About this blog

WELCOME! My name is Ann Mortimer and I'm a professional watercolour artist and tutor from Nottingham, UK.

This is a "learn how to" and "problem solving" blog covering WATERCOLOUR TECHNIQUES.

You can look for things that interest you in the blog archive on the side bar when various topics have built up over time!

I'll be covering thing such as colour mixing, negative painting, using masking fluid, laying washes, painting water and all sorts of other things.

Friday, 10 February 2012

Walled Garden step by step demonstration.

Photographic reference.

Some friends of ours showed me this photo of their garden and I was so inspired by it that I gave them the painting I made of it. This is another painting based loosely on the photo.

The shadows across the lawn and the tree and dark leaves in the foreground were what excited me about this scene.

The figures in the distance would be the focal point but the tree with its cast shadows and the leaves contrasting heavily with the pale building and sky would lead the viewer’s eye to this distant point.

Drawing stage 1

I have masked out with masking fluid the people, the window frames, some flowers in the borders and I’ve splattered some masking fluid in the leaf area top left to give sparkle and light.


Here are the colours mixed in the palette ready for the first wash. To paint this scene, I needed greens for the lawn and the leaves, a natural stone colour for the paths and the buildings and tree bark and also some bright primary colours for the flowers. I used aureolin, raw sienna, permanent rose, cobalt blue, cerulean blue, Winsor blue, Winsor violet and cobalt violet and burnt sienna.

I have loosely mingled raw sienna, rose and cobalt blue for the stone colours. Yellows and blues to make the greens, violet, rose and blue for the flowers and cobalt blue, cerulean and cobalt violet for the sky area at the top.

Stage 2

I’ve dropped in the colours wet in wet to set the scene and give a base of colours and tones.

I’ve deliberately kept the lawn area a very pale yellowy green as this represents the sunshine. If I went too dark too soon, I wouldn’t get the important contrast with the shadows going across the lawn later on.

Stage 3

Here I’ve painted the tree using mixes of cobalt blue and burnt sienna once again making sure to leave the sunny areas on the bark very pale while dropping in darker blues on the shadow side. I have brought the shape of the tree out with negative painting, dropping in dark blues, burnt sienna and greens in the spaces between the trunks.

Stage 4

I’ve painted the figures and put more detail and colours among the flowers, using negative painting to establish dark areas between the leaves and to bring one clump of flowers out against another. I’ve put some detail on the buildings but kept the effect soft so as not to draw the viewer’s eye away from the focal points.

Stage 5

In this final stage I’ve painted in the leaves at the top with single strokes of the brush bringing them down low in front of the buildings and house in the background. This increases the sense of depth in the scene. I put the branches and twigs in next joining up the leaves in a natural way. Finally with a dark blue/green mix, I put in the shadows with quick strokes of the brush, making sure not to go over the same area twice. The shadows need to look transparent and so it’s important to drop them in and then leave well alone! A bluer shadow colour was passed over the flower bed on the left, leaving some areas light, with the effect of making the right hand side flower bed look more sunny.


  1. Ann, I LOVE this blog! As a beginner, your information is a wonderful instructional site. Thank you so much for posting your knowledge.

    1. Well that is music to my ears, Cynthia! So glad that it's helping you!


  2. lovely clean work. someone told me to take a look at your work from facebook- anne bonner. maybe you would like to take a look at mine

    1. Hi Moira,
      Thank you...yes, I had already had a look at your work and loved your style. The "poster" look is something I really like with the blocks of colour and bold tonal contrasts. I shall go and become a follower of your blog now...

  3. Hey Ann , love love love the way you gradually brought life to otherwise dull garden. I wish i could do that!

  4. This is stunning a really beautiful painting, they must be so pleased :-)

  5. Thank you Jane...yes I think they were, it was a beautiful garden!