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Watercolour sketches painted
outside of class

Click here for Weeks 1 to 5 where I am a relative beginner and Weeks 26-30 where I have improved a lot :)

My Teacher is Barry Coombs.

This page is about the paintings that I did at home while in the course but not following the instructions. These are all done in 2013. I just got tired of little coloured pots and painted goldfish, cats, skulls and other silliness instead.

We moved in the spring of 2014 and here are a few experiments done when I started painting again.

Skull Watercolours


Absolute silliness with a Grim Reaper. Remember this is just for fun. I make no claims of art! Nevertheless the skull subject is interesting and I think I will paint more later, minus the eyes and hood, and bloody teeth. The skull is quite a complex shape and is a good exercise. It is also not quite as boring as little pots. There is so much imagery and symbolism attached to skulls that we project lots onto the plain images. A skull tells a story no matter what.


This is a quick sketch using my annoyingly large brush and not trying to be too literal. It's much the same exercise as the clay pots in lesson 20 but with a different subject.

It's my favourite skull so far. I'm using the triad colour scheme we used when we painted the rusty metal cans.

I like this subject. Next I will try to do side views. I'm working from reference photographs. I don't have any skulls.

skull skull

2 Side views. I'm trying to model the skull without overworking them. I know I can draw them almost perfectly with a pencil. This is not my goal. I'm trying to suggest the shape with a small number of broad strokes.

skullMy grandson came and visited today. He walked out with a few skull paintings. Great appeal for 12 year olds. I made another one. This one looks like it's grinning. I'm working from a photograph and it is surprising how asymmetrical the skull actually is.

I think I will need to paint a few more. A mild obsession maybe.



A log washed up on the launching ramp at the boat club. My first experiment trying to paint water.

Painting water is extraordinarily difficult, at least for me. It's not hard to suggest water but it's very difficult to actually show different waves-sun-wind combinations. There is lots of formula instructions for water. The log comes from a photograph I took.

sketch of water log log

Some experiments sketching water. What 'reads' as water, what is the essence of water. What is the meaning of life... OK. OK. Back to earth.

log log log

The colour helps but still amateur. I think at this skill level I could make murals in Greek restaurants.

log log log

The Sparkly water one is not as terrible as the rest. Both sailboat pictures are from photos I took last summer. The anchored boat was off the Toronto island. I started sailing but got becalmed. I motored to the Island and went swimming. The light was hazy so there was no sharp contrasts. I think I captured it well in the painting but I'm not sure its very pretty. I guess reality is not always best in paintings.


I tried another painting of sparkly water, it's similar in composition to the one above. This painting is twice the size of the previous sparkly painting. I wanted to show more motion in the boat.

I painted in less contrasty colours to show more detail in the boat. In the smaller painting I had trouble showing the sails so they looked logical. I think the bottom one is a better boat. Water maybe not as sharp. to be continued...

log log

This is quite still water and very new for me. The 3 painting are in the order I painted them. The trees certainly improve. Maybe the water too!!? I figured out that the perspective was wrong. Since I was almost at the same level as the sailboat, I needed to paint them higher than I had as compared to the horizon.


I think I could also apply to make bad murals for Chinese restaurants now with the egrets. Water is not so bad though.

Landscape is a whole different way of painting and thinking. I can see improvements but the problem is really not the painting but the seeing. As usual it's all in my head.

log log

Working on trees and sky. Not so simple! again. to be continued...


cat watercolour cat watercolour cat watercolour

Quick sketches of cats. The middle one I made into a greeting card. They are all based on a photo of Jenny, (she is the cat in the right painting) with different colours. She is actually doing some birdwatching.

cat watercolour cat watercolour cat watercolour

More little cat paintings. They are just plain fun to do and I don't know when to stop. Each represents a different experiment. For example this is the first white cat, and I'm playing with backgrounds. The angle of whiskers makes a difference in the expression. Also slight modifications of the nose.


Koi are just fancy goldfish. Once in Japan I saw a fish pond at the golden pavillion and a bunch of tiny schoolkids were calling to the fish: koi, koi, koi, koi.

They are very pretty and satisfying to draw. According to Feng shuay, having a koy picture is good luck and brings you prosperity.

Goldfish koi sketches Goldfish
Goldfish Goldfish Goldfish

I did a few goldfish. I was sick of using the big square brush and wanted to get back to the wet on wet with my round brush. Little Koi are a good subject. I found some photographs online from Koi dealers. The last one has a background I drew from a photo I took at the boat club earlier this week.

I think I will make a few greeting cards to use. I'm starting to have a large pile of experiments.

2 pots

Experimenting with a nice new round brush.
TITLED: Conversation.

The new brush is great. The painting all done with hard edges shading.

Since I'm not planning to do much with the paintings I'm not worried about experimenting and ruining my "art". I'm not on hallowed ground here.

Little flower3 Months ago I would not have been able to draw this in this way. A quick little sketch maybe 15 minutes in all.

This summer I'm going to sit in my garden and paint more flowers. This one came from a bouquet a friend brought when she came for dinner.

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