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Watercolour painting techniques with Kelsey May Connor | Art Classes Malta

9 Watercolour Techniques for beginners

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9 Watercolour Techniques for beginners

Watercolour is a great medium for sketches, live fast drawing and mostly for sceneries and ‘en plain air’ sessions. This type of medium might be underestimated next to acrylics and oils, and might not be preferred to Most, however here are a few more advanced and interesting Techniques you can incorporate and experiment with to UP your Water-Works.

p.s Keep 2 sets of brushes handy (wide and flat and the other narrow and pointy), a glass of water and your watercolours.


flat and graded

1. Flat and Graded Wash

Starting from the most important step: the flat wash. A flat wash is when the colour gradient of the paper is all of the same exact colour (as shown on the LEFT). Choose any colour you want and mix it with water (either on a palette or on a plate). Dabble your flat brush, in the watercolour mixed with water and create brushstrokes, from left to right while keeping the same pressure.

A small tip is to keep your paper or sketchbook a bit tilted upwards as this will make any extra water drip downwards so you can then remove the excess with the next stroke.

A graded wash is when a colour fades from darker shade into a lighter or vice versa (as shown on the RIGHT).

Start off from one paper end and paint through using only one stroke (linear strokes)… Put more water on your brush and do another stroke.. Do this until the opposite end is totally faded with water.


2. Salt

Using a flash brush, perform a flat wash with one or two colours on your paper. Pour some salt, diluted in water, on the paint while it is still wet (important) and leave it there until it dries. This creates a beautiful crystal like effect. Great idea for creating a crystallized effect to water, night skies etc..


3. Tissue

1st create a watercolour base/wash on your paper. While it is still wet, grab a piece of tissue and dab it to create a cloud like effect.


4. Alcohol

Rubbing alcohol/Spirit has quite an effect on watercolour; it eliminates the colour completely. With a q tip soaked with alcohol, start creating designs. Once the q tip meets the water colour, colour gets soaked. This results in a great colour fade effect.


5. Crayon

With a white crayon draw a design. Once you’re ready, with a flat paint brush choose the colour you like and paint a wash on top of the crayon. Notice that colour will not penetrate and get soaked by the paper due to its waterproof resistance, thus you’ll be left with some great nice designs.

wet on wet

6. Wet on wet

This particular technique can come very useful especially when painting flowers and scenery. This type of technique requires a wet paper and 2 watercolours. Once you wet the paper with your flat brush, create a wash with one of your watercolours and WHILE it is still wet, apply the other colour either on the previous colour or next to it. This will create what is called a ‘blending and bleeding’ effect.


7. Dry brushing

This technique is the opposite of the previous one. We won’t be using any water this time. Feather out a dry brush; make sure that its either flat or fluffy. Dab the brush it into a colour (do not add any water) and feather/ seperate the hairs of the brush. Paint in an upward motion. Grand for the ‘grass effect’! (I also used brown and green tones to create a more realistic texture of soil and grass).


8. Blow

Some of us find it hard to draw or paint a tree; with its fine branches and fine details one can say that it requires a lot of time to create a realistic tree. This type of technique may help you resolve this problem and it is VERY easy. Placing a drop of watercolour mixed with water (brown) on your paper, and with a straw start to blow from one end to the other where the drop and you will see that the drop of colour will begin to spread into different directions, mostly upwards just like a tree. Tip: Move your paper around if you want the colour spread into a different direction.


9. Sgraffito

With a needle or a pin, scratch your plain, blank paper. Either you scratch a design or in my case I created vertical lines to create a ‘Wooden Like Effect’. Dabble a flat brush into a colour mixed with water and wash the paper. Only wash the paper once with the colour. You will see that the scratches are darker than the rest of the paper.

Hope you Enjoyed it and found this Interesting! Let me know how it goes…




Creating Value out of something with no Value.

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Creating Value out of something with no Value.

Have you ever witnessed something beautiful and wanted to create something out of it? 

Maybe NOT many of us will…it is not mainstream thinking. We’ve come to take much for granted.

The people who personally know me, know that I am a big lover of animals, nature etc and less than a week ago as I was walking back home around Cospicua and came across this beautiful big leaf on the floor. As soon as I picked it up, I started to think about what I can do with it… shall I put it in a glass vase for decoration? Maybe create it into a pressed leaf in a frame? And then it clicked.. 
What’s better than a Natural Canvas? 
The whole inspiration and idea for this was to create something beautiful and alive onto something that is considered as trash or too Ordinary to See, Observe and get inspired from. Creating Value out of something with no Value.
Turn something of Less Value into High Value. The Art of doing more with Less

We artists tend to rely on a multitude of external and commercial resources and call ourselves open minded, inspired and observant,, yet we sometimes Miss the Everyday Opportunities which remain hidden before our very own Eyes.

Here is the process of the Painted Leaf :


1. With a black fine pen, I started sketching a rose. I wanted something vibrant and colorful, something that can translate ‘Life’ onto the dull, dry leaf. I made sure that the size of the rose is big enough to fit onto the whole leaf. (Notice that since the texture of the leaf is dry, the pen will start to fade and smudge onto your fingers so be careful to use a good fine pen)


2. Using the RIGHT Media. My favorite medium is acrylics so I used those, also because Acrylics is dense enough for it to cover the Leafy brown texture and not leaving it transparent like watercolours do. I used white for the lightest parts, pink and purples for the colour of the rose and black for the darkest shades. I did not use a palette, I just simply put one colour and mixed onto the leaf.


3. As you can see, I turned the emphasis/focal point onto the centre with more details and more shadows, whereas as it goes further out the lighter the colour gets.

4. Once it dries you can put glazing spray onto it to preserve the paint and leaf.


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How to create that 3D Art?

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How to create that 3D Art?

5 Shading techniques that will make your art Stand Out.

Shading is the process of adding value to create the illusion of form (3 Dimensional perception) via light which communicates depth and volume to an object. Shading is absolutely critical in creating a realistic and convincing image.


Different Shading techniques illustrated by Kelsey May Connor

1. Smooth Shading (Blending)

This technique is mostly used for fine portraiture. For the surface to be as smooth as a baby’s bottom, you need to use a fine non textured paper. Start off with a dark graphite pencil – 7B or 8B and start with achieving the darkest values of the object, reduce pressure gradually for lighter tones and change the pencil gradient accordingly. to get rid of these tiny grainy particles and achieve extra smoothness  you can use a blending stump (a tissue, cotton or a putty rubber are also good alternatives).

2. Cross Hatching

Cross-hatching is a shading technique in which one set of lines cross over another. The density at which the lines cross over each other determines the value that is produced. For darker areas the closer and denser the lines . For lighter areas, the further apart the lines need to be.

3. Hatching (Linear)

If using Hatching lines are drawn in the same linear direction. By drawing lines closer together and reducing space, darker values are created. Leaving more space between lines results in lighter tones and values. For spherical objects, hatching lines are curved slightly hence reducing that shading rigidity and following the rounded contours of the object, creating a smoother image.

4. Doodles and Scribbles

The more swirly and scribbles you create in the darkest part of your object, the darker it gets. The density of the scribbles determines the value produced therefore.

5. Dotting (Stippling)

If you are short tempered and get nervous easily, then this technique is not for you. But rest assured that the result of this technique can be very eye pleasing. The density of the dots determines the value produced therefore, denser dots for darker tones. A pencil or a fine pen/marker would be ideal. For lighter Shades reduce the frequency and density of the dots to allow for more space which  contrast gives the illusion of light.

Happy Drawing !



How to Draw a Caricature

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How to Draw a Caricature

A Step by step guide on how to draw a funny Caricature and Master Exaggeration.

Ever wondered how your Caricature would look like?


Caricature by Kelsey May Connor

I am sure you have come across a caricature at least once in your life and felt amused at how an artist can capture humour and trigger your emotional senses, with just a few rough lines, be it a street artist in some populated city centre or a famous caricaturist’s illustration on your local newspaper.
The ultimate key for drawing a caricature is observing the facial features and exaggerating! First, you need to decide upon an angle you want to draw the subject from. In my case I chose to draw it from the full front.

Starting from the face shape, determine the size of the forehead,  the curvature of the cheekbones and the shape of the chin. If for instance, one has a big forehead you need to exaggerate and amplify that specific feature.



Look closely at the eyes… In my case my eyes are almond shaped hence I amplified and exaggerated the shape to make it look elongated.

If the person you are drawing has big eyes, make the pupil bigger and add more creases around. You do not want to exaggerate a lot on the eyes. The eyebrows are very important as everyone has a unique brow shape and this can completely give away or change the look of the caricature.

Heading to the nose… determine the shape of the nose and what proportion of the face it takes and exaggerate accordingly.


If the person is smiling with their teeth showing, study how the teeth look like; if they’re perfectly aligned or not… Same goes for the size of the teeth, analyse if they’re big in proportion to the person’s mouth or vice versa… EXAGGERATE.
When it comes to caricatures, the head is the ‘fulcrum’ the slightest change in the head shape can radically change all the other aspects of the face. The Head shape is the most important part of the whole caricature, portraying all the exaggerated features.

In addition the head always drawn bigger in proportion to the body; thus making the caricature look funny and humoristic due to its in-normality. When exaggerating the head shape, ONE strong observation is all you will need. It could be as simple as observing the model’s dominate feature being; a skinny face, a large chin, or a small forehead.

This is only optional but if you decide to continue drawing the body all you need to do is look closely to the shape of the figure (in my case a smaller torso from hips). The body should not be as detailed as the face such that it captures more attention than the head.

Understand well the nature of the body you are drawing. For example; for a strong muscular character you should opt for a V SHAPED frame, on the other hand for less muscular and strong postures you can opt for a PEAR shaped or OVAL shaped frames.

…Do not forget to add some distinguishing items or postures, this will further  give the caricature more character and personality.
Finally I added some soft shading for more depth.


Caricature by Kelsey May Connor

There you go! Go ahead, and give it a try.

Happy Drawing !

How to Master Realistic Eye Drawing

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How to Master a Realistic Eye Drawing

A Step by step guide on how to draw realistic and 3D eyes in 15min.


Eyes are the most beautiful facial features us humans have. They speak to you, they draw you in and they have a story to tell. Drawing an eye can be a very tricky subject to master. Its depth, fine details and watery effect can make it very difficult to replicate on paper if you haven’t got much experience and practice.

That said it is absolutely not an impossible feat, so do not get discouraged just yet!

Maybe you’ve already heard it many times before but it is true the more you practice and the faster you do in practising the more fluid you’ll become, and why not maybe you’ll be able to draw a realistic eye in 15 minutes next time!


Start: To practice an eye you ALWAYS need to have a high resolution picture in front of you were you can zoom in and focus on each and every tiny detail. This will make it easier for your eyes to focus and read and interpret the details.

Starting from the outline of the eye; notice the almond shape and the curved inner part. It is important that one do not draw very sharp lines for the outline, the eye needs to be soft and with smooth curved lines.



Illustration by Kelsey May Connor

Draw a circle for the iris and a smaller one for the pupil in the middle of the eye (depending which direction the eye is looking), add outlines for the caruncula ( inner part of the eye) and the lower and upper waterlines. This is also very important; people tend to forget that we have a water line, and these are very important to draw when you want to get a very realistic and 3 dimensional eye, Now add the eyelashes which are attached to the waterlines! After, we add the line of the eyelid.



Illustration by Kelsey May Connor

Now for the interesting part! Shading. Yes, we leave the eyelashes for last as they are the darkest and drawing them beforehand may lead to smudging. We Start with the pupil using the darkest pencil gradient, then we shade the outer part of the Iris towards the pupil with a lighter shade. Now, we add and details accordingly to create that reflective and mirror effect.

IMPORTANT always leave a white part on the iris for that shiny twinkle were the light hits and reflects against the eye, this makes the eye appear more realistic.



Illustration by Kelsey May Connor

Next step is adding shade to the inner part of the eye and the eye ball. Here again leave some white for light and add some tiny veins if the eye you are drawing has any. After, you can add some more shading on the eyelid according to light direction.

Illustration by Kelsey May Connor

Now we can add the eyelashes.

Be Careful not to make the popular mistake of drawing all the eyelashes in the same direction or as straight lines. This will make the eyelashes look fake compromising the whole subject. Look closely to which direction each eyelash is pointing and draw each eye lash one by one.


Illustration by Kelsey May Connor

There you go, remembering all these steps along the way can help you improve on your skills and hopefully draw beautiful realistic eyes.

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Take care and happy drawing!