Artwork: Various brands opaque Watercolor on a Stonehenge Aqua ColdPress Black watercolor paper.

Doodlewash prompt ‘sky’.

This is a case where the scan looks better than the actual piece. I picked up a glow that isn’t really there.

I used watercolor on black paper. I’ve done this successfully before, but I don’t think it was the right combination for the what I was trying to do. I just kept fussing and finally decided I need to walk away. I think I’ll start over rather than trying to get this to go the way I want it too.

But now I know!

Golden Snub-nose Monkey – Pencil to Paint

Artwork-Zebra Zensations Technical Pen, Daniel Smith watercolor and ARTEZA Real Brush Pens on a Hahnemühle Cold Pressed Watercolor Postcard. Brushes: Princeton Neptune Round, size 8.

This painting is what is known as a ‘line and wash’ because it is drawn in pen first and then painted with watercolor.

Before You Start

The BBC has been advertising their new series, Seven Worlds, One Planet, which features the Golden Snub Nosed monkey. Every time the commercial plays, hubby asks me for a postcard painting of one. Trouble is, there aren’t any photos of them on any of the photo sites I use for reference.

This means lots of prep, because I have to come up with my own composition, researching the subject and figuring out how to draw it without taking too much from any one photo.

Recently, I received a Hahnemühle 1584 Notebook (review to come in the near future) which has dot-grid paper in it. I decided it would be perfect for my studies.

First, I did a study working out a pose. I used the dot-grid to help me figure out proportions without using a ruler or getting too worried about being exact (sorry for the shade along the gutter, this was done on the first page).

On the next page, I did a study to figure out proportions of the face.

While working on this, I put some thought into what I wanted from the finished painting, and what ‘gotchas’ there might be.

I was choosing to do a baby, so I wanted to capture that halo of fuzzy baby fur. I also knew that even though in real life the snub-nose is cute, it also looks a lot like the nose on a skull.


(This scan is darkened so you can see the pencil lines. You should pencil lines in lightly)

Using my studies from the 1584 notebook, I penciled in the monkey, focusing on proportions and placement of facial features and limbs.

Not sure if you’re up to drawing this? Art Tutor has a great grid program that will help by applying a grid to your uploaded photo. You can also crop and adjust color and value.


Values= dark to light. When you establish your values, you are deciding where the darkest areas are, and some of the important mid-tones.

The babies have very light fur, so I kept the pen drawing fairly minimal, mostly mapping out the sections of the fur.


I decided that the delightful blue face on these monkeys was closest to a cerulean blue.  Since I also intended to use Buff Titanium, an off-white that easily turns green when mixed with blue, I had to use some caution.

The monkey’s fur was done with a layer of the buff titanium, and a mix of Aussie Red Gold and Monte Amiata, leaving the lightest areas the white of the postcard.  

I used Cerulean blue for the sky, and various mixes of lavender, Rose of Ultramarine, Aussie Red Gold and the Monte Amiata for the rest of the background.  Then I let it all dry.

I’ve never used the color lifting method to try and get that fuzzy halo furry look and decided to experiment.  I began to lift color all around the edges of the fur.  This is done by wetting the brush, lightly brushing where I wanted to lift color, blotting the brush on a paper towel, then dabbing in the same area to pick up the water just applied.  Some of the color comes up too.

Unhappy with the background (I didn’t plan it – I usually don’t, but should have this time since I didn’t have a reference), I fussed with it quite a bit until I spilled water on the lower left corner, and then couldn’t get it to take color.  

I let it all dry.

With a purple Arteza watercolor brush pen (the type where the pen is prefilled with watercolor), I added color and pumped up my values so there was greater contrast. The color in these brushes is more of a dye, so it takes where the paper is too damaged to accept pigment watercolor. I used it throughout the trees to tie the colors together.

I decided that I wanted lighter fur around the face, and I didn’t want to lift more so I grabbed my Uniball white signo and added some white ink.

Overall, this took far longer than my usual daily postcard – about 4 hours.


And Where You Can Buy Them

Hahnemühle 1584 Notebook (this is a new item, so it may not be listed on websites yet)

Hahnemühle Cold Press Watercolor Postcards (review).

Zebra Zensations Technical pens (review)

Daniel Smith 15 ml watercolors:

Princeton Neptune Travel Brush, Series 4750, Round, Size 8

ARTEZA Real Brush Pens

Live Life Like the Gate was Left Open – Counting Sheep #7

Artwork – Daniel Smith Watercolor on Fabriano Artistico on Fabriano Artistico in a Mary Roff handmade sketchbook

You may have seen the meme ‘Live Life Like the Gate was Left Open’, which usually features a photo of a dog running madly and happily. Well, in this case it’s a sheep. Personally, I’m thinking that the gate was not left open, and this guy has lost his marbles.

So I’m claiming it for the Doodlewash prompt of ‘Marbles’.

I saw this photo reference by fsHH on Pixabay and knew I had to include it in my Counting Sheep watercolor sketchbook.

You can read my review of Mary Roff’s excellent handmade sketchbooks here.

Ruddy Shelduck – Postcards for the Lunch Bag

Artwork-Holbein Gouache on a Stonehenge Aqua ColdPress Black watercolor paper. Brushes: Princeton Neptune Travel Brush, Series 4750, Round, Size 8 Photo reference courtesy of kumararunprasad on Pixabay.

Today, my hubby took a duck in his lunchbag.

Doodlewash prompt ‘Duck’.

You know, I was actually trying to find an Australian Shelduck, hence the fiery sky in the background. Then when I went to look up some facts, I realized the Pixabay reference photo I was using was of a Ruddy Shelduck, who only visits Australia via the zoo.

Found in NW Africa and Ethiopia, with a breeding area in SE Europe across central Asia to SE China, this duck is your pretty average duck, although they have a honk and resemble a goose in the air.

Cactus In Cappuccino

Artwork – Daniel Smith watercolor in a Hahnemühle Cappuccino Book. Photo reference courtesy of ArtTower on Pixabay.

Doodlewash Prompt: Cactus

I love painting cactus and was eager to do this prompt, but I wanted to do something that didn’t scream ‘cactus’! ArtTower’s beautifully lighted reference photo fit the bill perfectly.

The Cappuccino book has lovely colored paper that creates a subtle glow when surrounded by darker colors (you can find my review here). I knew it would be perfect to capture the look I wanted. Even though it is more of a sketchbook and doesn’t have paper formulated for watercolor, it holds up to watercolor well.

If you use a lot of water, the paper dimples and gets that crunchy sound when you turn the page (I love that sound!) but flattens nicely. You notice the dimpling on the back of the page but not so much on the front. If you don’t use much water, the paper only dimples a little bit.

And the paper works beautifully with almost any medium!

Lava Lamp – Postcards for the Lunch Bag

Artwork-Holbein Gouache & Van Gogh Interference Watercolor on a Stonehenge Aqua ColdPress Black watercolor paper. Brushes: Princeton Neptune Quill Size 4

Today, my hubby took a lava lamp in his lunchbag.

Doodlewash prompt ‘lava lamp’.

Odd thing for hubby’s lunchbag postcards, but I was really inspired to try and catch the light in a lava lamp so I went for it. I’ll set this one aside and keep it for one of those days when I’m sick or can’t get a card done for some reason.

Parrotfish – Postcards for the Lunch Bag

Artwork: Various opaque watercolor brands on a Stonehenge Aqua ColdPress Black watercolor paper. Brushes: Jack Richeson 713995 Watermedia Pocket Plein Air Brush Set.

Today, my hubby took a parrotfish in his lunchbag.

Doodlewash prompt ‘parrot’. I wasn’t in the mood to paint parrots, but I was into the idea of trying to get that neon glow that parrotfish have.

I went for a stylization and I like the effect I got. I want to do a larger version, though, where I can give the colors more room to play.