Welcome to my watercolor and doodling tutorial, where I’ll be sharing with you how I use these artistic techniques to lift myself out of sadness and bring some joy and positivity into my life.
I’ve always found that creativity is a powerful tool for improving my mental health and helping me overcome difficult emotions, and in this tutorial, I’ll be taking you step-by-step through my process of painting a calming background and then adding uplifting doodle motifs on top, embellished with gold and white. Whether you’re dealing with depression, anxiety, or just feeling down, I hope that this tutorial will inspire you to tap into your own creativity and find some peace and happiness through art. So grab your watercolors and let’s get started!
Talking about Brushes
Art can be made with just one brush. No, we can go a step further and say that Art can be made without any brush at all! You can paint with a stick, with a bit of sponge or a cloth, and these days with the non-toxic paints we have you could even paint with your fingers without coming to any harm!
But most people choose to use a brush of some sort for their watercolour journey. I was greatly influenced as a young painter by the inimitable Ron Ranson and his advocacy of the Hake brush. Ron was a traditional painter gone rogue. He was an engineer for the first half of his life, but upon losing his job in his fifties he picked watercolour painting up as a hobby, and it captured him. He happened to come across a Japanese brush used for broad strokes and incorporated it into his evolving style, and together with one rigger and one flat that was all he ever used in his paintings.
You might not want to go that far. As a result of this self-imposed limitation, Ron’s paintings while beautiful did lack some of the variety people now crave. You can always recognise a Ron Ranson by his loose, open style of landscape, heavily influenced by Edward Seago. And that’s probably one of the main reasons why most people have a collection of brushes which far outnumbers their needs. If I only had that brush which “x” uses then I’d be able to paint like “x” – so often said and yet so rarely true!
In my studio I have about a hundred watercolor brushes within arms length. They are round, flat, oval, long, short, filbert, mop, sable, nylon, goat, hog, just about anything you can make into a brush has found its way into one of my jars. But for any painting I use at most four, sometimes only one, rarely more complicated than a simple round.
The prime determining factor of which brush I choose is the size and subject of the painting I am going to attempt. For small paintings, I use a size 5, 7 or 9 round, and for larger ones I will use a 9, 12, and 14 round. I might use a mop or a hake for background washes, and I might use a 1/2” flat for that purpose too – and yet again I might paint a sky with just a size 12 round. I like to think that serendipity and the mood of the moment contributes a lot to the choice of brush that I make.
If you want my recommendation for a set of brushes which will get you started, then I would say buy a good quality selection of rounds. Synthetic sable is the best and I would purchase a size 7, 10 and 14 probably, to cover most options. I’d also suggest a 1/2” flat for quick coverage, and you can use this brush for straight lines too so it has a double function, unlike the mop which is rather limited to background washes and large areas. I would then later add a size 3 rigger to do grasses and anything else that required lines.
The main requirement of a brush is that it holds plenty of water and keeps a nice point. You will see various brushes recommended here on my website, but personally I prefer those which I get from Drawell in Japan. Soon we are hoping to have these brushes available for shipping within the US. Watch this spot for more information!
For this painting I used my Meeden 24 set of Artists‘ Watercolors which you can find here. I also used Finetec Coliro Gold and Silver paint set which is here, my Princeton Aqua Elite size 12 round here, a Meeden round palette here: and a Uniball gold pen here.