Sunset in Fog

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

Doodlewash Prompt: Sunset

The moment I saw the prompt sunset, I knew the exact photo reference that I wanted to paint, and I knew my Cappuccino sketchbook (review) had the paper I wanted to use.

I used white gouache for the most intense light and I wish I had just used the color of the paper. It creates a beautiful subtle glow, but now I know!

Leonburger – Postcards for the Lunch Bag

Artwork-Zebra Zensations Technical Pen and Daniel Smith watercolor on a Hahnemühle Rough Watercolor Postcard. Brushes: Jack Richeson Richeson Grey Matters Synthetic Watercolor Flat 1/4 Photo courtesy of kytalpa on Pixabay.

A relatively new breed, the Leonburger was developed in the 1840’s and meant to resemble a lion, though many people think they look more like teddy bears.

Doodlewash prompts: Lion and Puppy


And Where You Can Buy Them

Zebra Zensations Technical pens (review)

Daniel Smith watercolor:



Puppy! – Pencil to Paint Tutorial

Artwork-Zebra Zensations Technical Pen and Daniel Smith watercolor on a Hahnemühle Cold Pressed Watercolor Postcard. Brushes: Jane Davenport Travel Watercolor Brush Collapsible Mini Paint Brush and Jack Richeson Richeson Grey Matters Synthetic Watercolor Flat 1/4 in.

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

Did you know that dogs have over 100 expressions, most of them created by the ears?

Before You Start

Reference photo courtesy of Oldiefan on Pixabay. G

What’s to even think about? This puppy’s so stinkin’ cute and that’s what I want. And I decide that those eyes will be the most important thing in the painting.

I can almost hear some of you saying desperately, “I know I want cute, but how do I get it?” Look closely and take note of:

  • wild, fluffy ears
    • bottom of one ear is higher than the other
  • large, clear eyes
  • lovely chocolate color – hints of lavender and red
  • the slight head tilt
  • width and height of the head compared to width and height of the snout
    • always important but the head is larger in babies of all kinds. Better to exaggerate that than to make the head too small

The one detail I decided to leave out? In the mid background there’s an object that looks a bit like the puppy’s tail, but whoosh, what a long tail that would be. I’m not sure what it is, but it ain’t going into my painting, lol.

I did a Chocolate Labrador Retriever Puppy postcard a while back, and I’ll use the same colors for this painting.


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

Gridlines added via the Art Tutor Grid program.

Truthfully, the shapes in this photo are simple enough that I didn’t need a grid. But I thought it was time to focus on the drawing portion of my postcards, and this makes it easier to show you what I’m doing.

Keep in mind, too, that with experience this stage of the process usually takes seconds. I have to slow down in order to explain it, because it’s so automatic to me now.

I have a bunch of postcards that I’ve drawn grids on. Rather than draw the grid on the card that I’ll paint, I put it underneath. If I can’t see the grid, I use a lightbox (for the grid and the card I’m drawing on. Not the photo reference).

Note that the grids don’t have to be exact. They’re just meant to be a guide.

I did some photoshopping to make it so you could see the pencil drawing and the grid together. In real life, my drawing has no grid lines and it is much lighter.

My last Pencil to Paint tutorial was a peacock, and if you read that, you’ll know that I started with the overall shape and worked inward. I chose to do that because the peacock was a real challenge to fit on the page and there was so much detail, it was important to get those shapes down first.

This is a much simpler drawing, so I started with the exact opposite. Note that many artists always start with the outer shape and work in.

I start with the eyes because want them to be my central focus. Then I draw the nose, the the outline of the head, then the body and then add a little facial detail.

I use the pencil drawing to fit the puppy to the page, establish the major shapes, and place the most important details. I don’t worry about the background at all. This is also the time where I make sure the eyes are the same size and in the correct relationship to one another.

It doesn’t matter at this point if everything is exactly right. I can make adjustments when I use pen (or paint, if I were going to skip the pen drawing). This is meant to be a guide that will allow me to change my mind if I wish to.

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.


I did a pretty detailed pen drawing, knowing that much of it would disappear under the paint. Gasp! All that drawing for nothing?

It’s not. There is a technique’ Grisaille‘ that refers to underpainting with gray tones before adding color. What I’m doing is similar. I’m creating a map for myself, creating a unity to the painting and it’s something that will affect the finished work, whether the viewer sees the pen lines or not.

When I say ‘mapping’, I’m establishing values – light to dark, the direction of the fur, areas of interest and the kind of edges that I want.

Knowing the kind of edges you want is important. Getting them is a matter of practice and has to do with the amount of water to the amount of paint and whether you add paint to a dry area of paper, a damp area, or a wet area.

But what are edges? (feel free to skip this if you already know)

  • hard edges
    • color changes abruptly, lying next to each other with no mingling
  • soft edges
    • the point where color changes is easily seen, but the colors mingle at the line where they change
  • lost and found edges
    • two or more colors are easily seen, but they mingle so much that it is hard to see where the actual change begins.

Obviously, you create these edges when you are painting, but I establish where I’ll put them while I’m drawing. Some examples:

At the top of the head, I just leave the pencil line. This is where the light is glowing off the fur. I’ll create a soft edge where the color just fades away.

I’ll add hard edges around the eyes. Note the distinct little furry shapes along the snout down from the bottom corner of the eye? I’ll use negative painting, painting darker around those shapes to create hard edges at various points. Not too much, but enough to imply clumps of fur rather than single hairs.

You can control where there will be lost and found edges but beyond that you have to let them happen, and they are done entirely with the paint.

It pays to think about edges ahead of times. Those times when you are unhappy with a painting and aren’t certain why? Look at your edges – they might be part of the reason.

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


I start with Raw Sienna for the eyes and a touch along the snout.

Piemontite Genuine is a Daniel Smith Primatek color, made from natural mineral pigments and it is one of my favorites. It is also an expensive color. Some mixes of PBr7/PV19, such as Raw Umber Violet, are similar and usually cheaper, so if cost is an issue they might be a better choice. Another option – Piemontite Genuine is available as one of Daniel Smith’s watercolor sticks.

These watercolor sticks look a bit like pastel, but are stickier. I cut them up and put them into watercolor pans, but you can use them in other ways. The sticks are usually much cheaper than the tubes.

Lavender was added and some Aussie Red Gold. I felt it was applied too thickly and lifted a lot of it, didn’t like the resulting color and re-applied more color. Two or three times.

I was fighting the brush that I was using (I wrote about it yesterday), not happy with the amount of color being put down (too much for this stage). I’m still learning how this brush works so I accepted that my plan was not working and adjusted my strategy.

Switching to my Grey Matters 1/4 inch Flat brush helped. Not that my first brush was a bad one, but it was not right for the techniques I was using. Now I know.

My plan was to have lost and found edges, created with wet-into-wet technique on most of the head and ears. This technique doesn’t work well on paper after color has been lifted. I was using a more appropriate brush, but needed a different technique as well. There are soft edges but many more hard edges than I originally intended.

Lavender wasn’t meant to be the dominant color, but it started to happen, and I liked it so I went with it.

Essentially, I lifted most of the color from my earlier attempt, let the paper dry and painted again. I knew I could do this with the Hahnemühle Cold-pressed paper. As long as I don’t scrub too hard, this paper takes a lot of lifting.

You can see along the top of the head – there is some ugly there that I couldn’t fix. Chances are, most of you wouldn’t notice if I hadn’t pointed it out. But it’s the kind of thing you notice when you are the artist and getting frustrated. I let it go and I believe the painting works even with it.

Lavender is an opaque color, so it hides colors underneath. It can also appear chalky. My challenge was to balance the Piemontite so it made the Lavender glow. Adding Aussie Red Gold to the background, and a little to the eyes, helped. I used Rose of Ultramarine in the shadowed areas.

A wash of Undersea Green was used for the grass,

I added shadow and darkened the pupils of the eyes with a thin wash of Piemontite Genuine and called the work finished.

After Thoughts

I sort of switched gears on you, didn’t I?

This tutorial was written as I scanned in each step, so the details would be fresh in my mind. I was focusing on edges, and suddenly I was writing about changing style mid-stream.

I was conflicted. Should I rewrite the earlier steps and make the tutorial more cohesive, or let it stand and make it a tutorial about adapting? I let it stand and hope it was helpful.

Paintings often go pear-shaped when you meant them to be apples. Being able to adapt can result in something wonderful, even if it isn’t what you planned on. And no matter what happens, you learn something valuable that will make you a better artist.


And where you can buy them

Jack Richeson Richeson Grey Matters Synthetic Watercolor Flat 1/4

Jane Davenport Travel Watercolor Brush Collapsible Mini Paint Brush

Zebra Zensations Technical pens (review)

Zebra Zensations Drafix Technical Pencil, 0.5mm

Hahnemühle Cold Pressed Watercolor Postcard

DANIEL SMITH watercolor:

Back Alley & Playing with the Jane Davenport Collapsible Brush

Artwork – Watercolor on Hahnemühle YouTangle tile. Brush: Jane Davenport Travel Watercolor Brush Collapsible Mini Paint Brush

I was playing around with the new Jane Davenport collapsible travel watercolor brush. I decided not to do a full review on it because I think it has as many con’s and it does pro’s. But I thought I’d tell you a little about it.

Sorry. I made a really short video, but I can’t get it to work.

Rather than having a cap that you take off and on, the brush collapses. You pull on the handle, and the bristles appear. Push it back and the bristles are covered and safe from damage. But if you aren’t careful, it will collapse while you are painting.

It’s small, even at full size, which is nice for travel. But, it’s almost too small and I have a small hand. Plus, it’s easy to mislay. I’ve had to search for it twice already.

The brush is metal, and it’s bullet shape makes it sturdy. The mechanism works smoothly.

The bristles are small – they are bristles, not a fiber tip – and come to a fine point. They hold the point well while you’re painting. I like a larger brush but this size is fine for traveling.

When folded down, the opening is covered so nothing gets in.

The brush holds a fair amount of water for a synthetic.

Overall, I prefer this to a water brush, though it does mean a separate container for water. Most of my dislikes are due to my preferences, the size of both bristles and handle, and the amount of water it holds. The only thing that I think might be off-putting for most is the cost and the fact that the brush can collapse while you are painting with it.

Peacock – Pencil to Paint Tutorial

Artwork-Zebra Zensations Technical Pen and watercolor on a Hahnemühle Cold Pressed Watercolor Postcard.

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

I had a difficult choice to make with this painting.

Reference photo courtesy of AvinaCeleste on Pixabay.

Did I want to focus on the beautiful detail? Or did I want to capture the beautiful flow of the feathers overall?

I decided I wanted the flow, and started thinking of waysto meet the challenge of fitting the entire bird on a postcard.

Right off, I knew that I needed to avoid too much detail. We tend to focus on faces, even with animals, and it was going to be small in this painting.


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

I spent far more time with my pencil drawing than I usually do, deciding what details I wanted, and how to fit it into the small size.

If you’ve ever studied drawing, you have probably come across the idea of *blind contour drawing. Many people don’t see the value, feeling you can’t possibly draw anything worth while.

This is the kind of drawing that makes it worth while. If you do it enough, you can keep your eye on the reference, only glancing down ever so often to make sure you aren’t too far from where you should be.

I drew the outline of the whole bird first to get the overall size and fit to the card. Then I drew the sections for the head, shoulders, back and wings

Then I drew the sections of the tail using the blind contour method, moving back and forth. I did look at the paper each time I reached the side of the bird and needed to move down to the next section. That meant I could look at the paper fairly often, and could easily keep track of where I was. It also kept me focused on the flow of the feathers rather than the detail.

Once I had all this established, I drew in some of the feathery eyes and a little bit of shading to help guide my eye during the pen drawing.

*Blind contour drawing is done by looking at your reference and drawing without looking down at the paper.

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.


The pen drawing was mostly following the pencil, though if you look close, you’ll see that I didn’t follow it exactly. I wasn’t using the blind contour method at this point because I already had my ‘mapping’ done

Having sketched if first, it was easier to see everything the second time, and I made adjustments as needed.

The main difference was that I picked out some of the darkest values and added the texture of some of the feathers. Except for the head and shoulders, I kept my values pretty light. At this size, anything that is overly dark is going to stand out like a beacon.

I decided the background would need to add balance for two issues. The peacock created a strong vertical stripe and to make it worse, I placed it directly in the middle of the card (too busy paying attention to the detail, darn it!). I wanted to add some horizontal detail, and have more of it on the left than on the right, to make it look like the composition was less centered.

A good part of drawing and painting is lying. But then our eyes and brain lie to us all the time so life follows art, right?

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


I had just found a palette where I had collected various brands of paint, and then never used any, after that, so purely on a whim, I decided that was the palette I would use. Why not add extra difficulty to an already challenging project, lol?

Actually, there was a little logic to this madness. The palette had some shiny colors with mica. It doesn’t show up in the photos but this peacock’s feathers do shimmer.

I started with a light wash of Prussian Blue. While the first layer was still damp, I added a thicker wash of the same color to the back, letting it blend in. At this point, I was done with the head, neck and back.

I used Hematite (because it was a shiny gray) for the wings and wall. I started working on the background because I wanted to make sure it was well-integrated with bird. Working back and forth between bird and background made it less likely I’d overdo either at any point.

Leaf green was used along the tail. Quinacridone gold and an unidentified green were blended on the paper, for the foliage and I continued with the gold for the sky. I choose this sky color because it makes the Prussian Blue pop and helps keep the small head and back the focus of the painting.

I used a shiny handmade watercolor from Aquanut – Cosmic Turquoise – for the darker areas of the feathers, working some into the wings as well.

A little Quin Gold was used to warm up the top of the wall. A wash of Ultramarine Violet Deep covered the rest. I let the color fade towards the bottom to balance it with the lighter color at the top. Schmincke Neutral tint has a brownish cast and I used it for shading on the wall and worked it into the bottom of the foliage.

More leaf green was added to the eyes and foliage.

I should have taken another scan at this point but forgot. Sorry.

The last step was to lighten areas of the tail feathers and along the wall by lifting color, and letting some of the under color show through.

After Thoughts

If I were to do this again there are definite changes I would make. I would pay more attention to where I placed the bird so that it wasn’t in the middle.

I would have started the wall just slightly above the wings and made it slightly lower on one side, because I think that would have given the painting a better balance.

I’d choose a different palette. I’m not unhappy with the colors I used, but I know I could have made it better yet.


And where you can buy them

Zebra Zensations Technical pens (review)

Hahnemühle Cold Press Watercolor Postcards (review)