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September 26, 2010

New site layout

Filed under: Latest News — admin @ 8:29 pm

We have changed the site layout today to be more user friendly.

We hope you like it, give us your comments

September 21, 2010

Privacy and Refund Policy

Filed under: Legal Stuff — admin @ 10:37 pm


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If you are not 100% satisfied with your purchase, within 30 days from the purchase date, we will fully refund the cost of your order.

September 9, 2010

Painting South Africa – Fair Lady Nov 2002

Filed under: Media Mentions — admin @ 2:38 pm

Painting South Africa with The Paint Basket

Learn to paint during any week from February to November with The Paint Basket, which conducts “Painting South Africa” holidays that attract people from all over the world. One holiday is never the same as another, they take place in various locations, from game lodges to reserves and holiday resorts around the country. Game drives, ethnic dancing and visits to craft markets form part of the programme. The atmosphere is relaxed and Dennis and Nolan Clark, who run the programme, are on hand to advise you on your brush strokes. Destinations for 2003 are Leopard Lodge and Omarumba (Hartbeesport Dam), Manyane (Pilansberg), Weesgerus (Nylstroom) and Botshebelo (Middelburg, Mpumalanga)

August 8, 2010

How to paint a Cape cottage landscape in watercolor

Filed under: Watercolor Tutorials — admin @ 5:40 am


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.

How to paint a marble effect

Filed under: Oil Tutorials — admin @ 2:50 am


by Amelia vd Berg

What colours are used in this painting ?
Yellow Ochre
Titanium White
Raw Umber

Other Equipment Used :
A Feather
A Marine Sponge
Ordinary Hardware brush 25mm
Some Cloth
Flat artist brush

Medium Used : Oil on Canvas


Many artists battle to paint marble effectively, but if you use my simple technique you will be astounded by the results. Use your new found technique and incorporate it into your paintings, eg. paint a marble table top with fruit on it for a striking still life.



Paint the surface with a light colour, in this case Yellow ochre mixed with Titanium white.

Initial Texture


Mix Raw umber and a little Titanium white. Add a little medium to the paint. Use a 25 mm hardware brush to “fidget” some of this colour across the surface. The movements must be spontaneous, natural and rather impulsive. Repeat these marks with a darker mixture of the same colour, leaving some of the background showing.

Softening Up


Using the same (clean) 25mm brush to soften all the strokes. Make sure that you do not pick up too much paint. Clean the brush if it becomes laden with paint. This can be repeated for a smoother look.



Use the Marine (sea) sponge. It must be soft. If not, moisten it in water and squeeze it out as best you can. Pour in a moderate quantity of medium into a shallow dish. Pick some medium up with your sponge, but dab it to get rid of any excess before you sponge the medium onto your background surface. Don’t overdo. It should open up some areas on your background surface, ie. lift up some of the top colours.

Soften this effect with a brush. I used a 38mm, but you can use the (clean) 25mm brush as well.



Veining takes a lot of practice. Practice on your palette before painting onto your prepared background. Try to avoid repetition in the shape of the veins. Dip the feather in a darker colour (plain raw umber in this case) mixed with a lot of medium. It should be as thin as water. Cut it spontaneously across the surface, sometimes using a jerky motion or pushing the feather to force it to open up. The movements must be free and do not overdo the number of veins.

Use the 25mm (clean) brush to soften the veins.

Finishing Up


Use a flat artist brush with clean turpentine. Dab some of the turpentine on the brush onto a cloth, getting rid of any excess turpentine. Then cut through some areas, preferable adjoining the veins, right down to the light background. These areas are then softened with the 25mm (clean) brush.

Final Word

The key to mastering this technique, as with all techniques is Practice, Practice, Practice.

Marble also comes in a variety of colours. Any natural colours can be used for e.g. Titanium white and grey as a background. Darker grey or black as the veins. Here is the finished product :


How to paint cosmos flowers in watercolor

Filed under: Watercolor Tutorials — admin @ 2:40 am


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


How to repair a burnt oil painting

Filed under: Oil Tutorials — admin @ 12:59 am


by Amelia vd Berg


The other day my Brother-in-Law had a fire in his sitting room, which almost burnt their whole house down. One of the ‘victims’ of this fire was a painting I had given him as a gift a few months earlier.

burnt1 burnt2

As seen in the pictures above, there is slight damage to the painting, caused by fire. The painting was saved before too much damage was done to it. To repair a burnt painting like this is actually not so hard to do. A few steps and it’s as good as new.

Step 1


Take your palette knife or any sharp, flat object and carefully scratch off all the damaged and scorched paint.

Step 2

With a clean cloth and Mineral Turpentine, try to clean the painting of any other marks left from the smoke and fire.

Step 3


Start to mix and match the colors on your painting.

Step 4


Do not add any medium to your paint. If the paint is to thin, the damage will be seen through the fresh paint. Proceed as normal and paint over the colors that will match the old paint.

Step 5

When you have finished repainting, the final product should look as new. Here is what the restored painting looks like :


How to use texture paste and texture gel in your paintings

Filed under: Oil Tutorials — admin @ 12:42 am


by Nolan Clark

What materials are used in this exercise?

Texture Paste
Texture Gel
Oil Paints


Often artists think that texture gel and texture paste are one and the same, they are however completely different.

We will first look at their differences, then we will get down to their uses.

Texture Paste

Texture paste is a thick, cement like paste. You can compare it in look and consistency to Polyfilla (Used around the house to fill cracks in walls). It dries very quickly and can be built up to even centimeters above the canvas.

Most artists use a knife or brush to apply the texture paste, I often use my finger.

Try not to use texture paste on a canvas that has been stretched over a box frame as the movement of the canvas tends to crack the paste, especially while it is drying.

On the other hand, if you experiment a bit with a stretched canvas, you may even purposefully crack the paste to get an antiqued look.

Texture Gel

Texture gel is a lot thinner than texture paste and can be compared to hand cream in consistency. Texture gel cannot be built up as thick as texture paste as it tends to ‘shrink’ in height as it dries.

The gel can also be applied to the canvas the a brush, knife, finger or any other implement you can find.

The texture gel has a rubbery consistency when dry, so it can be used on any canvas surface.

Using Texture Paste

Ok, enough of the boring details, let’s put our paste and gel to use.

First we can play around to see the differences for ourselves.


I have scooped up some texture paste with my finger and put it down on the canvas to form a ball and two swirls around it. As you can see the surface is nice and rough giving us an interesting texture.


Next I have wet my finger in some water and smoothed the paste to show how it can be tooled the same as putty. You just have to work reasonably fast as the paste starts drying immediately.

Using Texture Gel


Here I have scooped up some texture gel, again with my finger, and added some squiggles onto the canvas so that you can see the difference.


After leaving the canvas to dry in the sun for an hour or two, you can see how transparent and flat the gel has become.


I have now painted a wash of Burnt Sienna and Raw Umber over the canvas. I could have used any colour with the same results, but I needed contrast for the photograph. You can now see that the texture paste has covered with paint perfectly. On the other hand an interesting effect has been created with the texture gel. Why?

The gel forms a smooth surface which means that the paint doesn’t grip as well to it. Thus a thinner layer of paint is over the gel and gives a lighter colour than the rest of the canvas. Interestingly, the thicker the gel, the lighter the colour. This can be used to created wonderful effects in your paintings. Some examples are to create clouds or fields using only one colour of paint. In the example shown below Amelia has applied the texture gel using a stencil to create this wonderful watermark effect.


If you don’t want this effect and only the texture, simply let the first layer of paint dry and repaint it again. This technique along with dry brushing to ‘highlight’ the texture was used in the painting below.


Texture gel can also be used to apply all sorts of mixed media to your canvas before painting. Some of these include serviettes, sand, buttons, etc.

Just remember that both texture paste and texture gel are water based so if you are using them with oil paints you need to do ALL your pasting and gelling BEFORE you start to paint. If you don’t do this the gel and paste will peel off eventually.

Completed Paintings

Below are two painting done with texture gel and texture paste along with some detail close ups.

Texture Paste
lady1 ladyhead ladydress
Texture Gel
lady2 watermark serviette

July 25, 2010

Free Reference Photos

Filed under: Latest News — admin @ 4:20 pm

A collection of free reference photos has been added to the Tools section of the website, visit it HERE

July 22, 2010

Drawing a Lion

Filed under: Pencil Tutorials — admin @ 6:45 am


by Dennis Clark

What materials are used in this drawing?

What paper is used? Medium thickness smooth cartridge paper
What pencils were used? Graphite, 2H, B, 3B, and 6B
What eraser was used? Soft White Plastic


This was a quick sketch, as it were, to keep myself busy during a gap in a pencil Portrait Seminar I conducted recently. While the students were concentrating on the project and keeping themselves busy I made good use of the intervals of spare time. Below is the photograph I worked from :


Transfering to Paper


I used the grid method to enlarge the lion to the correct size. I always do my drawing on a separate paper the same size as the final drawing. I then transfer the drawing onto the final paper. This way I don’t have to erase any construction or grid lines afterwards.



I always draw and/or paint the eyes first before I really do anything else on the subject. Even if the eyes need a touch-up later I MUST be satisfied that the eyes show the character and mood of the subject. It is of no use if the subject is beautifully rendered and the eyes are “dead” . If I cannot get the eyes to look the way I want it to be I will scrap the drawing and begin a new one.

Initial Shapes


I suggest you start with the eyes and then progress to the nose area and then the mouth area. This is the most important area of the drawing. These must match up and dove-tail into each other and form a unit . These must depict the proportions and character of the subject. It must be a recognisable semblance. Spend as much time as necessary in this area before moving on.


Next start to define some of the other distinctive shapes like the ears.


Some basic shading is added to give moulding to the face, don ‘ t overdo it at this stage. The mane is also started to give shape to the face.

TIP: Leave the very darks until the very last.

Lower Mane


Because this area will be very dark, notice the rough shading in before completing this area.

Upper Mane


Define the mane with fast flowing strokes. Be careful and do not cover up the areas that indicate the highlights of the hairs.

Forehead & Nose


The eye area with extra shading applied. Notice the sensitive light shading and the directions of the strokes to indicate the slopes and different planes of the face surface.



The two dots indicate the max length I want the whiskers to be. With a very sharp craft knife cut a very thin slit (opening) at a slight curve. This thin slit is placed over the areas where I want the whiskers to be. We call this an erasing shield.


Now carefully and gently, with an eraser, erase along the length of the slit enough to clean a strip on the drawing. Don’ t erase across the slit. If you do you will tear the erasing shield. In order to give this white stripe volume on the drawing, carefully, with a sharp pencil, underline the white strip to give it a shadow line. With this same shield you can even erase out shorter whiskers.

Completing the Drawing

Next shade in the body of the lion to complete this drawing.


I hope you enjoyed this tutorial.

Don’t forget to post a pic of your lion on the FORUM, we love to see how your art is improving.

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