More About Watercolouring & Kandinsky

07 Apr

I’ve had enough of this not blogging thing. 🙂

I’ve got a feeling I’m going to be talking about watercolour painting a lot on this blog.

I’ve recently discovered Derwent Aquatone Watercolour Sticks (pdf). Wowee, I’m in love. I bought a 12-pack at Hobby Craft for a little over £16. When I got home, I had a look on Amazon and saw the 24-pack for £18! I ordered those and returned the smaller pack. (The smaller pack sells for about £9 on Amazon…but they’re quite pricey in the States.)

See a short video clip here.

These are fabulous. They are watercolour sticks with no casing, so the entire pencil can be used. They are quite large and have a nice weight to them. They contain 4x more usable material than an ordinary coloured pencil. I love the bright colours. Individual sticks can be purchased for about £1.50 at Hobby Craft, which is great since I don’t want to have to buy an entire set just to replace one pencil.

I recently bought a colouring book…for myself! I found this at Hobby Craft. I love this artist, and I love flowers, in particular Chinese flowers. One of my artistic problems is that I can’t really draw, not yet anyway. I bought this book for some instant gratification. I can photocopy the pages onto sketch paper or watercolour paper and use coloured pencils, watercolour paints, watercolour crayons, watercolour pencils, pastels…whatever. And when we study Hiroshige, Esa can enjoy this book as well.

I’ve also purchased a ceramic palette. I’ve been using plastic ones and I really don’t like them. They’re difficult to wash, stain so easily, and  move about on the table while you’re trying to paint. This ceramic one is perfect. It cleans up beautifully and stays in place.

My copy of Watercolor Basics: Let’s Get Started arrived. I was having a read and was surprised by something. The artist, Jack Reid, who’s been painting for 60-odd years, recommends buying synthetic brushes. None of the advice I’ve come across so far says that. Everyone always says to buy the best paints, the best paper, and the best brushes (Kolinsky sable…hideously expensive.) I’m all for buying good paints and paper, but with the brushes I’ve been tempted to buy synthetic anyway. The only reason for sable brushes is that they hold more paint. I’ve not come across any other reason for buying good brushes. They don’t hold up any better, they don’t necessarily produce better results, they simply hold more paint. Which is important, so that you don’t have to stop midway through a stroke to reload your brush, but a good synthetic brush will hold enough paint unless you’re doing really, really long strokes. So I’m going to go for the Winsor & Newton Cotman brushes. They’re soft, look a bit like sable, and seem like good quality brushes. For my rigger and fineliner I opted for the synthetic/sable mix. They’re small brushes, so not expensive and when doing fine-line work, you really do need to have as much paint loaded onto the brush as possible. And since there aren’t many bristles on these brushes to begin with, I felt a few sable hairs would help.


Since writing the above about brushes, I’ve experimented with 2 riggers: one synthetic and one synthetic/sable mix. I definitely prefer the mix. The synthetic brush seems to sort of bounce about on the paper. I don’t really know how to explain it,  but it’s definitely not as good. The other synthetic brushes are great, though.

My new best friend, Subadra, has pointed me in the direction of Captain Watercolor. I’m loving this site. He has some great tutorial videos that are invaluable. And free!

I’ve also discovered that our local college does a watercolour for absolute beginners course. I’ll have to wait until May to find out when the new session starts, but I’m really excited!


A few days ago, I was browsing through our Impressionist coffee table book, looking for a new artist to study for our last term. Nothing was catching my eye (It’s not a very good book; I got it at one of those discount book shops. It has lots of great Monet paintings, but only a small smattering from the other Impressionists.) Then I thought, ‘Why do we have to study another Impressionist? Why not try something different?’ So I showed Esa a few paintings by Wassily Kandinsky and asked him what he thought. He got very excited!

I’ve ordered a Kandinksy colouring book for Esa. We’ve been a bit intimidated by trying to recreate artists’ paintings,  so I thought for Kandinsky we’d use a colouring book for some of the paintings, so that we can concentrate on the colours, rather than the technical side of reproduction. We will also have some sessions of creating our own, original abstract art, without the pressure of trying to copy someone else’s work.


Posted by on April 7, 2010 in Art, Watercolour Painting


3 responses to “More About Watercolouring & Kandinsky

  1. Subadra

    April 8, 2010 at 12:45 am

    This is so AWESOME! OK you have done it. I have gotten all my supplies out and waiting impatiently for the time to be freed up to paint.

    Oh Winston brushes are awesome. And I would go with student quality ones as a beginner. Also, brushes are very very personal, Michelle. I have both sets, and it is strange that for some of the works, I have to use one particular kind, which my kids and my other art friends find it hard to use.

    I think I am going to paint the image you have here. It is so beautiful that dd (who considers herself not much of an artist of painting kind) has fallen in love with it and is inspired to try it:))) Thanks for these posts. These are awesome. Though I can paint, I cannot teach:( It helps for my dd to just read your blog posts on supplies / instructions and such. I love Kandinksy’s works. They are so playful…

    If you have the time, check this blog They are of old art works of mine and kids. You actually inspired me to collect these in this blog. Because we are going away for a year to India, and all these art work will be stored away. I felt it was the right thing to do…to photograph them to store them here so it will be there forever(hopefully).

    Thanks again. I will be back to see more…Oh I am going to be posting something on watercolors too..thanks for the inspiration, my friend:))


    • whimsyway

      April 8, 2010 at 5:57 am

      Wow, Subadra, I can’t believe I’ve managed to inspire you so much! I’m really touched, thank you for this lovely comment. I also want to apologise, I meant to include a link to your main blog in that post. I’ve just fixed that. I will definitely check out your art work! Which image are you going to paint?

  2. Subadra

    April 8, 2010 at 7:14 am

    Hi Michele,

    I think I always wanted to paint and have been having it in the back of my mind. I LOVE to paint…just life got too busy…. But to really to bring my thought to reality mentality came about after reading your posts:))…so I really did get my supplies out, lol.

    Oh, my dd wants to paint these Chinese flowers you have here. I know it is a coloring book and all, but the colors you have there are so vibrant and beautiful. All this while, I have been bringing watercolor papers and brushes to my dd to do the watercolor paintings. She is a perfectionist, and does not think of herself to be good at painting. So, I am thinking of getting her these watercolor pencils or sticks(similar to what you have here). I have not tried them with her. It is a neat idea, with more control for my 11yr old..Thanks for that tip too. What you are using is very pricey here….wow! I will see what I can find here similar to those.

    And I will be painting along with her…I will let you know how we progress. She has 4 AP exams coming up, so art is going to be something of small increments of casual relaxation time:))
    Thanks again


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