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Using Tracing Paper as a protection while painting with Watercolours

For those of you who paint with watercolours, the disappointment of smudging wet paint or dropping a spot of paint in an area that was meant to be either unpainted or left plain will be well understood.

I remember dropping a blob of black paint on a proposed plain area of a painting of two Black Cockatoos. The drop was about 10mm diameter. I was a little taken aback by it to say the least. In that case I was able to add leaves to the composition and it went unnoticed to other people: but not for me. I was disappointed because the composition was adversely affected. For awhile I experimented with plain paper overlays but that interfered with the development of the painting.

To prevent a recurrence of that event, I now lay a sheet or part of a sheet of tracing paper over the picture. This has delivered a few benefits:

  • it enables me to be aware of where I am painting within the overall composition;
  • protects large areas of the picture from unwanted marks and smudges;
  • provides a smooth resting surface;
  • prevents skin oil from ruining the hot pressed paper surface; and very importantly,
  • protects the composition.
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A Couple of New Special Brushes



I have opted to try a few new brushes in recent weeks to see how they perform. Normally I use Raphael Kolinsky 8408 series for my watercolour bird paintings. For skies I would have used a wonderful #10 brush to apply a thin wash of Cerulean Blue with a touch of Mauve or even just a little of Sepia or Raw Umber to warm the clouds.

While in Paris two years ago I visited Senneliers Art Shop (Magasin Sennelier:

Sennelier Art Supplies St Germaine buildings & art ParisSt Germaine buil;dings & art ParisDSCF3968

If you want a great discussion on art materials etc then visit this wonderful shop just east of the Musee D’Orsay on Quai Voltaire. Without checking the price of this Raphael #11 Le “803” brush I just added it to my collection of items in my hands at the time. I drew a long breathe when I got back to the hotel and checked the prices.

Not to worry. This brush is now very much proven itself as the go-to brush for big sky washes and under coating foregrounds. I even use it to paint grasses and bark on the trees as in this latest landscape:

Free to Grow As You Like Karri trees on Rocky Rd Warner Glen WA (3)

In Australia they can be purchased for about $185 AU and while expensive I cannot imagine working without it.

The second new brush compliments the Raphael 803. I have only ever liked using one Windsor and Newton brush: #6 Pointed Round. Again I found it a superb instrument for painting wispy fine features such as leaves and grass. It carries a considerable amount of paint and allows fine lining for finishing.

Both brushes glide well, sit comfortably in the hand (amongst fingers); hold excellent quantities of paint that flows freely as you want it to.