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Line and wash seedheads

Painting using a line and wash (or ink and wash) approach is an easy and versatile way of producing a piece of art that can incorporate both loose painting and more detailed work in whatever proportions you prefer.

This step by step will take you through painting poppy seed heads but it can be used for any subject.


In this example I will show you how to paint a loose image without drawing and then add some detail using a fine liner pen.


I have used minimal and low cost materials to show what you can achieve without spending a fortune on materials.


The equipment I used are

winsor and newton cotman paints in cadmium red, indigo and cadmium yellow.

A size 10 watercolour brush

A cheap fine liner from hobbycraft.

140 lb watercolour paper



Step 1

Using your three colours mix some purple, greens and oranges too to give you a wider range of colours which will sit nicely together as they are all mixed from the same three colours.

Without drawing anything start painting the shapes of the seeds heads. Try to paint them in different colours, varying the heights and positions.

I find that going straight in with paint forces me to focus on the overall shape and not get distracted by details.



Step 2

Continue adding more seedheads until you have something you are happy with. You can drop colours into wet areas to create beautiful effects or drop a little water into the paint before it dries to create unique blooms. These all add to the overall effect and create interest and texture. You can also add some leaves but don't feel you have to fill the page and you can leave white spaces too.


Step 3

Leave your painting to dry. Go away, make a cup of tea or even paint a second image.



Step 4

Now is the fun part. Use your fine liner (or whatever pen you have handy- it could be a dip pen or just a good old biro) and start to add details.

I have used black here but you can add colour too

You can outline your painted images, add details where needed and add extra images that are just sketched without any paint. You can add as much or as little as you like. I find this part nice and relaxing as there is no need to rush.

Try holding the pen loosely at the very tip to create looser, more energetic marks. Press harder to create stronger lines, hold the pen in different ways to create different marks. Experiment - add dots, hatching, outlines, fill in areas.



Because I liked the effects that I had created and the way the colours had mixed i decided not to add any details to the painted seed heads but added some extra seedheads using the fineliner .


Every time you try this you will create something different from before and learn something new and each time is a step in moving forward in your art journey.


I hope this blog is helpful and I would love to see what you produce. Joe x



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