JDayMinis, 1:48 & 1:12 Scale Minis, Laser Cut Designs too.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Miniature Transparent Watercolour Workshop 2

For this second watercolour workshop I want to concentrate on the transparent paints themselves. To better express what I mean by transparent watercolours, it is a colour that is painted on the paper but still lets the light of the paper show through and if you cover that painted area with another transparent colour it will let the previous colour show trough. This results in a brighter, clear painting which is perfect for miniatures because they are so small you really want more contrast in the light and dark areas but not muddy looking from a distance.

Opaque colours have more white pigment mixed in with them, sometimes called gouache paint. They do not let the white of the paper show through or the previous colour. In schools they often use opaque colours in the paint boxes. I also like to avoid really staining colours, they are less forgiving than transparent. Although I have a degree in Fine Arts and a BEd in Art and taught art in high school, I never was able to study watercolour painting but was always fascinated by paintings I had seen. Finally in 1997 I started to learn how to use watercolour paints by reading all I could. I kept a journal as you can see in the third photo. I would recommend keeping a small journal of your painting experiences. I still use it. It is a wonderful resource where I can go back and see what colours or inspiration was responsible of parts of a painting I might want to try again. I have taken many wonderful workshops too and have recorded the palettes of various artists, everyone seems to find their favorite style and colours, I hope you will too.


In the journal I listed the colours I used in most of my miniature paintings at the time I was painting some of the Helen Allingham reproductions I showed in the previous workshop. I really believe that by using just a few wonderful, permanent, nonstaining paints you can create a lovely miniature.
1.Holbein Aureolin
2.Windsor Newton Rose Madder Genuine (I used to use genuine rose madder but it fades)
3 Yellow Ochre, a bit opaque but important for the stones and cottage
4.Windsor Newton Cobalt blue
5.Windsor Newton Burnt Sienna
6. Holbein Cobalt Violet

In my notes for the Helen Allingham paintings, I wrote I used Aureolin to create the bright greens
Rose Madder for the roof etc., Yellow Ochre, walk and cottage, Burnt Sienna for walk, chimney & roof
Cobalt Blue for the roof, windows, sky, over yellow for green areas
Cobalt Violet for roof, Aureolin again over blue for green
Notes like this can be so handy to refer to over the years.

For more variety in colours I recommend, Windsor Newton Permanent Rose, Daniel Steel Quinacridone Coral and Gold, (love all the quinacridone colours by DS), Windsor Newton, Cobalt Turquoise (a colour you just can't make well by blending colours), Holbein Ultramarine Blue, Windsor Newton Transparent Yellow (almost lemony) and Rowney Veridian green. There are so many more colours I love but you can paint so much with a limited palette and it really simplifies the blending.

You can see a listing of many of the paints I use in the plastic container. I have named each of them for my own reference and the stars represents their colour fast properties from Hilary Page's book I mentioned last week.

I also show a photo of two essential colour wheels, great to study the basics of colour blending. Michael Wilcox book, Blue and Yellow don't make green or how to mix the colour you really want. This is an excellent book. Since some primary colours or red, yellow and blue are either on the warm (more yellowy or cooler side (more to blue) when you layer colours or mix them it is important to understand what you are blending to get the results you want. In the colours I have mentioned, Rose Madder genuine is a cooler shade of red and permanent rose is a warm shade or red.

You can see I took the masking tape off the Helicopter, just need to mat and frame it now. I don't usually paint on an easel for watercolour but it goes keep cat prints off the paintings when I'm not working on them.

When I first started doing mini paintings I thought if I mask taped off a number of area then I could work with the same colours for each painting and let them dry while I'm working on another as shown in the second photo. I don't recommend masking tape for the minis because if you leave them for too long the tape leaves behind a residue. It comes off fine if you finish it within a month or two. You can kind of see the yellowy residue on the edges in the second photo. Now I just draw lightly around the outside edge and try to not go outside the lines. I am a strong believer in painting outside the lines however!! but maybe not in this case, lol.

The third photo shows a couple more of the brushes I like to use that I didn't mention last week, Cornelissen Miniature Pure Kolinsky and Isabey 0 Kolinsky for very fine details.

Next workshop I will get started with a mini painting, thank you so much for looking and sharing your comments. I will try to answer any questions in my workshops too.


  1. Jean I love your work ! I love watercolour but I could not paint for my life sake. I'm in awe, Rosanna

  2. Jean your miniature Water colours are beautiful. I've never tried painting with Water Colours only Acrylics or Oil. I will give it a go one day..xx

  3. Me ha encantado la mini clase sobre pintura, volvere a tu blog e intentare llevar un diario como recomiendas.
    besitos ascension

  4. I'm so excited to see these posts! Your paintings are so beautiful, so tiny and detailed! I can't wait to read more about your process.

  5. I'm fascinated! is already difficult for me to paint with acquarellli, then make them so small, it is truly an amazing company!
    many compliments!

  6. Jean, I just read through both entries and love it. I once studied watercolor with a locally famous watercolor artist as a teenager and occasionally dabble in it for mini's but haven't been happy with my work. I think I'm going to copy and paste your info into a WORD document to keep in one of my notebooks for reference and information. I've tried some acrylics but besides being amateurish, they are heavy handed. I get discouraged. So thank you so much for this workshop! Your piantings are lovely.


  7. Even in this tiny size, your reproductions are so close to the real thing that I recognized the original paintings from them immediately.

    Do you work with a magnifying glass? It must be a strain on your eyes to work in such detail, and so small. The results however are beautiful!

    I am now determined to try my hand at it. I am very enthusiastically awaiting the next tutorial! (I have to add that I am enthusiastic, but my expectations are realistic and I am NOT expecting to have an exhibition soon, or at any time after!)

  8. It's so bautiful. Your watercolours are stunning.

  9. Wow- what great information you are sharing with us! I look forward to reading more- I have always felt a bit intimidated by watercolors.

  10. Thank you for writing this wonderful watercolor workshop, Jean. I'm already learning so much, much more than I already knew. Looking forward to the next installment!

  11. Firstly, Jean, you are such a giant in generosity because your workshops are worth so much for people like me. There will be little or no opportunity for me to go to real workshops like this here even if I pay. So THANK YOU!

    You are so disciplined in your approach! Just a simple process of recording what colours you have used yet so effective! For me, it is just exercises in trial and error or luck , every time! I am going to start this habit soon. I had thought art is all about "feel". Actually it is like most thing, a lot to do with practice and discipline and yes, lessons.

    Can't wait!

  12. Wonderful pictures and great information!!!
    Thanks' a lot :-)
    Synnøve :)

  13. Thank you so much everyone, you are each so thoughtful for stopping by to have a look and leaving comments!
    If any of you do decide to give it a try please let me see photos of what you do.
    Lize, I did work with a magnifier with the more detailed mini paintings.
    Kim, I agree, watercolours can be really intimidating. No covering the painting up as with acrylics and oils.
    I hope those of you who are interested will give it a go. Painting is a wonderful, relaxing, exciting thing to do.
    Mini Hugs, Jean


Thank you very much, so nice of you to take the time to leave a comment and to visit my blog!


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