Skip to content

Some days you can do it and some days…

July 1, 2009

I found painting so difficult yesterday. Hours were spent doing picture after picture with nothing to show at the end.

I stared at watercolour painting in deadly earnest….it stared right back at me. And the more I stared the less I saw. I just couldn’t seem to get the hang of it and in my frustration, my inner voice told me to consider that maybe watercolours weren’t for me.

Then today, as I sat doodling about my inability to paint, (well, banging my forehead against the drawing board wasn’t going to get it done) I spied an old ink drawing of a snapshot taken during a visit to the British Museum in March. Such a dear little couple. She yakked incessantly on her mobile whilst he sat there, uncomplaining and without fidgeting, in his super-shiny shoes – they must have been married for a long time.


It was just an unimportant drawing on cheap paper and I thought it couldn’t hurt to splosh some colour onto it. Then BLAM! Something clicked in my brain. And I think I’ll continue to pursue using watercolour paints for a while as I’m pleased with this.


I used seven colours and mixed them directly on the paper.

If you want to know which colours I used…the ones in my tiny, basic paint box, of course. I’m a watercolour newbie who has yet to learn which pallet I prefer.

I’ll bet even Charles Reid had days when he couldn’t decide which colours to use.

P.S. If some kindly WordPress-geek out there has the patience to explain how I upload a normal 1000 pixels image so that it appears as 500 pixels on my blog (not just a tiny thumbnail) which, when clicked, enlarges to the full 1000 pixels (keep up) – I’d like that.

  1. severnyproductions permalink
    July 1, 2009 1:27 pm

    The great thing i found about watercolours is that they are fast. Ie -you have to work fast. Maybe thats why you were getting nowhere yesterday but this peice is pretty good.. Well captured.

    severnyproductions: Hi there. WP won’t let me reply to your comment in the normal way so I’m adding it here. I appreciate your advice and kind words – sometimes there’s a delay before the lessons connect with my brain and practice is the only way I know to get there in the end.

  2. eclectnik permalink
    July 1, 2009 1:52 pm

    Hi June, or should I say Inksplodge (don’t really know the etiquette of blogging)?
    I know just what you mean because I always struggle with painting and drawing, but I love doing it. It’s always hard, but occasionally it’s worth it. I knew it was the British Museum too, before I read the words, because I go sketching there at lunch time some days and recognised the place in the photo immediately. If you look at my blog though you’ll notice that I draw the statues rather than the people ( They stay still which gives me a slightly better chance of drawing them. Real live people will keep moving about! Love your watercolour! I tried one last week (again see my blog) of a local view, a pub of course. Then while I was queuing in the post office yesterday I noticed a picture on the wall, for sale, of exactly the same view. I suppose there are not many picturesque views in my neighbourhood, and I wasn’t expecting to sell mine anyway, but really! I felt a bit cheated. On the whole I stick to life drawing classes and at the moment I am just coming to the end of my first life painting course where we have been working in acrylic which is new to me. Watercolour is harder to get right I think. But all art is hard all the time, so well done for not giving up and getting a fabulous result. Sorry haven’t I rabbited on.
    Oh and I have no idea about the pixels thing, but your pictures appeared at full size to me not thumbnails, maybe it’s a setting on your computer rather than WordPress…?

    • July 1, 2009 3:35 pm

      The two names are purely to confuse people. I like your blog and I liked your ‘rabbiting on’ – made me smile. The museum’s a cool place, isn’t it? I like pushing myself to sketch people quickly.

      Painting and drawing often feels impossible but the challenge is enjoyable and always worth the effort. Don’t worry about the image size thing…I’ll work it out eventually using trial and error.

  3. July 1, 2009 7:13 pm

    Hey – this is amazing – I love the colours in the guy’s jacket – then I saw they are reflected in the woman’s skirt – but his trousers and her shirt are complementary. Brilliant!

    CR says that colour is not as important as value – I think.

    This is inspiring stuff.

    • July 1, 2009 8:15 pm

      Erm, if you say so Swatch 😀 but I think it has more to do with the limited pallet I mentioned – I just paint as I see with a bit added from the heart.

      Not sure I’ve yet arrived at the stage where I can stand back and properly analyse why something works or doesn’t, I just twiddle the brush in the paint, sometimes stick my tongue out and hope for the best. Maybe I should take a different approach – perhaps the CR books help with that; they arrived today. Yahoo!

  4. July 2, 2009 11:46 am

    Hi June – love your sketch! I think having the drawing there allowed you to be freer with the colour; the ink lines hold it all together. Something you might like to try; do the colour work first in very loose washes and then draw over it. It’s a fun exercise which can yield surprising results.

    I, too, am a fan of Charles R – he inspired me greatly in the earlier days and I have several of his books. My paintings at that time were splashed with wild bright colours. I call it my “Fruit Salad Period”. CR’s forte is undoubtedly portrait painting though, and I think his landscapes can be decidedly iffy – especially his greens. All I’m saying is, enjoy the books (which ones are they?) and be selective. Take on board the things you like and reject what you don’t – it ain’t the Bible!

    • July 2, 2009 4:16 pm

      Oh yes you’re so right about the safe ink outline. Must explore every approach and not remain stuck in my ways of working with ink washes.

      It was CR’s nudes that grabbed me (‘The Natural Way to Paint’) and I have to agree that only a few images pass my test of whether or not I could live with them on my wall. But I’m devouring his advice and am sure I’ll be serving up many a fruit salad here, especially when I’ve bought some more paint next week. The other is his ‘Watercolour Secrets’. Very much appreciate the sound tips Keith…so glad I decided to blog.

  5. July 2, 2009 11:20 pm

    What a lovely and cheerful painting. I can just hear her yakking and him sitting waiting patiently.

    I love your use of color. Free and not overworked. (Like mine always are!)

    Glad you liked it Carol – Your lovely vase with yellow flowers didn’t look overworked to me – the wet-on- wet technique on the vase in particular.

    Don’t know what’s up with the comments reply – WordPress won’t let me reply to each one as per normal.

  6. July 3, 2009 7:30 pm

    Did you figure out how to get pictures to blow-up when you click on them? I could do it in my previous blog and I can see others can do it. I wonder if it has to do with the theme you use. Leslie uses Chaos theme or something. I also want to have this option.

    Swatch: See kind comments below from lesliepaints – I’ll tried her useful tips but couldn’t get the result I wanted…sure I’ll figure it out eventually.

  7. lesliepaints permalink
    July 3, 2009 10:30 pm

    June. Don’t quit watercolors.You like them so much. This ink and wash is lovely. You wouldn’t believe how we all struggled with it at the beginning. All I can say is use your classes as information on the technique and at some point the water helps you and you have to learn to allow for that. I also had to learn to go back in to a painting and see what I could do with it. Somewhere inside you have to say there are no rules and see what June can do.
    Enlarging: When you start a new post, at the point where you insert the picture, a screen shows you a picture of your upload. On that page you can select small, medium and large. I select medium for mine. Underneath that is another choice and you need to click file URL. The next time you create a new post you don’t change those settings and they will always come up medium and will always enlarge. If that doesn’t work, I’ll get with my tutor because it might be something else you click. This is on that page before you insert them. After that, click insert. Unfortunately, you would have to remove your old posts and start all over to get the ones you already posted to do this. Share info with Steve.

    lesliepaints: Wow! You’re so kind and helpful. I’m blown away by all the great tips and encouragement blogger artists have given me. Do you have a blog? You didn’t supply the URL.

    Really appreciate you going to the trouble of explaining image uploading – we’ll see if I can work it out next post.

  8. lesliepaints permalink
    July 4, 2009 5:04 pm

    The file URL may be above the small, medium, large choice. Anyway, look for that and see if that does it.

    lesliepaints: Well it’ll be fun to see if I can get the hang of it when I next upload a picture. Thanks again for your kindness.

  9. July 5, 2009 3:47 am

    It is a very nice piece. It should encourage you to continue. Do you wipe your wet brush on the side of the shirt you are wearing like Charles Reid?

    I’ve been banging my head on the wall all day today when painting was going nowhere. Do you have anything for a headache?

    • July 6, 2009 9:37 am

      Hey Bill, I don’t wipe my brush – thought that was obvious with the splodges. Hang on…. *dashes off to get Bill a headache pill and a glass of water*

  10. July 6, 2009 1:46 pm

    My blog is

  11. July 6, 2009 2:49 pm

    You could help me, too. I don’t know how to get my lesliepaints blog to show up so other people can click on it.

    • July 6, 2009 3:24 pm

      Make sure that you have logged on to your blog – then it should show up automatically on most sites. Otherwise, you’ll have to type in your entire website link where other blogs ask for your url in the comments section. That means typing in You’ll see that I’ve added it to my comments section so that if you hover over the link your site shows up or click on it and it’ll take you back to your own site. Hope this helps.

  12. studiomysteries permalink
    July 12, 2009 2:20 am

    Hey, I love this sketch! It’s so spontaneous and the couple is cute in their everyday silliness. The washes are so loose and easy – your sweating should have been visible! No fair! 😛

    • July 12, 2009 10:25 am

      studiomysteries: Maybe I should have taken a photo of the HUGE pile of screwed up watercolours that I binned. Next time.

  13. July 12, 2009 3:45 am

    Oh, June. Time for another post. Painting won’t be so difficult if you practice a little more.

    • July 12, 2009 10:28 am

      wrjones: Stop drumming your fingers on the monitor Bill 😀 Can’t get my picture scanned until the shop opens on Monday.

  14. July 12, 2009 8:09 pm

    No – I am with Bill here – time for more work – Ah yes – Monday it is – looking forward to that… (o:

  15. studiomysteries permalink
    July 13, 2009 5:57 pm

    Lol, Splodge, you should totally do that! It’ll be a morale booster to the rest of us. Always good to know one is not the only one tearing out one’s hair occasionally in the studio 😀

    • July 13, 2009 7:48 pm

      Or even sitting sighing, staring at the paper and sighing! Sigh!

  16. July 24, 2009 8:37 am

    I just love the couple sketch/watercolour. Nice and lively. Lots of feeling in the poses.
    also posting as www.


  1. another buffelsbaai watercolour « watercolour from africa

Comments are closed.

%d bloggers like this: