Tag Archives: watercolor




I started drawing cityscapes mainly as an excuse to play around with the colors orange and blue. I really like how they turned out. The stars are done by not marking that area and instead allowing the paper to show through. After I put the color down I would go back with my brush pen and outline the buildings.

Lansing MI CityScape

For this I used a reference picture of the Lansing skyline. The large tower is the Boji tower; at 23 stories it is the tallest building in Lansing MI. For this drawing I used a toothbrush and white-out to create the stars.


I wanted to put a twist on the cityscapes and try a countryscape. It’s sort of ironic that for the cityscapes I included stars, but here in the rolling countryside of the above drawing there are no visible stars. I could say it was a cloudy night, or maybe it’s a commentary on the solitary nature of rural living… the truth is I just got lazy.

Watercolor Cityscape

I gave my markers a rest and pulled out my watercolor brushes to paint this final cityscape. I found my first lesson in watercolors, If I mix an orange on my palette then lay it on top of a blue wash it’s not going to stay a true orange. I still like how it turned out though, It definitely has more of a decaying feel to it, almost like an ancient floating city.

Watercolors – What I Know So Far

I’ve been curious about watercolors for a while now. They have a lightness to them that I really like. Exploring watercolors feels like my natural next step. Though I have much yet to master when it comes to drawing and always will, the allure of color is strong.

From the library I have taken home dozens of books on watercolors and have devoured them all. For now I’ve focused mainly on what to buy when starting out. I want to make sure I start out on the right foot.

What I Know About Colors:


Above is my notes on what colors to start out with. As you can see the opinions are many and varied. Most of them are based on the author’s personal preference with little or no logic behind why these colors are preferred.

In the end I decided to go with none of these suggestions above and instead plan on going with a list I found on HandPrint.com Bruce the owner of HandPrint.com seems to have a limitless knowledge of color and watercolor paints. I plan on going with his suggestion of a basic palette of:

Winsor Yellow (PY154)
Quinacridone Magenta (PR 122)
Winsor Blue GS (PB 15:3)
Winsor Green BS (PG7)

I’m keeping it small to start out with. Bruce recommends these colors largely because of the range of beautiful colors you can mix from these basic colors. To start with, I’m going with Winsor & Newton brand watercolors because those are the ones Bruce seems to prefer for these pigments, but I’m looking forward to expanding my palette later with other brands. Especially M. Graham paints which I have heard many good things about.

What I Know About Brushes:


As with paints I found many different opinions about brushes. The prices of a good brush can vary tremendously. I almost had a heart attack when walking into a local paint store and finding a two-hundred dollar watercolor brush! I almost gave up my watercolor ambitions right there. Fortunately I found that there are many affordable brushes out there that will work just as good as the “top of the line” brushes.

Because of my limited budget I’m planning on buying two of Cheap Joe’s Legendary kolinsky sable round brushes. I’m thinking sizes #4 and #8 to start with. The Legendary brushes are affordable and come highly recommended. I’m also planning on buying a Holbein Hake brush for washes.

What I Know About Paper:

Not much. It comes in different weights (measured by how heavy a ream of paper is) and different levels of smoothness (hot-pressed, cold-pressed and rough). I was struck by something I read in the Basic Watercolor Answer Book: “What if you create your masterpiece and it’s on cheap paper? Think positive and be prepared. You never know when you are going to ‘hit it'” Good words of advice.

I’ve already picked up a pad of sampler watercolor paper to try out all the different types. I plan on picking up a pad of 140 lb. cold-pressed watercolor paper to use for practice. I’m leaning towards 300 lb cold-pressed for the real thing, but I’ll have to try it first to see for myself.

So that’s what I know so far! I’ve set up my wish list over at Cheap Joe’s, now I just have to save up the money. I’m itching to begin painting, reading about watercolors is one thing, actually painting with watercolors I imagine is a whole different thing. Like they say: “There’s no substitution for the real thing” or as Bruce advises me: “Stop reading and start painting!”