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.

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!

Painting rain for Australia

Artwork-Daniel Smith Lunar blue, Undersea Green & Venetian Red on Hahnemühle William Turner Cold Press

I’d originally planned to do something more complex, but realized it would take some time. I may still do it, but for now I wanted to get something out so I did this quick abstract.

You can read about his challenge ‘Artists Can Make a Difference: Paint Rain for Australia’ at Angela Fehr’s website.

I did this painting on William Turner Cold Press (not to be confused with , Hahnemühle’s William Turner printer paper) one of my favoritist of watercolor papers because of the fantastic texture. You can find it at:

Leaf Sheep – Postcards for the Lunch Bag

Artwork: Daniel Smith Watercolor on Hahnemühle cold press Watercolor postcard.

One of the wonders of the Internet, photos of these real life little sea slugs that resemble sheep went viral last year. So, of course, I had to paint one. These guys are one of very non-plant critturs that can photosynthesize.

I’ll have a Fun & Easy step-out showing how to draw one coming up in the near future.

DANIEL SMITH watercolors

Hahnemühle Cold Press Watercolor Postcards (review)

Hahnemühle Cold Press Watercolor Postcards (review)

A Blessing of Narwhals – Postcards for the Lunch Bag

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

Be sure to check Doodlewash on Monday for my review of a beautiful Mary Roff handmade sketchbook.

Did you know that Narwhals are a toothed whale species that have none, one or two teeth? Male narwhals almost always have one overgrown tooth, that becomes a long tusk. The poor females usually don’t have any teeth at all.

A group of narwhals is called a blessing.

Doodlewash prompt ‘Narwhal’.


And Where You Can Buy Them

Hahnemühle Cold Press Watercolor Postcards (review).

Zebra Zensations Technical pens (review)

Daniel Smith Watercolor Half Pan Set of 15 Ultimate Mixing Set  ( review

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

Chocolate Labrador Retriever Puppy – Postcards for the Lunch Bag

Artwork-Zebra Zensations Technical Pen and Daniel Smith watercolor on a Hahnemühle Cold Pressed Watercolor Postcard. Brushes: Escoda Aquario Petit Gris Mop, Series 1130 Size 12 . Photo courtesy of Pezibear on Pixabay.

Did you know, that until 1960, the only color considered desirable for Labrador Retriever’s was black.? But black labs carry the chocolate, yellow and silver genes so they kept popping up, and they’re beautiful, so eventually the dog world wised up and all these colors are popular and bred for, these days.

Doodlewash prompt ‘chocolate’.

I don’t use many browns other than burnt sienna and occasionally a little burnt umber. I tend to mix other colors with these two to get the brown I want or mix purple and greens. But I do love Daniel Smith’s Piemontite Genuine.

It pairs well with Lavender. The challenge for this painting was to get that sheen of a healthy dog’s coat and I think the two were perfect. I sort of regret painting this particular scene on a postcard. A larger size would have allowed me to play with the sheen and all the textures more easily. One of these days, I’ll have to paint it again.


And Where You Can Buy Them

Hahnemühle Cold Press Watercolor Postcards (review).

Zebra Zensations Technical pens (review)

DANIEL SMITH Extra Fine Watercolors 

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