All posts by Lesley

Watercolour painting practice

Today’s watercolour painting practice. A4 size on watercolour paper.

Watercolour painting practice of a camel

I have decided I need to do more watercolour practice!

It is strange, but when I work in acrylics I think acrylics are my favourite medium. And then when I work in watercolours I think no, watercolours are my favourite medium! And vice versa.

But I do know that watercolours take a lot more practice. If only there was more time!

Cubist Painting

A new idea just popped into my head yesterday. I decided I would take a look at trying to create a cubist painting. Cubist painting is something I really like but I really had no idea how to go about it but this is what I came up with. Not sure that I like it but it was an interesting exercise.

My process was as follows:

First of all I found myself three items that I thought had interesting shapes.

Then I made a quick sketch of them on to tracing paper just using outline shapes.

I used the tracing paper to transfer three groups of the same images in what I felt were a pleasing arrangement and decided to paint them with watercolour. That was trickier than I expected. I still need to try and refine my watercolour skills.

At this point I didn’t know what to do, so I took a picture of it and imported it into Procreate on my iPad. This gave me the freedom to play with ideas. Then I came up with something I was happy with.

I took these ideas back to the painting and replicated them in a similar fashion using fine line markers in black and white. And voila!

Well, now that I have worked on that little impulse I am not sure that I want to explore it any further. But that’s not a problem. I still have endless other ideas buzzing around in my head.

Painting Whimsical Portraits

Well I just had to paint another big eyed girl. I love painting whimsical portraits. They are a little bit addictive and I do love whimsy!

Big eyed girl painted on canvas with acrylics

So now I have a set of three.

Set of three big eyed girls painted on 8" canvas with acrylicsNow I wonder if there is any improvement? I painted them in the order 2nd, 3rd, 1st (left to right). What do you think? Have you a preference? Have I improved? Please leave me a comment and let me know which one you like the best. It would be interesting to get some feedback on my progress.



A Couple of Days of ArtPlay

At last I have found some time for creativity including some abstract art. I have had a couple of days of art play and am so-o-o-o happy to have completed four pieces of work.

First of all on Saturday I decided I would paint another Big Eyed Girl inspired by Mindy Lacefield.

This is an 8″ square canvas. Started off with some collage for the background and then painted the girl in acrylics. I do love painting these little girls.

And today was even more productive. I completed three pieces of artwork.Yes three! Woo Hoo!

I wanted to delve a little more into some abstract art. I have had lots of ideas buzzing around in my head. Even been dreaming about it and waking up to make notes!

The first one is fairly large (for me) 12″ x 17″. Collage, acrylics, watercolours and stitchery on watercolour paper.

Then a smaller one 8″ x 10″. Same techniques but no stitchery on this one.

And finally a more colourful piece. This one is using watercolours, collage and stitchery. 6″ x 9″.

And as you can see I already have them signed and mounted. Feeling very virtuous! And also feeling very happy to have had some creative time again.

However, my art room looks like World War Three! So now I have to go and tidy up and clean all my brushes etc. That is the not so fun bit. 🙁

“Abysstract” – Delving into Abstract Art

I have signed up for an art course with Kate Thompson and I’m really enjoying it. This is the result of the first lesson; my first attempt at abstract art!

Abstract art

This was great fun to do and I am loving the result. I have decided to call it ‘Abysstract’ as the word ‘abyss’ conjured up everything I felt about this piece of work.

1. a deep, immeasurable space,
2. anything profound, unfathomable, or infinite: the abyss of time.
3. a subterranean ocean.

This piece is 12″ x 16″ on watercolour paper using a .5 mechanical pencil, a .3 fine line pen, charcoal, watercolour paint and collage. Includes scribbling to music which is very therapeutic.

I can see creature like shapes that appear to float across the surface. Not planned of course, but just happened. I would be interested to hear what you can see?

I need to find some more time now to try some more abstract art and also to delve further into this great art course.

Watercolour Play

I sometimes think I spend more time playing and practicing with my paints than I do finishing pieces of art, but I do believe this is the best way to learn.

I have been spending a long time organising and playing with my watercolours recently.

Daniel Smith Watercolours

First of all I prepared my own little travel set. I purchased this tiny empty metal watercolour box which would hold 12 half pans.

Empty metal watercolour box

But I removed the metal insert trays inside which gave me so much more room. I then re configured the layout so that it would take 24 half pans. I glued in my own half pans and filled them with my preferred colours to create my unique palette. I finished off the paint palette by painting and inserting a reference chart of the colours and Voila!

Travel Watercolour Set

This is such a portable size 5″ x 3″ and perfect for travelling. Plus of course I now have a larger choice of colours for such a small tin.

Then I spent a great deal of time preparing and loading my paints into my large watercolour carousel which I keep in my art room.

Watercolour Carousel Palette

I purchased this carousel online from Robax. It spins around so it is easy to access all the colours. It is probably a little larger than I needed (15″ diameter) and maybe the next size down would have been more practical and taken up less room.

Now it was time to play.

I often spot colours that accidentally fall together on my art table and I suddenly notice what a great colour combination they are and they inspire me, so I decided that when I notice these I would paint the colours together on a piece of watercolour paper as a reminder reference. So I painted a few that I liked and then threaded them on a chain to hang up in my art room.

Watercolour combinations

I can look at these when I need inspiration. But of course this is just a beginning and I will add to the colour chain as I find more great colour combinations. I think I will also paint some three colour combinations too.

Finally, I decided to make myself a reference book of watercolour techniques that I have discovered. So I painted out the ideas and made notes with each technique.

Watercolour Techniques

I then got out my Cinch Binder for the first time.

Cinch Binder

It was incredibly fast and easy to use. I used it to put together this little book. I left some spare blank pages at the end for me to add techniques as I discover more.

Watercolour Techniques

Once again this makes a good reference for inspiration.

So all in all I thought my play days were an excellent way of learning more about watercolours.

I wonder if you have got any great watercolour techniques, video links or website pages with ideas for me to add to my techniques book? If so I would love it if you could share them in the comments.



Face Portrait using Charcoal

I sketched this face portrait from June Biagioni’s ‘Drawing in the Soul’ online class using charcoal pencil and pastels. This is an exceptionally good class and I am enjoying every minute of it. If you would like to learn how to draw portraits then I really recommend this class.

Face portrait

This was my first attempt at using charcoal and I really enjoyed using it, much to my surprise. I find charcoal messy but I used this method of catching the charcoal crumbs that inevitably fall away as you are drawing.

Tape along bottom of easel

I used a table easel and I taped double sided tape on the lower edge which is slightly tilted up to create a channel. The tape attracted the falling crumbs and they stuck to the tape. This meant that there was no mess left on my worktop and no charcoal crumbs were inadvertently smudged on to my drawing whilst I was sketching. One of the reasons I have always avoided charcoal is that I don’t like the mess. But this solved the problem nicely.

I took some photos of the progression of this portrait from start to finish and then made it into a quick little video for you if you would like to see how it evolved.


I was really pleased with this sketch and felt I had made a huge stride forward with my portrait drawing. Now I just need time to practice more.


Artwork using my fabric cords

Do you remember when I showed you how to make fabric cords to include in your art I showed you this photo at the end.Ideas for fabric strips

This is where I laid out a couple of my cords on paper together with some small samples of painted papers?

Well this little lay out sat on my work top in my art room and kept calling out to me to create something.

So finally I found the time and this was the outcome.


Watercolours, collage, stitchery and some added word snippets on 8″ x 12″ watercolour paper.

I was very happy with this piece and all inspired from a little play with making fabric cords.

Gotta keep that brain inspired!


How to Make Fabric Cords

I have been playing with surface design techniques again today working on making fabric cords.

Making Gabric Cords

I am so-o-o pleased with the results. They are even better than I had imagined.

This is how I made them ………

First of all I selected some fabrics from my batik fabric stash. My fabric stash is vast as I was a quilter long before I became an artist. All my fabrics are 100% cotton. The batik fabrics work well for the cords because the design is on both sides of the fabric.

Batik Fabric

You could of course experiment with other types of fabric, because this is how we discover new and inspiring ideas.

I then tore a strip from the fabric about ½” wide. To begin the tear I snip the end of the fabric first with scissors.

Batik fabric

Once I have torn my fabric strip I squeeze a line of glue down the middle of my strip.

Glued fabric strip

This is the glue I used and it works very well.

Clear glue

But you can use any water based glue that dries clear.

Immediately after adding the glue I twist the strip in opposite directions from both ends.

Twisting a cord

Then give the strip a small pull and run my finger and thumb along the strip to make sure glue is distributed throughout.

And voilà, I have made a fabric cord.

Completed Fabric Cord

I just leave it flat on the table to dry.

I then experimented a little more.

Here you will see four different strips. From the left the first one is ½” wide. The second one is wider. The third one has one edge pinked with pinking shears instead of torn and the fourth one is pinked on both sides.

Different Fabric strips

And this is how they finished up.

Different fabric cords

If you look closely you will see that they are all slightly different.

Different hand made cords

So it depends what type of finish you would like.

My final experiment was to cut a strip with a varied width. Here you will see that I added two lines of glue and a thicker amount of it on the wider end.

Varied width fabric strip

This worked out very well too. It gave me a fabric cord that was less uniform in width. This could add more interest to any artwork.

Varied width fabric strip

So all in all I was very pleased with the results.

Fabric cords

I can see a lot of possibilities with these fabric cords for use in my artwork. My imagination has been fired up and I can’t wait to work on a piece of art with the ideas that are racing around in my head. It feeds my soul to be able to incorporate fabric and stitchery into my art.

Ideas for fabric strips

It’s amazing how playing with materials can inspire you. Why not give it a go!

More Mixed Surface ideas coming up over the coming days. Remember to subscribe to posts (top right) to receive email updates. 



How to Make Textured Papers

Today I decided to have a play …….. painting textured papers to incorporate into my artwork.

[easy-image-collage id=410]

What fun! and some great results.

This is how I painted them………

I used acrylic paints and photocopy paper. I mostly used old photocopy paper that I always save in order to try and re-use (to save those poor old trees). Here is a sample of some of the papers I used.

[easy-image-collage id=411]

As you can see they have bits of printing on but I like that. I think that it adds to the final surface design. You will see a selection of book pages, old invoices and even the printer test page.

I chose a colour scheme and randomly painted designs on these with my acrylic paints. I used stencils, stamps and some of my mark making tools. (you can see my home made mark making ideas here). I used my acrylic paints fairly watered down.

Textured Paper

Once I finished painting each sheet I screwed it up whilst still wet.

Scrunched painted paper

Then opened it out and left it lying flat to dry.

When mostly dry but still just a little damp I ironed each sheet between a layer of kitchen roll (top and bottom). This was just to ensure that I didn’t get any paint residue on either the iron or ironing board.

Here is my first stack of completed textured papers.

textured Papers

You will notice that within each painted sheet there are some great areas of texture and colour. I have isolated some for you to see.

Textured paper

Textured Paper

Textured Paper

A camera is a great way of viewing isolated areas that you may want to incorporate into your artwork.

I then changed my colour scheme and worked with some different colours. Here are some of the papers that I produced.

Textured Papers
And here are some of the exciting areas of texture and colour that I found.

Textured Paper

Textured Paper

This one I loved. It was the one that I painted on the used paper invoice with the italic writing on it. Can’t wait to find a use for that piece!

Textured Paper

It was a messy day. Next time I will wear rubber gloves.

Messy Hand

But very enjoyable and I am very happy with my new textured papers. Maybe I will have another play day soon and try some different colour schemes.

If you have enjoyed this photo tutorial then please do subscribe to my blog posts (top right) as I am planning to do a series of posts on textured papers over the coming days and weeks. I have lots more ideas that I want to try out.