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Posted in art, creativity, watercolour painting

Back to basics: Watercolour techniques Days 1, 2 and 3. More colour mixing and layering

As the colour mixing chart took so long to complete, I left the rest of the lessons for Day 1 and combined them with Days 2 and 3 for a mammoth painting session. Although I enjoyed the actual painting I was spending more time trying to clean up my set of colour pans and washing out the mixing palettes so in the the end, I popped to The Range and bought some squeezy tubes and two more mixing trays. This meant I had exactly the same colours as the painting tutor and I could leave my dollops of colour in the palettes to use at a later time. I learnt lots more about mixing colours and had great fun trying out the different techniques.

As I said in my first basic watercolour techniques post, the colour chart took me a long time to do, so although I watched all of the lessons for Day 1, I didn’t complete all of the practical tasks. When I got my new paints, I decided to make the chart again using the new colours so I could see how they would mix.

The second lesson was on colour value which basically means how light or dark a colour is. We learnt how to change the hue of a paint colour by gradually adding more water. Here are the results with different colours:

Finally, we learnt how to mix colours and dilute them to make almost black and white shades. The first two swatches were made by blending all of the different dark colours on my palette and tiny amounts of the warmer colours. It took a while to get the colour right but was worth persevering. Our teacher advised that these shades are softer than pure black and compliment the lighter shades that were going to be painting later on.

For almost white shades, we were taught to make a grey mixture and dilute it with lots of water to create super soft, pale tones. This then creates a very translucent colour which also shows the white of the paper. I made a couple of flower shapes to demonstrate and then added darker colour to the centre.

Day 2 was all about layering different colours. We started off by layering ‘wet into wet’ by tapping one colour into another. For this technique, we created a diluted colour swatch on our paper and then tapped another diluted colour into the corner of the swatch. This made the colour bleed into the first colour and created a lovely gradient effect. The trick was to ensure the paint was watery enough to create a glistening sheen on the paper when you tilted it in the light.

For the second lesson, we layered wet paint over dry. We started by making a colour swatch (permanent rose) on the paper and then left it to dry before adding a different colour (cobalt blue), slightly overlapping the first. We then let it dry again, before adding another colour (lemon yellow), overlapping the second. This allows you to create even more colour variations such as the purple and green which was created here:

On Day 3, we were introduced to colour bleeds. This involved adding a rectangular swatch of colour to your paper and then adding a second swatch right beside it whilst the paint is still wet and touching the tip of the brush to the first swatch. This makes the colours bleed into it each other and creates some wonderful effects. The amount of bleed is dependent upon how much water is used. As you can see, my yellow and red paints didn’t work as well as I didn’t use enough water.

I hope you’ve enjoyed looking at my water colour techniques work and maybe it has inspired you to have a go yourself. In the coming lessons were going to be using what we’ve learnt to create an abstract piece and then we’re going to learn how to create florals. I’m super excited to do some more.

Posted in art, watercolour painting

Back to basics: Watercolouring Challenge Day 1

This week, I’m taking part in an online Beginner’s watercolour course called Show Me Your Florals. This free course comes complete with a workbook, daily demo videos and tasks to complete over a period of 1 week. For Day 1, the focus was on mixing basic colours to create a chart. I spent over 3 hours making it and now have back and neck ache so I hope it proves to be useful! I certainly enjoyed mixing the paints but wasn’t so keen on washing my small mixing palette repeatedly!

The full chart is made using 9 basic colours which are from my Daler Rowney tin. The artist who is running the challenge says it’s best to work with squeezy tubes of watercolour but I’ve already splashed out on new brushes and really couldn’t afford to buy more new paints so I’m sticking with my travel tin of little paint pans which I’m sure will be okay. I’ve also only got some of the suggested colours so I’ve chosen a few other similar ones from my palette.

The diagonal which goes from top left to bottom right shows the original colours and the other squares are the colour produced when mixing two equal amounts of the labelled paints. The chart has been done on Strathmore cold press watercolour paper 90lb weight and each square is 2 x 2 cms.

It was interesting to see how many different colours and shades could be created with the 9 basic ones. The artist also showed us how to can add more water to create a much paler version of the colours too.

A close up of the top left of my chart
The top right hand section
The bottom left section
And finally, the bottom right hand section

If you are new to watercolouring and want to try a little paint mixing, I can recommend making one of these charts to help you choose colours for your projects. However, bear in mind that it takes a while to make. Particularly if you only have a small mixing palette like I do and have to keep running bowls of soapy water to clean it.

Day 2’s lessons popped into my inbox just after lunchtime but I’m going to continue to stay one day behind and work on it tomorrow (I still have a couple of tasks from today to do too). Also, if each of the activities takes in excess of 3 hours like this one did, it might end up taking me until at least the end of October but I’m sure it will be fun and I’ve learnt lots already.

Hopefully, I’ll be able to share pictures of the rest of the challenge but it may take a while as the light is starting to get a bit rubbish now with the cloudy weather and limited daylight hours. Have any of you done a watercolour course before? Did you do it online or did you go to a proper class with others and have personal support from a tutor?

Posted in compassion, mental health, wellbeing

Monday Matters – Self soothing activities for emotional regulation

Photo credit: Johannes Plenio.

Today marks the beginning of my new ‘Monday Matters’ feature in which I will present different ideas on how to live a happy life and increase your general wellbeing. My first post is on managing your emotions using self soothing activities and features lots of ideas for self care and relaxation.

Recent research by Professor Paul Gilbert, a psychologist who developed Compassion Focused Therapy argues that we have three emotional regulation systems in our brain, namely:

  • The threat system – for detecting danger, based on emotions of anxiety, anger or disgust.
  • The drive system – enabling us to have the motivation to do, achieve and acquire, sparking excitement.
  • The soothing system – helping us to manage stress, creating feelings of contentment, safety, trust and connection to others.

All three of these systems are important, but issues can arise when one system dominates. If threat presides, we end up feeling constantly anxious and worried. If we spend too much time in drive mode, we can become obsessed with being better and having more and this can lead to stress, perfectionism, burn out and depression. However, If we were always in soothing mode, we would never get anything done!

Many of us find that we have very active threat and drive systems but rarely use our soothing system. By investing time on activities which sooth us, we can greatly improve our wellbeing. Of course, what is considered to be soothing, depends on the individual but here’s a list I’ve collated to give you some ideas.

  • Wrap yourself up in a cosy blanket to enjoy your favourite warm drink
  • Light some scented candles or burn some oils and turn down the dimmer switch
  • Go to the park for a gentle stroll and feed the ducks
  • In hot weather, enjoy an ice cream, in colder weather, make some warming soup
  • Look at photographs from a happy event e.g. a holiday, your wedding, a celebration day.
  • Spend some time in nature e.g. woodland or a forest and look for signs of the current season, or do some ‘forest bathing’ (to find out more about this stress busting pastime click here. Of course you don’t need to book a holiday to try this technique out but you do need somewhere dry to lie and soak up the atmosphere).
  • Flick through your favourite magazine (I love Breathe magazine which is all about making time for yourself).
  • Set aside some creative time to enjoy your favourite craft such as sewing, card making or collage
  • Watch something funny, such as a romantic comedy or your favourite sitcom.
  • Run a warm bath and add bubbles or a bath bomb (I love the ones from Lush as they change the colour of the water and smell delicious)
  • Play some upbeat music and have a sing song and a dance
  • Go out in the warm sun and feel the heat on your face
  • Play with a pet (I love having snuggles with my hamster Kikki, when she lets me!)
  • Read some inspirational quotes or some positive affirmations (I like to write these in my BuJo)
  • Engage in rhythmic activities such as doing a jigsaw, colouring on or painting
  • Take your phone or camera out on a nature walk and take lots of pretty pictures of your surroundings
  • Lie on the grass and watch the clouds float by
  • Get yourself a drink and savour the temperature and flavour
  • Go bird or squirrel spotting in your local park
  • Enjoy a massage

I hope my post has given you some ideas to try. If you could spend 10 minutes, half an hour, a morning or afternoon doing something just for yourself, what would you choose?

Posted in Blogging, Business branding

A mini audit of my brand

For Day 2 of the free WordPress ‘Branding and growth’ course, the focus is on your brand and how your blog communicates what you are all about to visitors. It invites you to consider if the presentation of your site is consistent and focused and suggests you make one update to reinforce your brand.

I chose to make changes to theme but discovered that my current choice had become obsolete and retired from service! Therefore, in the end, I looked at alternatives and decided on ‘Scratchpad’ which seemed to suit my requirements. As well as changing the theme, I also created a custom header using Canva and added a lovely brush font for the blog title. I’m quite pleased with how it looks and hopefully, it will give readers an idea of the focus of my posts.

There are lots more changes I would like to make but I need to do more reading before I start to add further customisation. I hope you like the changes I’ve made so far. I would be interested to know if you have used one of your own photographs as the image for your header or if you chose an image from a copywrite free site like I did. I’m hoping to have my own image in place at some point but it always seems to be too dark for taking indoor photographs at the moment and it’s only Autumn!

Posted in Blogging, Setting goals and intentions

Setting goals for my blog

Today, I’m starting the free WordPress course on branding and growing your blog. I’ve just set myself some new goals which I’ve recorded in my BuJo but thought I would create a post identifying what they are and how I plan to go about achieving them so that you lot can have the chance to help and support me and hopefully cheer me on!

Goal 1: Establish a new weekly feature on my blog called Monday Matters and consistently post each week until at least the end of 2019

I generally schedule a blog post at the beginning of the week anyway so I thought it made sense to create a little more consistency. Hopefully, by writing my intention here it will help to keep myself accountable.

Goal 2: Publish a post at least twice a week for the next two months

This one is pretty self explanatory and with my new Monday feature, I just have one more to plan for each week.

Goal 3: Gain 20% more followers in the next three months

With consistent posting and improved branding which the free course should bring, hopefully this will happen! People have been really supportive so far and I’ve got some lovely comments and plenty of likes so I think other bloggers are enjoying my content.

Have you set any goals for your blog this month? If you have, I’d love to hear them and you can be sure I will cheer you on too! If you’re also doing the challenge you can find my post more easily if I tag it with #bloggingbranding apparently!