Find us on Facebook
Follow us on Twitter
Subscribe to our YouTube channel
Subscribe to our RSS feeds
Watch Live Online Art Classes

How to paint a Cape cottage landscape in watercolor

August 8, 2010


by Dennis L. Clark

What colours are used in this painting ?
Ultramarine Blue
Crimson Alizarin
Raw Sienna
Light Red
Yellow Ochre
Prussian Blue
Cadmium Orange

Medium Used : Watercolor on 300gsm (140lb) Bockingford Paper

What brushes are used in this painting ?
25mm (1″) synthetic flat, #6 synthetic round, and a #2 rigger brush.

Other equipment used in this painting ?
Masking Tape 20mm wide, Masking Fluid, Soap, Hair Dryer.


A very popular painting subject is the quaint cottages normally referred to as Fishermen’s Cottages or simply as Cape Cottages. They normally occur along the south-east, southern and western coastlines of South Africa. They are also found inland somewhat, but not nearly as many as along the coastlines. The subject I have chosen is a simple inland scene with just enough interest to produce a pleasing painting.

The tutorial painting was painted on a 9″ x 12″ paper so if you are going to use a different size paper, you will have to adjust the brush sizes to suit the canvas.



Note : All links in this tutorial open in a new window, simply close that window to return here.

Staple or stretch a piece of watercolour paper (Bockingford 300gsm (140lb) or similar onto a strong board. The picture size used is 305mm x 230mm (12″ x 9″). Stick masking tape carefully around the picture edge making sure the inside edge is smoothed to not allow paint to seep underneath the tape, especially at the corners.

Print out and transfer the sketch to the paper.

Masking Fluid

Carefully apply Masking Fluid (Liquid Frisket) along the inside edge of the Cottage sketch to preserve the whites. (1st Golden Rule – preserve your whites first. Plan them BEFORE starting any painting!!) For the use and protection of your brush read my article on the use of masking fluid in the Forum (link opens in new window)

Painting the Sky


With the board at a slight angle, and using at least a 25mm wide brush start applying the sky colour (Ultramarine with a slight touch of Crimson Alizarin or similar). Don’t skimp. Fill the brush up and stroke it from one side to the other in one go. Fill up the brush again and stroke the brush just touching (overlapping) the colour bead of the previous upper application. As you get nearer the horizon start lightening the sky value by addding more water to the mixture. And continue downwards into the mountain area. Fade away the lower edge so as not leave a definite edge. Do not let any paint get into the cottage area.

Painting the Clouds


While the sky is still wet, dab in a few clouds with a crumpled-up tissue. This causes dry patches which will also help when we darken up the upper sky. Let some of the clouds disappear behind the mountains as well as out the sides of the painting.


Darken up the previous sky colour with more Blue and Crimson and wash over the previous dry colour and let it back up against the top dry area of the clouds. Carefully mop up the collected colour at the cloud edges with a smaller brush. Don’t let any run into the cloud area. Blow dry the painting and wash in a very light Orange to give warmth to the clouds. Be careful to leave the left-hand edges of the clouds white to act as highlights to the clouds. The sun is on the left of the painting.

Painting the Mountains


The mountains are painted in with a darker mixture of the sky colour. The nearer mountain slightly darker than the further one. Lighten up the sunlit sides by lifting out the colour before the paint dries. Be careful to retain the sharp edge between the dark of the furthest and the light of the nearer mountain. Bring the darks of the closer mountain slightly over the edge of the masking fluid in order to obtain a sharp line between the cottage and the mountain.

Painting the Trees


Carefully block in the trees with a mixture of Viridian and Orange. Leave open spaces for the birds to fly through. Add more of the mixture plus a touch of Crimson to the right-hand side for the shadow area.. Keep the lower half more solid as there are more leaves blocking the passage of light. Notice that the darks of the tree is up to the edge of the cottage. Add the smaller tree on the right in a slightly lighter value than the main tree. Also add the bush to the left of the cottage. This helps to define the white of the walls.

Painting the Cottage


Use a strip of masking tape to remove the masking fluid. Don’t lift upwards but keep sliding it along the paper surface to prevent damage to the paper. Add a light wash of Yellow Ochre to the thatched area and with a mixture of Light Red and a touch of Ultramarine Blue (Brownish) start blocking in the darker values. When dry, overpaint areas with a touch of Prussian Blue added to the previous mixture. With this same darker colour paint in the door, windows and the loft door.

Cottage Shadows


Paint in the shadow areas of the cottage with a mixture of Ultramarine Blue, Crimson Alizarin and a slight touch of Orange to warm it up slightly. Paint the sunlit walls of the cottage with just the slightest hint of Orange. Lift out the wall thickness of the windows and the doors with a small wet brush.

Painting the Foreground


Now paint the ground area with a light wash of Raw Sienna or Yellow Ochre and the road with a light wash of Light Red. Begin the foreground darks with a brownish mixture of Light Red and Prussian Blue. Vary the values to get light and darks. Don’t bring any of this colour into the road. Gently touch some of the lighter values into the distant background, remembering to keep the distant trees light and small for atmospheric and aerial perspective. With the same colours as the foreground but more to the dark green side, add in some small bushes for interest.

Painting the Road


Splatter (spatter) some dark brown spots on the road ensuring less and smaller spots as the road recedes into the distance. Follow up with some purple and orange splatter. Notice the paper protecting the cottage from stray splatter. With a wet brush carefully wash out the wheel marks into the road. Take care to correctly “draw” in the perspective of the vehicle marks.

Painting the Figure


Add a small figure in the opening between the trees for interest and to show that there are people living in the cottage. Don’t forget the cast shadow that places the figure onto the ground. Shade the drum and its cast shadow using the mountain mix. Add in the ladder with a #2 rigger brush using a dark Ultramarine and Orange mixture.

The End of the Road !


Add a few purple shadows across the road.. This comes from trees to the left of the painting. The immediate foreground is purposely darkened with these shadows in order to force and lead the viewer’s eye into the painting towards the focal point.

Carefully remove the masking tape around the edge of the painting by softening the glue with a hair dryer and carefully pulling the tape sideways (not upwards) away from the painting.. This will give a clean professional looking border.

I hope you enjoyed this tutorial, please don’t forget to email us a picture of your completed painting. We like to see how you are progressing.

Comments Off on How to paint a Cape cottage landscape in watercolor

How to paint cosmos flowers in watercolor

August 8, 2010


by Dennis Clark

What are Cosmos flowers ?
Cosmos flowers grow wild in South Africa and bloom around the start of winter. They are either white, pink or maroon.

cosmos13 cosmos14 cosmos15

What colours are used in this painting ?
Ultramarine Blue
Crimson Lake
Light Red
Cadmium Yellow
Raw Sienna or Yellow Ochre
White (Acrylic or Gouache)

Medium Used : Watercolour on stretched paper

General Forms of Flowers

cosmos10 cosmos9
cosmos8 cosmos6

These are the main shapes needed for painting. For other angles simply rotate the sketches provided as needed. The dotted lines at each form indicates the preliminary sketch needed for the correct positioning and perspective of the petals.


Here you can see the correct petal tips while the right hand tip shows the incorrect saw-tooth effect used by some artists. REMEMBER: the wild cosmos always have 8 petals! I have seen too many professionally painted cosmos with anything from 5 to 10 petals. Take time to observe nature and that which you are painting. Study them and practice them until you are able to draw the various shapes and positions without referring to the illustrations


The sketch above shows a closed bud.

Pencil Sketch


In order to keep a spontaneous atmosphere do not sketch in any more than just the outlines of the flowers and the buds. Without these pencil lines it would be very difficult to obtain a clean form for the flowers and the buds as the masking fluid is not easily seen when applied directly to the paper. Do not try to sketch in the stems or the leaves. These will be drawn (painted) in later with the Rigger brush.

Masking Fluid


Prior to using the masking fluid shake the bottle vigorously for a while to ensure a thorough mixing because if the bottle has been standing for some time the upper layer will be fairly stiff. If the fluid is too thick it will not cover the painting properly and will leave open areas which are not easily seen. These spaces will ruin your painting. If necessary, add water virtually drop by drop, while stirring with the handle of your Rigger brush, until the correct consistency is obtained. Don’t forget to treat your brush with the lather of a green Sunlight soap bar BEFORE putting your brush into the masking fluid. CAREFULLY paint in the flower and buds areas with the masking fluid, making sure that the edges are clean and tidy, especially the petal tips as these are very characteristic of the cosmos. Clean the brush thoroughly with water between each flower application and re-treat with the soap bar lather. A reasonably thin consistency is needed for the stems otherwise the stem will be too thick, irregular and look unnatural.



It is the background that sets the mood and the atmosphere of the painting and can be any colour scheme you personally want. In this particular painting the blue background was chosen to give it an outdoor feeling.

First mix separate mixtures of :-
French Ultramarine for the main background:
Medium density Crimson Lake for the faded flowers:
French Ultramarine and Light Red in a fairly strong mixture for the darker background –
More Light Red for the green-brown background shadow area and even more Light Red/Ultramarine to obtain the dark green colour for the stems and leaves.

Add a light blue fluid wash to the upper area of the painting and slightly darker as one proceeds lower down. Into the bottom section add some of the dark green mixture so that the colours mix, being careful that the upper section stays lighter in value. This can be obtained and controlled by slightly lifting up and placing a packing under the upper part of the board. Be careful to work the paint to the very edges of the masking fluid. Don’t be scared to make the centre area very dark, especially around the white flower(s) as the colour will dry lighter than you think it will. Once dry, this area may even be over-painted with the same colours to increase the shadow area(s). Remember, contrast is needed to show up the white flowers! Don’t be scared of painting over the areas treated with masking fluid.



Now paint in the leaves with the Rigger brush. Paint in a sketching way with the brush held virtually in an upright position and with the point just touching the paper. Practice on a separate piece of paper first until you are confident. The long line must be executed in a flowing action with the brush slowly lifted up at the end of the stroke in order to obtain the thinned down tips. The tiny sub leaves on the side stripes are best executed with short swift “flicks”. Remember, the leaves, and the buds, are only there as “fillers” to round off the composition of the painting, so do NOT overdo the amount of leaves – rather a bit too few than too many.

Remove Masking Fluid


What is left now is the removal of the masking fluid. MAKE SURE THE PAINTING IS COMPLETELY DRY before removing the masking fluid. If the paper is even slightly wet or damp the rubber compound will grip the paper and tear away the damp paper underneath it and ruin all your hard work.

You may remove it by rubbing with your finger, but this can be disastrous if your finger is even slightly dirty or oily. The best method is the use of a piece of masking tape to pull the rubberized fluid off with a stroking action ACROSS the paper. NEVER pull the rubber off with an upward action – it may just cause the paper fibres to separate! A light pressure of the finger across the painting will tell if any masking fluid is still left on the paper.

Flowers and Buds


As the flowers are slightly cupped in shape the top of the flowers will be in shade and thus darker in value. Many artists forget this feature and so paint them incorrectly.

For the pink flower make sure that your brush has been thoroughly cleaned of any other colour. You want the flowers to look clean and fresh. Paint the light colour first, dry with a hair-drier, and then add the slightly darker colour for the shadows.

For the darker red flower mix a darker mixture of Crimson Lake and then carefully add some pure French Ultramarine until a dark maroon colour is obtained. While the paint in the flower is still wet lift out the lower half in order to obtain the sunlit area.

For the white flower shade mix a light mixture of French Ultramarine and Crimson Lake to obtain blueish purple. Add only to the top half leaving some of the petal edges white. Don’t forget to have a variety of pink, red and white buds and add some shadows to the bottom of the buds.



With Cadmium Yellow and French Ultramarine mix a yellow green mixture for the stems and completely paint in the white areas. With the same mixture as the leaves now add shadows to the stems and finish off by adding small cover leaves at the base of the buds.

Flower Centres


Using either the Raw sienna or Yellow Ochre paint in the flower centres straight from the tube or pan. The shadow area of the centre is a strong mixture of Crimson Lake and French Ultramarine. Apply it with the point of the brush in a series of dots so that the edges of the shadow is uneven. The final touch to the painting prior to signing your name is the highlight on the flower centres and on the buds. For this use a touch of Chinese White or white Gouache/Acrylic. Without these highlights the painting is “dead”.

Finished Painting


Comments Off on How to paint cosmos flowers in watercolor

Nelson Mandela

July 21, 2010


by Nolan Clark

What colours are used in this painting ?
Cadmium Yellow
Prussian Blue
Cadmium Orange
Light Red
Crimson Alizarin

Medium Used : Watercolor on 300gsm (140lb) Card

What brushes are used in this painting ?
#2 Rigger, #8 Synthetic flat or toothbrush.

Other equipment used in this painting ?
300gsm (140lb) Card, Marking Pen, Craft Knife, Hair Dryer.


For this painting I want to do something different, so I have decided to use a splatter technique.

To demonstrate the effectiveness of this technique we are going to use a ‘difficult’ subject – a face. Since Mr Mandela is probably South Africa’s most famous person we will use him as our subject.



The preparation for this painting takes longer than the actual painting itself does, so take your time as the end result will only be as good as the preparation. As we can’t control our splatter we need a way to mask off the sections that we don’t want to splatter.

To do this we need to split Mr Mandela’s face into different colors. I used an image editing program like Corel Photo Paint to do this for me, but you can also do it by hand. I will explain the process used in Corel Photo Paint next. If you would like to do it by hand, then click on the split image above to open a printable version.

Computer Separation (Skip if doing by hand)

Note : If you don’t have an image editing program, then there are online ones like SUMO Paint that you can use for free as well)

Open the photo in Corel Photo Paint and posterize it [Image-Transform-Posterize]. You can now adjust the level until the best effect is achieved. I have used a level of 2 for this picture. Our picture is now in three distinct colors. Use the Color Mask effect [Mask-Color Mask] to select one color at a time. Copy each color and paste it as a new document [Edit-Paste-As New Document]. We now have three new files, one for each color. Print these three files out on 300gsm card. They will become our templates.

Hand Separation (Skip if doing on the Computer)

Print out three of the images that have been pre-split for you, all the same size.

When trying another picture, just look for individual colors or, as in our example, changes in the tone of the same color. These will be your clue as to where to split the image.



The color templates are drawn / printed onto 300gsm card (the same thickness as used for a business card). Use a craft knife to trim the templates out of the card. Above is what the red printout looks like.



When cutting your templates out you will need to do a little planning to see where your bridges must be. Bridges are used to ensure that all pieces stay connected to the main bulk of the card. An example is shown above. Below are my final templates.




Our biggest problem is to ensure that, when you put the templates onto the original, they are in exactly the correct position. To do this take a piece of tracing paper and print the posterized image on it (with all three colors). Draw a block around your picture, extending the lines to form a cross at each corner. Place the tracing paper onto each template, ensuring that they line up exactly. Using a pin transfer the position of your crosses. Do the same on your final painting. Draw in the blocks on your templates and very lightly on the final painting. You can now cut out the cross on each template. You can see how the template is aligned with the final painting in the photo above.


We have basically divided Mr Mandela’s face up into three sections – dark, medium and light. Choose three harmonious colors, ensuring that they have a good tonal range, i.e., good contrast between light and middle as well as between middle and dark. In this example I am going to use the colors the computer gave me, but look at the end of this tutorial for a “blue” Mandela.

The colors I have mixed are –

Dark – Prussian Blue with Crimson Alizarin
Middle – Light Red with Cadmium Orange
Light – Cadmium Yellow with Orange

Put one template down ensuring it is perfectly aligned. Using a toothbrush or your #8 bristle, splatter the color all over the gaps in the template. The toothbrush will give smaller, more concentrated, splatter while the brush will give larger, less controlled splatter. Use whichever gives you the best effect. Always double check the position of the template before you start, tape the final and template cards down if necessary. Also ensure that the template is not upside down or wrong way around.


When you are happy that the splatter is even, carefully lift up the template by pressing down on one of the sides to form a hinge. Lift up the template from the opposite side. Be careful that the paint that is lying on the template doesn’t drip off onto your final painting.

You can now dry your final painting and the template with a hair dryer.

Repeat the process with the next two templates. Your painting should look something like this :



We can already see that it is Mr Mandela, but the painting lacks definition. Add this in by hand. Use your rigger brush to paint your own dots in strategic places. I have added dots on the hairline, mouth, left ear, nose and under the chin.

Here is my finished painting :


Comments Off on Nelson Mandela

site tracking with Asynchronous Google Analytics plugin for Multisite by WordPress Expert at Web Design Jakarta.