Painting With Watercolours at Art Walk

Whyte Avenue Art Walk was from Friday July 6 to Sunday July 8 this year (2018). For those who came out to see me: thank you!

Process-Banner2Since 2015, I’ve been painting Black and White watercolour paintings while at Art Walk. Why I paint with watercolours at this event:

  • Part of the mandate of being an artist at the Whyte Avenue Art Walk in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada is that you must be creating art while you are there.
  • My usual mixed media pieces involve layering with acrylic gel which necessitates very long drying times.
  • When working on mixed media and acrylic works I also like to work on three to twenty pieces at a time.
  • Acrylics ruin paintbrushes if they accidentally dry with paint on them.
  • Most importantly, I also enjoy painting with watercolours and find that painting in black and white allows you to see the subject matter in a different way.

These factors inspired be to revisit the watercolour medium more seriously in 2015 and I’ve kept it up since.


If the piece I am painting will include a salt-textured background, the piece needs to be pre-drawn and the background painted and salted at home before Art Walk. I didn’t use this method this year, but here are some examples of those types of pieces:

For other pieces I just need to make sure I brought all my supplies to Art Walk:

  • Watercolour paper
  • Pencils and erasers
  • Scratching tool
  • White wax crayon
  • Brushes
  • Black watercolour
  • Pallet
  • Bucket of water
  • Back-up water (for changing the water)
  • Painter’s tape
  • Hardboard to paint on
  • Reference images

First I either sketch the image with a 4H pencil (pressing lightly) or tape the paper down to the hardboard.

If you want any parts of the image to remain white, then use the wax crayon to fill those areas in (not counting background). These pieces all use wax crayon to repel paint in places, the most obvious is the bee’s wing:

If you want darker lines, scratch or press those into the paper. These areas of the paper will then absorb more pigment. I use this technique to make bees to look fuzzy (see above), as well as for details on leaves.

Then paint. Start from background to foreground, and from light to dark. It’s hard to fix something if you have made it too dark. Be aware if you want something to be a soft (wet) edge or a hard (dry) edge. If you’re looking for hard edges allow enough dry time (you can use the back of your hand to feel if the paper feels cold/wet or not). If you want larger wet areas to work with, then pre-wet the overall area with just water (no pigment yet).

Lastly, remove the painter’s tape at a 45 degree angle only once the paper is dry.

Finished pieces created at Whyte Ave Art Walk 2018

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