Posts Tagged watercolor


I have just realised how long it is since my last post. Sorry – I will start posting more regularly now that I am out of hibernation! So much has been happening. The highlights are that I have sent my paintings off to the Mall Galleries for the annual RI show in April ( see Events) – This is my first year as a member and it felt really strange not having to ‘submit’ my work. I still half expected some notification that they had not been accepted for the exhibition!

I have also been painting for an exhibition that I will be having in my studio/gallery in Gloucestershire in May to celebrate a new dvd which I’m filming next week. I’m currently planning the content, choosing subjects and techniques and deciding what I am going to talk about! The exercise above is one of the little ‘experiments ‘ I have been playing with to help me make my decisions. I will post more news about the dvd after it has been filmed.

Autumn Glory

I  am sorry that I have been so quiet for the past few weeks on my blog.  The days are never long enough and this autumn  has been so spectacular that I have been  too excited to sit at the computer! I have been making it a priority to get out into the sunny hedgerows and immerse myself in  all the inspirational subjects just waiting to be picked.

The other day  the light was just dazzling.   It picked out the edges of the teazels and danced on the cobwebs that  curled their way through the  seed-head tendrils. Further long silvery strands  of cobweb stretched between plants – tightropes for tiny spiders.


The sunshine  simply pierced through gaps in the berry laden hedges creating infinite patterns and designs. I have never known  the hedges to be so full of colourful rosehips, blackberries, haws and sloes as well as long beaded necklaces of  bryony berries. All   this intermingled with leaves in every shape and  hue.  Spectacular.  The colours seem especially intense this year  and I am soaking it all up to store inside my soul to feed off through the monochrome of winter.




I am planning  a series of  paint experiments  to try and capture some of the colourful semi abstract  patterns that I have seen in the hedges.I am also planning to do my blog more regularly  .. so please watch this space!


2013-12-28 10.53.40

detail from ‘Autumn berries’ by Ann Blockley


A windy walk

I spent so long on the computer yesterday that  I was desperate to get out and stretch my legs.The weather was looking less than promising outside but I decided to go nevertheless and was glad I did. It was one of those days that could not make its mind up whether to rain or shine. There was a strong breeze and I could see the animals in the field  were alert,as if waiting for something to happen. The grasses were dancing and I noticed the shiny leaves on one of the trees shivering and  glimmering.   The pheasants were socialising in the middle of the country lane   as we approached but  soon clattered away into the undergrowth. I looked into the tangles by the path and noticed one bird cowering and watching me. For a moment I thought it was wounded-but no- it too  flew away clumsily. It was long enough  for me to absorb the intricate dappled disguise  of his feathers.  Further along the track I saw a white bird. It was an albino pheasant. It scuttled away   but  with no hope of camouflage in the colourful hedge. It  stood out starkly from a background of interwoven stems and stalks.  The red details on his tiny head added a rich focal point.


As I entered the field at the end of the lane the sky was darkening to a leaden blue. A silver birch tree gleamed  brightly against this backdrop, quite dazzling in its contrast. Suddenly the sun shone out and  a flamboyant rainbow  swerved down onto a silver birch, shimmering through the silvered foliage.  In the distance deep clouds faded to light on the horizon, broken by misty vertical streaks of  pewter  as the rain  descended. ‘A wet into wash  with confident broad downward sweeps of the brush  to an inky foreground’ , I thought to myself. Elsewhere, in contrast, pale  shafts of light pierced through the dark sky where the sun found  a space to sneak through.  A heron was flapping low over the field, half gliding and half flying.  As I watched, its mate appeared and the two birds played and cruised in the blustery layers of breeze.

Simple pleasures.

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‘Come rain or shine’ Copyright Ann Blockley. Featured in ‘Experimental landscapes’ book



Watercolour Brushes

I promised to tell you about the brushes I use to create my paintings. Firstly I want to say that  I am not a ‘materials junkie’. I don’t feel the need to get the latest brush or believe that the most expensive is necessarily   the best option. It is easy to fall into the trap of thinking that ‘if only’ you have a certain colour, medium, brush shape or brand of paper that all your painting problems will be resolved!   Having said that, brushes that shed hairs or do not have a lovely point  can certainly be discouraging so I wouldn’t go for the cheapest brands.  I am very hard on my brushes. I  get too involved in the painting process itself to remember to look after them properly therefore I don’t always feel I deserve fantastically expensive brushes!  I  have a mixture of  sable hair  for the finest work and synthetic/sable mixes for  broader areas or for images using  other mediums such as acrylic paint. If I am working on a gesso or collage surface I may use much cheaper acrylic style brushes which are more hard wearing. The pictures below are all ones  I use with actual watercolour painting.


  Round brushesDSC_9201

I use a selection of round brushes.  To create first washes and big backgrounds I use at least a size 16 and sable where possible. I have several brushes on the go, using a different one for separate colour mixes. This means I don’t have to keep washing my brush in between different colour sections of  the wash which wastes so  much precious paint.  I am miserly about that! I also use a smaller brush, say size  6-8 (it is not critical) for more detailed areas and very occasionally a really small one for a fine detail although the point of a rigger would do just aswell for this.

Flat brushes


I do love my flat brushes!   I have all sizes from 2″  to 1/4″.  This has reminded me that I must get a bigger one too! I like the way you can create an ‘edgy’ wash and you can use the flat shape to paint around things in a more quirky, geometric way than  with round brushes.  You can also use the actual shape of the brush to create geometric shapes and lines either working in the direction of the  subject or at right angle to it    ( for example the trunk of a tree or fencepost).   These qualities  help create  a more unusual, less ‘pretty’ interpretation of the subject .  The brushes illustrated are synthetic. I prefer this to sable in a flat brush as they are  firmer and  you have more control.

 Other tools and brushes



I have recently started using rigger brushes and can’t understand why I left it so long. I am now addicted!  They have to be good quality sable and I prefer the long, thin, most flexible ones.  Armed with these you can create wonderful fine lines- either straight or long and meandering. Perfect for flower stamens and for grasses and branches.  The photograph does not illustrate this but I also use quite firm stubby acrylic brushes sometimes. They are good for scumbling on layers of paint or lifting colour out of a wash.  I have also photographed my palette knife and scalpel. The palette knife is great for splattering dots of liquid paint, using  just the flexible tip.  I also use the edge to ‘draw’  lines with or drag pools of paint around.  The scalpel is for scraping damp watercolour away to create patches or lines of pale colour. I use its diagonal edge parallel with the paper to do this, not digging in.  There are other other ideas of how to use the scalpel on page 26 of my latest book ‘Experimental landscapes in watercolour’ . It is available from my website  shop:



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