Introduction to Watercolour

From her creative studio space in Vancouver, Leslie Redhead shares how to create a beautiful card with watercolours. As a member of the FCA (Federation of Canadian Artists) and the CSPWC (Canadian Society of Painters in Watercolour), she has extensive experience as both an established artist and teacher. Leslie is known for splashing, pouring, and dripping her watercolours on as much as she will brush them.

Using Peerless Transparent Watercolours, Daniel Smith Extra Fine Watercolours, and Winsor & Newton Artist’s Watercolours on the unintimidating size of a Strathmore Watercolour Card, Leslie offers simple and reassuring tips for getting started with you own projects. Try these techniques on cards before you use them on larger canvas or paper to have usable practice pieces!

Watch Introduction to Watercolour above or read the full exclusive article below to learn how Leslie creates her stunning and vivid watercolour paintings.

Leslie shares her thoughts on the filming day and the videos release on her blog,

Interested in the products Leslie uses in Introduction to Watercolour?
Peerless Transparent Watercolours
Winsor & Newton Artist’s Watercolours
Daniel Smith Extra Fine Watercolours
Opus Allegro Brush
Masterson Sta-New Brush Holder
Strathmore Watercolour Cards
Clic’N’Go Watercup
10 Well Palette
Staedtler Lumocolor Markers
Masking Tape

Introduction to Watercolour
with Leslie Redhead


Before beginning your watercolour painting, you will need to mount your paper to a rigid surface. In this demonstration, Leslie uses a Strathmore Watercolour Card as her surface. To keep things simple, use masking tape on the back corner edges to secure the card onto the work surface or a artboard. Traditionally you adhere tape to the front side of the paper, but by placing tape on the backside you will be able to paint to the edges of the card.

1. Washes:

A wash is creates a consistent colour across your paper or across a portion of the page. The watercolours used to create a wash must be liquid so that they flow smoothly across the paper. Peerless Transparent Watercolours are perfect for washes as they already come in a nice juicy form. The type of wash you can create is dependent on the technique used:

Beaded Wash: With your work surface at a tilt, apply a brush stroke across the top of the paper. A bead of paint will begin to form and flow down the page. Pull that bead gently down the paper, letting gravity do most of the work. You want consistent colour with a beaded wash, so only dip your brush into the paint.

The bead can be pulled both horizontally and vertically depending on the look you are going for. When you get to the end of the wash the bead of paint will still be there. Simply wipe off your brush and use it to soak up the bead. If the bead is not removed it will creep back into the paint and create a bloom along the edges of the wash.

Bloom: Blooming happens when watercolour spreads and dries with the water on the page, creating a bleeding effect with whatever wet paint it comes in contact with. Blooms can be both a good and a bad thing depending on how they are used. Most watercolorists will use blooms to create patterns for leaves, flowers, and wherever they wish to have that bleeding texture.

Graded Beaded Wash: Instead of a wash of solid colour,a Graded Beaded Wash will fade out creating a gradient effect. With your work surface at a tilt, create a bead of paint at the top of the area you wish to wash. As you carry the bead downwards, dip your brush into clean water to dilute the paint as you go.

Note: Only paint from top to bottom. If you go back to the top the gradient effect will be painted over turning it into a Beaded Wash.

2. Wet-in-Wet:

Wet-in-Wet painting is the technique of dropping in different colours, or clean water, to a wet area of the paper. Using a mix of watercolours like Winsor & Newton or Daniel Smith allows you to mix original colours to work wet-in-wet with. You can either let your paint drip off the tip of your brush or use an eyedropper to drop-in. The colours will flow wherever there is water, so if you wish to keep the edges of focal area sharp, refrain from applying water to close to it until you are ready. After working Wet-in-Wet it is advised to let the piece air dry as opposed to using a blow dryer. This will leave you with beautiful blooms that can later be incorporated into the piece.

3. Glazing

Glazing is when you apply a wet wash of colour over a dried area to create a new colour. Using this method as opposed to mixing the colour allows the transparent qualities of watercolour to take effect. Once applied, the glow of the colour underneath will shine through the top layer creating the new colour. Use only transparent colours when glazing because opaque colours will lift the paint underneath when applied, while transparent colours will stay in the fibers of the paper. Use both Beaded and Graded Beaded Washes when glazing to create vibrant colours and gradients.

Glazing Wet-in-Wet Over Dry: Gently apply clean water to the already dried colour you wish to glaze. The colour will then begin to flow and spread wherever the water was placed. The more water the farther your colours will flow. You can create clean lines by wiping off your brush and applying straight watercolour or soften edges by using clean water. At this point it is suggested to begin your line work (the veins of the leaves in this case).

4. Negative Painting:

In this section you may use all the techniques demonstrated. Negative Painting is important because in watercolour you are painting from light to dark. Look at the dried blooms you have created and with a pencil lightly draw the shapes of the images (leaves in this case) around those blooms. Essentially, you want to save your light spaces by painting in-between the shapes of the leaves first. By doing this you will be creating the bigger shapes in your painting, opposed to painting them out first and can darken the areas as you go.

Consider this portion like cloud watching; look at the shapes that your watercolours have dried into and form what you see around what already exists. •

For more of Leslie’s artwork visit her website