Deb Ward, GWS, OWS, PWS, WSI - WATERCOLOR/WATER MEDIA - My passion is teaching adult “beginners”. Weekly classes in my home; workshops; classes for Cincinnati Recreation Commission. My work is nationally recognized and published - see “Featured” on my sidebar. I’m a Signature Member of Georgia, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Indiana state Watercolor Societies, Cincinnati Art Club, past-President of Greater Cincinnati Watercolor Society. Contact info below under “Class Information”

Monday, February 28, 2011


Please note that I consider this a painting and will refer to the watercolor pencils as paint from time to time. So, don’t be confused – paint means the watercolor pencil.
I didn’t decide to blog this whole process until after I had begun the picture so . . .

What you don’t see is just the first step, which was to draw out my picture onto the watercolor paper. Since I don’t have any lighthouse photos of my own, and since this painting is only for educational purposes, I used a photo from a magazine. You can use my drawing here, or perhaps you have your own lighthouse photo to use as a guide.
*Newbie Alert - COPYRIGHT INFO – always remember – if you are going to put your painting out for sale, be sure you use your own photo or get permission from the photographer to use a photo. Never put anything out for sale, or in any show, that is not completely, totally, 100% your own. It is OK to use a photo for educational (learning) purposes – just don’t enter it in a show or sell it.

After drawing the picture onto my w/c paper, I used masking tape as a resist, covering the lighthouse and the buildings.

*Newbie Alert – a resist is anything used to prevent paint from adhering to the paper. There are special resists for watermedia called, variously, masking fluid, miskit, maskoid, and drawing gum, all liquid resists; and friskit film or watercolor washout tape, both sticky plastic tape. You can also use other tape, such as good old Scotch transparent tape, packaging tape, and masking tape.

In this instance, the masking tape is going to keep my lighthouse and buildings white while I paint in the rest of the picture. Then I will paint those objects.

In the photo below I already painted in the sky, leaving cloud shapes white.
After my sky was dry, I took another piece of tape and laid it along the edge of the horizon line so that I would have a sharp line for my horizon line between the sky and water.

*Newbie Alert – never adhere tape to a wet or damp painting; either it will not stick, or it will stick and then later tear your painting when you try to remove it. Also, the term “dry” means 100%, totally, absolutely, Sahara DRY; not even the tiniest bit damp! You can use a hair dryer or walk away for a while to let the paper dry on its own.
You will see here the difference between the sky and water – the water looks very “crayon like” while the sky looks like it has been painted. The difference is – water!

The sky was laid in exactly the way I have laid in the water – simply coloring in the area with the w/c pencil. Then, take a wet brush and wipe over the applied pencil and you are painting the picture!

Saturday, February 26, 2011


(* This means everyone, even experienced painters, can try painting with watercolor pencils in the safety and comfort of your own home!)

Throughout the year I teach classes in different mediums to people with varying skill levels, which can be challenging. The classes are designed to allow the students to complete a painting in 3 hours!

My most recent class was in watercolor pencil. It got me to thinking how we take so much about painting for granted; we just assume that people already have an understanding of what we are doing. Our assumption is no different from those experienced in many other fields.

For instance, did you ever buy a sewing pattern that gave directions aimed at experienced seamstresses - which you aren’t! Since the pattern assumed you already knew sewing terms, and therefore gave no definitions, you could not understand what you were supposed to do. So it is with most blogs about painting – they expect that you have some experience in the medium.

Well, the next several posts will be a detailed lesson in how to paint with watercolor pencils for all of you *Newbies to this medium.

Think of the watercolor pencil like a stick form of watercolor. As a matter of fact, a couple of paint companies have recently come out with “watercolor sticks” – a larger solid form of watercolor than the watercolor pencils, and probably of better quality pigment. I’m assuming that both watercolor pencils and the new watercolor sticks are aimed primarily at artists “on the go” who like to paint outdoors. A combination of these would allow the artist to make a sketch on site and not even have to carry water with them; they could just wet the paint later to complete their painting.

OK, now we are ready to begin our project. Have fun and follow along; I hope this painting turns out well for you – and if it does, please let me know! Results may vary!

Here is a list of supplies you will need for this project – graphite pencil, ruler, masking tape, eraser, pencil sharpener, watercolor pencils, watercolor brushes (one round, one flat), scrubber brush, tissues, and watercolor paper. I used Arches 140# CP which I cut down into 1/8 size - but you could use another brand.

You probably have all of these supplies, except possibly the watercolor pencils.
*Newbie Alert - If you don’t have a scrubber brush, you can use any stiff brush; I’ve used fabric brushes and even an old toothbrush. You can also use an oil painting bristle brush.
As far as tissues, use plain white rather than colored, since it is possible that you can add color from the tissue to your paper when you blot; also, never use any tissues with lotion in them!

*Newbie Alert – Arches watercolor paper can be purchased just about anywhere. 140# denotes the thickness of the paper, and this is the standard thickness of most watercolor papers. This paper will stand up to being erased and scrubbed. A full sheet of this paper measures 22 in. x 30 in. If you cut (or tear) this in half you will get a sheet that is 22x15 – referred to as a half sheet. Cut or tear that in half and you have a quarter sheet (11x15) and then cut or tear that in half and you have a 1/8 sheet (11x7.5). These are the standard sizes used by watercolorists.
To tear watercolor paper – fold in half, then flop the paper back on itself and re-fold on the crease you just made. Do this several times and the paper will have weakened to the point that you are able to tear it. This is how the “professionals” do it! But, if you don’t want to bother, fold it in half and then cut with scissors along the crease.

Below are some watercolor pencils you might look for, and I’m sure there are more on the market. As with any new medium, just buy a small set to see if you like this medium. Even if you don’t, you can still use these watercolor pencils to draw out your watercolor pictures. They also will come in handy if you have a l-i-t-t-l-e t-i-n-y space you need to fill in on a painting - so they won’t go to waste.
Top – Staedtler watercolor pencils – used for this painting
Next – Mongol – I’ve had these so long I don’t know where I got them or if they are even made any more
In the middle – Derwent solid pencils (no wood)
On the right – Cretacolor Aqua Monolith – also solid (no wood)
On the bottom – Caran d’Ache – solid. Sorry – the flash obliterated the name. They look more like a crayon than a pencil. I bought this set for about $15 years ago, don’t use them much. A set like this will set you back a bit; mine must have been on a clearance rack or something!

Thursday, February 24, 2011


Thanks to all of you who voted on the proper orientation for the sycamore leaves.

Looks like View #3 won – so here it is, finally completed - with your help!

Sycamore Leaves, Fluid Acrylic on watercolor board, 20x16.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011


I added some paint to define petal edges and put in the pink center. I’m not sure if that is too much pink so I’m living with it right now. If I decide to knock that back a bit, I’ll use some alcohol on a Qtip to rub it out.
Well, guys, I’m still not a Yupo lover, but I may do a few more paintings in this genre and hope they turn out as good as this one!

Peony, Fluid Acrylic on Yupo, 13x18.5

Friday, February 18, 2011


Here are some images of the edges of the petals to show how it looks “up close and personal” where the paint bled under the tape. It gives that crinkly look that is called “the batik look”.
I’m not convinced there is skill to this technique – I think it’s more pure, dumb luck!

Monday, February 14, 2011


As my friend says, “removing the tape is like opening a Christmas present – you never know what you are going to get.” Well, I’m pretty happy with this “present”! I like the purity of the colors and am happy with the way the colors bled under the tape on the edges of the petals.
I was surprised that there was no bleed with the masking tape initially used, even though paint was added on top of it several times.

The taping technique gives a unique look to a painting, but it does take patience. Of course, doesn’t watermedia always require some patience!

I’m pleased to say that there wasn’t much problem with the tape peeling up the paint – other than a few areas where the background paint was a bit thicker. I had anticipated that problem, and was extremely careful to pull back into the peony so that I minimized the amount of paint torn away.

Thursday, February 10, 2011


Yupo peony 4

Can you say BLUE PAINTER’S TAPE! This photo will brighten up your computer screen!
I applied the painter’s tape to the entire flower, then added some darks around the edges.
After taking this photo, I decided the background could be even darker, so I added 2 more layers of paint, using sap green and dioxigin purple in addition to the aforementioned 4 colors to get a nice dark.

I didn’t really have to cover the entire flower with tape, since I was only going to put more paint along the edges, but, since this was an experiment to see if the tape would lift the paint, I just went ahead and did it anyway!

Sunday, February 6, 2011


If you have taken classes from me, you know I always say to use regular masking tape as a resist because the colors of other tape can compete with the paint colors.

Well, “never say never”. But I have a good reason for doing this. Since painting on Yupo with acrylic is painting plastic onto plastic, I’m afraid that the regular masking tape will pull up the paint when I remove it, so I’m using some other tape with less “stickiness”. Here I’ve used “Frog tape”.

The photo above shows the second layer of paint applied.

More tape, this time blue painter’s tape, and another layer of paint.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011


I taped off areas I wanted to keep white – here I used plain, old masking tape.

I’ll be applying the fluid acrylics in a pouring manner and dropping paint with a brush, since my aim here is to build up light, thin layers.
This is how it looked following the first layer. The colors used are DaVinci hansa, quin. gold, cobalt and quin. rose.