to this set of primary colours — plus Sap Green and a purple… I really started having fun!
See, having so few colours forces you experiment and mix until you get the shade you want.
Besides, artist grade paints are not cheap. A little goes a long way because of how intensely pigmented they are, making them more worth it than student grade. But it’s just much cheaper to figure out how to mix a colour than to buy a specific tube 😉
Obviously, I’ve grown my palette since then, adding some purples and Opera Rose from Winsor Newton, and some pastels from Holbein. And of course, a tube of turquoise — I can’t live without that colour! 💕
Learning to paint with Everyday Watercolor
At my request, baby sis preordered Everyday Watercolor by Jenna Rainey for my Christmas present! ICYDK I’ve been a huge fangirl of Jenna’s work since I came across it on Instagram, so when I found out she had a book… Well, I just had to have it!
It arrived early, so I ended 2017 by finishing the book!
I love the concept of this book because it’s so structured! Over the course of 30 days, you are guided through 28 paintings that teach you super basic things — like shapes and wet-on-wet/wet-on-dry techniques. After that, it gets more complicated ’cause it’s about painting wildlife and landscapes!
All the techniques and steps are broken down so anyone can paint it! Plus Jenna gives the exact colours she uses — and she using Winsor Newton watercolours, which is a pretty common brand IMO — so following the instructions is no hardship at all!
The part I love most about this book is how it tells you how approximately how long each day’s painting will take! It’s a great if you need to schedule everything like me!
Of course, you don’t have to do it all at one go! I did 6 days at the end of October before I flew to Japan, then picked up the remaining 24 days worth of painting in December. Just for fun, I used this SeaLemon bookbinding tutorial to bind my paintings together into a book to look back on in a year or so!
My next watercolour project: Florals!
Now that I kinda sorta learnt some basics, I want to apply all that to learning how to draw and paint loose and more detailed florals!
Any tips for me?
I think it’ll definitely involve revisiting a few Everyday Watercolor lessons and tons of practice, but I’m pretty eager to try out something new! Of course, there a whole bunch of other things I want to illustrate with watercolours in my journals as well, but baby steps first!