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C. S. Lewis

Painting Hydrangea Flowers Step by Step Tutorial

Posted by: Cathy

Tagged in: Untagged 


Hydrangea flowers have long been a favorite of mine.  It looks like a very complicated flower to draw or paint so I was delighted to find this tutorial which shows you very clearly and simply how to paint them.

The first step is to have a glance to real flowers. As you have a feeling about it it will be the best base to feel the same during drawing. This is the hydrangea I drew, and you can use any another pictures or from your own memory.

Draw by pencil or brush a group of hydrangea flowers you choose with several leaves near it.  Try to feel relaxed during the process.. it`s very easy: 4 simple petals per flower. You can also use that picture to copy and color it.

Paint out with white pencil (or watercolor) the ends of the petals as shown. If you draw on white paper use light pink color instead white.

On that picture you can use all colors you like. I choose dark-pink  to make the centre of petals.  Don`t worry about result, just do it. The point is to make strokes on the direction from centre to end of petals.

With a dark red color make several petals more lively. Not each one but several, you can choose it using own intuition.

With violet color make gaps between petals deeper. It`s a mistery how different colors creates the picture you can recognize as natural.

With white again, make smoother the edge between white ends of petals and another colors. That way you can feel better how to create the volume of hydrangea, do it the way you feel and enjoy the result.






Using orange to create sun spots on the petals, let the picture be impregnated with sunpower. Feel how the energy of colours flows from your fingers to the paper.

Use yellow in the same way.  As you do it, the image starts to radiate light.

Now we can start on the leaves. Use dark green pencil to draw the leaves as you see on the picture. It is easy but it is important to make strokes in the direction of natural veins of leaves.

Using medium green colour to make the veins of the leaves, make them a little darker.

Use yellow colour to make several strokes on the leaf and if you used aqua pencils then use waterbrush (or brush) to water the whole picture.  Do it carefully in the directions of the strokes.

As you see, water makes the picture more bright. If you use your brush carefully all strokes will keep their direction and the picture will look natural. You can finish on that step  if you like it.

Now it`s time to draw hydrangea`s background. It is created by several smears of aquarel (watercolors) with a brush. Several spots of pink colour, several of red and more spots of white and our eyes starts to discern another cluster of flowers at the back of the picture.

Make several long strokes with a brush with white aqua color for the leaves. Several long strokes with green colour creates the leaves on the back.

The final step is to create the illusion of movement. Make several short strokes with a brush with dark green colour.

...and several short strokes with a brush with yellow color as you see on the picture. Trust to your own intuition and feelings more and your result will be the best.


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Painting Birch Trees in Watercolors Tutorial

Posted by: Cathy

Tagged in: Untagged 


I'm currently painting a large diptych of birch trees so I've been trying to find reference materials.  I came across this great tutorial which I thought would be super useful for those of you that use watercolors.

Materials required are:

1. Photo reference for sketch and value study (strongly recommended).

2. Pencil, eraser, ruler, masking tape, old regular size bath towel (tightly rolled), 1/2 sheet (15" x 22") 300# 100% rag (cotton) Kilimanjaro watercolour paper.

3. Two water containers (one for clean and one for dirty water) - large plastic cottage cheese tubs are ok.

4. Paper towels and/or clean rag (to absorb excess water from brushes when necessary).

5. Board with non-porous surface (i.e. sheet of plexiglass approx 20" x 24"). A smooth non-porous table top will work well enough in the beginning, however, you will not be able to tilt or move it like you would a separate board.

4. Palette. If you are a beginner and don't want to become too heavily invested in equipment at this time you can use a white ceramic dinner plate for mixing your colours and a plastic ice cube tray to hold your pigments. It is best to fill the wells from tube pigments and allow them to dry out before your first session. Then, when you are ready to begin painting, mist the surface with a spray bottle, wait a few minutes, and they will be ready to use. I use a Robert E. Wood palette. The wells are large and the inside is divided into two large mixing areas. The lid also works as a palette for holding four smaller washes.

5. Brushes - 2" flat wash brush (this should be a watercolour brush - not acrylic or oil as they are too stiff and will damage the surface of the paper); 1" flat wash brush; plus at least one round - #9 or #6. When you begin painting on full sheets of paper, a 3" flat wash brush is advised.

6. Paints. These should be watercolour tube pigments. There are now manufacturers who make large quantity tubes (37ml.) of good quality watercolour paints. If you begin with a small selection of primary colours you should be able to mix anything you need and can add more to your palette as you begin to experiment. I use the following basic colours in these lessons:
watercolour palette

Red: Alizarin Crimson

Blues: Cobalt Blue; Ultramarine Blue; Prussian Blue

Yellows: Aureolin; Gamboge; Burnt Sienna

Step 1



Using the photograph provided (or, where not available, the photo of the completed painting) lightly sketch in the design on your watercolour paper. When painting your own compositions, you should always spend some time on thumbnail sketches, planning the arrangement of your shapes. Remember to vary the size and contours while creating a design that you can paint without too much difficulty. You want to have some fun during the painting...the journey is just as important as the destination.


Step 2

Thoroughly soak the paper by immersing it in a tub of water for about 5-10 minutes allowing the paper to stretch. This will open up the fibers of the paper letting the pigment settle, while reflecting the white of the paper towards the eye and thus creating the luminous look of stained glass. The final piece should look like a watercolour painting, not just a painting done with watercolour pigment.

Step 3

Holding your paper carefully by the corners, let excess water drip off and then place onto your board. Now, roll your towel over the paper several times. The paper should remain damp but not wet - all glisten or shine should disappear. You now have a workable surface which will allow you to easily achieve both hard and soft edges at will.

Step 4

Tape the edges to your board. The water trapped under the paper will allow a greater "window" of working time.

Step 5

I begin by mixing puddles of colour in the palette wells - ultramarine blue; rose madder genuine or alizarin crimson; burnt sienna. These puddles contain a fair amount of water, but still have enough pigment to be vivid on the palette. Remember, we are not trying to compete with nature. We haven't got a chance of coming out ahead. It is rather difficult to compete with a sunset or sunrise on a piece of paper 22" x 30", so we have to cheat a little by using colour to our advantage. Before I paint anything I always determine the colour and texture of the subject, then try to find the quickest way of getting the story told. If it is not life threatening - try it!

Step 6

I know there is colour in the birch. It has a rough texture and it has got a shape. we go. Pick up all three colours on a flat brush. I try to use the largest brush I have that will get the job done, and start applying a multicolour wash between the lines (if need be then also over the lines), then let all three colours mingle together on the paper.

Step 7

Vary the colour pattern from tree to tree by making one colour more dominant than the others. This will create a little more interest in the painting. Try and have fun with the colour patterns. You will be surprised how many different colours there are in a birch tree. As I said earlier, forget about staying between the lines. They are only a reference. The more relaxed you are with the brush, the better the results.

Step 8

This next step shows texture and roundness of the tree. Start by scraping or moving a puddle from one side of the tree to the other with a slight arc to the stroke. Clean the card or scraping tool after every stroke and start again. Begin your stroke outside the tree. Firmly pull the pigment to the other side. This is done while the paint is still wet. Results will vary depending on how wet or dry the paint is at this stage. You may need to practise on a scrap piece of paper a few times to get the pressure and timing right.

Step 9

Repeat Step #8, remembering to vary the width of your strokes (use cut up credit cards) and to leave some areas as originally painted. Refer to the photo of the finished painting. Where there are light/white areas, the paint has been scraped out by using the credit card technique.

Then, while the paint is still wet, flood in some darker and more intense colour (richer paint mixture - less water) to show the birch blisters.

Step 10

Pick a wet edge and deposit some pigment on the dry side of the edge. If you are touching both wet and dry areas simultaneously, you will get a hard edge on the outside of the tree and rich colour will bleed into your wet area giving a soft edge. An interesting combination.

Step 11

From these puddles on the paper..paint in some curved lines to show the roundness of the birch. We first identify the shape of the tree, determine the colour we choose to tell the story, then execute the texture.

Step 12

From either..the puddles on the paper...or from the palette..scrape/paint some branches in using a palette knife or a small brush. I prefer the knife as it gives a more "twiggy" natural look. The branches should really appear angular. After every growing season the branch takes off at a slightly different angle. The birch is a rather rugged, hearty tree and the angular strokes capture the character quite nicely.

Step 13

Now it is time for the finishing touches. This and the following steps require that you allow the paper to go have a cup of coffee...or use your blow drier if you are in a hurry.

Now, on dry paper, you can add more calligraphic marks - darker blisters - that will stay where you put them, instead of bleeding into other washes.

Step 14

After allowing your marks above to dry....

...mix a new clean puddle of ultramarine blue - lots of water. Then, using a flat brush, paint a stripe down the shadow side of each birch trunk (the side opposite the starting point of your scrape marks).

Step 15

With a fairly damp brush (not dripping) wet out (soften) the inside edge to show the gradual shadow. Let the painting dry once more.

Step 16

With a fairly strong mix of burnt sienna, glaze in a few areas for the final touch. These transparent brush strokes over the existing colours give quite an effect. We're not trying to compete with nature, just dress her up a bit.

And here it is! Enjoy!


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You want to turn your Art into a business?

Posted by: Wellydogdesigns

Tagged in: Untagged 



I wrote this a little while ago on my own blog and thought I would share with you now 

People are always saying how lucky I am that I managed to turn my hobby into a business.  I wont argue generally with that statement and I do have to pinch myself occasionally that I do indeed work for myself, doing something I love.  But I always get the impression that people feel I have an easy life.  To some extent then I will agree, as I truly believe the old saying,


"If you do a job you love, you never do a days work"

But I have also learnt a lot over the last year about what it takes to run your own business, so thought I would share some of it with you.......








When working out whether you can afford to take the plunge  don't just look at the monthly costs.  Think about those yearly costs like MOT's and insurance, take into account, birthday presents, christmas, petrol money to visit relatives etc...its amazing how much they add up.


Have a pot of money for emergencies,  when you  have no money everything will suddenly turn on you and break, in my case, the microwave blew up, the car windscreen got chipped and my clutch died.......


Everything costs more than you think, allow extra on everything.


I have worked out a weekly target.  Its the minimum I have to make every week to just stay in business,  its a great motivator.


Don't get sick or have family can't afford it.


Pay all your bills on time,  companies appear far less forgiving if they think you are a business.


Expect not to make any money in the first year,  anything you do make will go straight back into the business anyway.


Have more than one revenue stream. My teaching keeps me though the winter months and my selling through the summer when my students are on holiday.


Do your accounts weekly at minimum,  if I can I try and do them daily,  then you know where you stand all the time, and also no hassle looking for receipts etc at the end of the year




I would say have a good business plan and don't jump in until you know you are ready,  but I can't really, as I didn't do that,  but it is probably advisable. But if you are going to just do it,  don't just dip your toe in to test the water.  jump right in and commit totally.  as Master yoda says


"Do, or do not. There is no 'try.'"

Within reason try to never say NO.  I try my best to take every opportunity offered.  If it doesn't work out I never do it again.


Trust your ideas, don't over think things,  its a waste of time.



Your local paper is your new best friend...they can really bring in business.  I have never paid for an advert but I e-mail our local reporter every opportunity I have.  I have got some great spreads in the editorial.


Everyone you meet from now on is a prospective customer,  never be caught short without a business card.  I chat to people in the supermarket queue and give them my card.


Reply promptly to all enquiries. People love quick replies and appreciate not being kept waiting, even if they didn't get the answer they wanted.



Day to day


Stay true to your vision,  its easy to get sucked into, making or doing things you think will be money winners,  they wont work as the lack of passion that you have, will show.


Never agree to any work unless you have a deposit that will at least cover your costs. Not even if you think you can sell it anyway.  Its just not worth it


Your reputation is everything,  don't give anyone an opportunity to bad mouth you.


If someone says they will come back later and buy something,  never believe them.  That way your wont be disappointed and wait around hoping.




The buck stops with you,  you HAVE to make all the decisions,  other people can only advise, but at the end of the day its your call. ( something I love,  I always hated being told what to do, as I always knew I was right anyway :-)


Your business hours are every hour,  you no longer have a personal life.  You will bore your family and friends at every social occasion.You WILL turn into a work-acholic,  if you don't, your not doing it right!


Have fun,  there is no point in doing all this and putting so much in if you are not getting anything out.




Even after all I have said,  put it all into perspective,  it is after all, only a job.....................................


not really!





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