January 2023 Challenge

Each month we have a challenge on Facebook for members of the Diane Antone Studio Members Group, to provide you with daily inspiration and motivation so that you don’t ever have to get stuck wondering what to paint! The private Members Group on Facebook is specially for everyone who is either a member of our YouTube Membership or a supporter on our Patreon. When you’ve done your painting, post it on the Facebook group to share with lots of friendly like-minded watercolor fans. See you there!

This January – learn a skill each day!

There are many different watercolor techniques which we use in our videos and they all need practice. Some of these ones will be new to you, others very familiar. But all of them are fun to do and this month we are making a new year’s resolution to paint a different technique every day of January!

So here is a list of the daily prompts, and a link to a video in which the technique is demonstrated and used.

Happy painting!

#Janulearn Challenge Prompts

Don’t forget to use the #Janulearn hashtag when you post your work on social media!

January 1: Wet in Wet

This video is painted entirely wet in wet and was the first video we ever put on YouTube. The only non wet in wet technique is a bit of scratching in for the tree-trunks. An excellent start for your wet in wet landscapes.


January 2: Dropping in Color

Dropping in Color is when you use the minimum amount of brushstrokes. This dragonfly painting (starting around 5 minutes in) shows that technique being used.


January 3: Glazing in Layers

This is the opposite to wet in wet. Here, you paint a light layer of color, let it dry and then add another layer. And another. Here’s a poppy painted that way. Starting around 12 minutes.

January 4: Controlled Spattering

One of the most fun techniques is simple spattering. In this video you get permission to spatter with gay abandon using brushes and toothbrushes! Spattering starts around 6 mins into the video.

January 5: Using a Waterbrush

I was given one of these by Viviva Colorsheets and was amazed to find how much fun it can be to use. This video was made to try out the waterbrush and turned out to be our most popular video ever! Takes away the fear of painting birds!

January 6: Bokeh or Lifting Out

Bokeh is a popular and interesting method of creating a textured, multi layered background for your painting. This video also shows you how to paint chickadees!


January 7: Wax Resist

The easiest way to give the impression of bark is to use a candle and draw in the resist. You can also use it for water, for example a river or waterfall. Very quick and effective. Starts at about 4:30 mins.

January 8: Scraping Out with a Card

Another way to create realistic tree trunks is scraping out into some thick paint with a cut up bank card. This technique is sometimes called Sgraffiti and can be used for many other things than just trees. Watch this from about 15 mins. in.

January 9: Using Masking Fluid

Masking fluid is one of those things you love or hate. Either way, there is a time and a place for it, and this is one of those times. Watch this video to see how to do it!

January 10: Using a Sponge

Here’s an example of using a natural sponge to adjust the paint to give the impression of foliage on a tree. There is more than one way of doing this. Watch one possibility here. This video also has some calligraphic work with a long-haired sword-liner.

January 11: Backruns and Cauliflowers

Some people think that backruns and cauliflowers are mistakes, but in this style of loose watercolor landscape (and in many of myt florals also) they are part of the plan. However, they have a mind of their own and don’t always behave how you expect. Watch this Mont St Michel landscape develop and see if you can spot the mistakes!

January 12: Variegated Wash

The background to the chickens is painted in a variegated wash. Starting at about 1m in I do a mixed brown wash for the sketch. This is a more interesting way of doing a background. It’s not the same painting as the one in the thumbnail here! Click to view!

January 13: Pumping in Paint

In this video at about 6mins in I demonstrate what is meant by ‘pumping in’. Take a look and give it a try. I also show you an easy way of drawing these sweet flowers.

January 14: Using Salt (and Saran Wrap)

Using coarse salt on a wet wash is effective, and even more so when you add the effect of Saran Wrap to the process. I like to do the two in conjunction, but if you prefer to omit the plastic step, you still get an interesting effect from the salt.

January 15: Using Saran Wrap (and Salt)

The effect of the salt will depend on the size of the grain of salt and the amount of water on the paper. You will discover by experimentation which effects you like. Large grains give more drama, while small grains are more subtle.

January 16: Pen and Ink

In winter when flowers are thin on the ground in the northern hemisphere we often turn to seed heads and the like for inspiration. In this video you’ll get some ideas for how to use ink in different ways to create interesting effects based on dried plant materials.

January 17: Reserving Your Whites

When you want to paint something white it’s often best if you first paint around the subject with a contrasting colour to make the focal point stand out well. Then you can just add a few light shadows to give 3D effect to the chickens, as here. In this video I did the same painting in two colourways.

January 18: Dry Brush Effect

Here’s a landscape where I use a lot of wet in wet plus dry brush to create a soft and misty landscape. I also used some light spatter and a few calligraphic marks to indicate grasses. Why not take a look at this video from 2021 which has lots of things to share with you.

January 19: Loose Flowers from Spattering

We often use a bit of spatter to embellish or finish off a painting, and sometimes it can rescue an otherwise uninspiring work. But here we use a variety of spatter techniques to create this light and easy version of a branch of wisteria flowers.

January 20: Watercolor Pencils

Watercolor pencils can also be used in a light and loose way. Try this technique to create some lovely geraniums and practice blending different colors of pencil in my light and loose technique.

January 21: Scratching out and Painting Water Drops

Practice painting realistic drops of water and try out the effect of scratching through thick paint to create lights on your background. A fun painting to remind you of the beauty of autumn.

January 22: Creating a Landscape

For today’s challenge, an easy to paint Italian landscape. There is a sketch to download if you need help, but you might want to try drawing this simple arrangement yourself. Lots of skills combined in one painting here.

January 23: Pen and Ink Botanicals

If you love flowers you’ll enjoy this practice session in using ink and wash. I drew the flowers, inked them and coloured them with light watercolours – a very therapeutic painting full of skills to practice.

January 24: Painting Roses

There are many ways to paint roses but here is my technique – starts at 14:50 after a warm-up with neurographic art. More learning how to handle wet-in-wet and harmonious colour blends.

January 25: Draw and Paint Seashells using Layering

This is an exercise in layering delicate washes of paint to create a three dimensional shape. You start by drawing the shells and then painting a wash for the first layer, then the details are painted in.

January 26: Ink and Watercolor Flowers

This is an exercise in relaxing and letting go with very wet watercolor and loose application of ink using primitive implements such as twigs to draw with.

January 27: Painting Loose Poppies with Pencil

Here we are painting loose poppies in a stylised way, and making the darks using an intense black watercolor pencil which is ideal for the centres of the flowers. The combination of watercolor and pencil is one of my favorite looks.

January 28: Painting a White Duck

This is an exercise in painting a white object. The trick is to find – or imagine – the other colors which are present on a white object because of reflections, and emphasise those. That way you don’t have to paint a dark background unless you want to. Meet Jemima!

January 29: Painting and Embellishing Birds

In this video we concentrate on getting the shape of a bird right but then we go ahead and have fun embellishing the bird with all sorts of decorations. Of course, you don’t have to go that far, but sometimes it’s fun to let rip!

January 30: Using a Hake Brush

Here we have a lovely autumn landscape in the style of Ron Ranson and using his famous Hake brush. This is an unusual way to paint, very liberating, and well worth giving it a try.

January 31: Watercolor on Canvas

Finally a really new experience and technique for you to end the month. It’s a little known fact, but you can paint watercolor on canvas. It’s a very exciting and creative experience which I enjoy a lot. Give it a try, you won’t regret it!

In Conclusion

So there we are, you have got to the end of the month and I hope you have learnt a lot along the way. You will surely go back and practice the techniques we have touched upon more than once and they will crop up in many future videos as well.

Don’t forget to share your creations on Facebook in the group for members here, facebook.com/groups/dianeantonestudiomembers and if you have any questions please message me here on our website (Link at the bottom of the page or on the menu).