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Painting In Watercolour

  • Using Tissue Paper To Add Texture

    Try something different for texture!

    It’s always nice to try something different with your paintings. I sometimes use tissue paper to add texture to my watercolours. It’s a really simple technique and very effective.

    All you need is some stretched paper, or a board or canvas, PVA glue, water and a glue brush, tissue paper and of course your paints

    Cover your painting surface with a thin layer of PVA mixed with a little water. Scrunch up your tissue paper and then lay it on the PVA surface. Cover the tissue paper with another thin layer of the PVA water mixture and leave to dry. You will end up with a nice crinkly surface to paint on.

    Alternatively, draw out your design on your stretched paper/canvas Choosing different colours of tissue, scrunch up your tissue, tear into the rough shape of the area you want to fill and stick on the piece of tissue. Keep doing this until you have filled every section of your picture. Cover with a thin layer of the PVA water mixture and leave to dry. Now you can work into your picture with your paints.

    It’s all up to you and your imagination now. How about trying the same technique with lace or paper doilies? Or maybe netting or string.


  • Chinese Brush Painting

    New Products and Techniques

    We have some beautiful new Chinese brush painting sets now available to buy in store or online.  They would make great presents for someone looking for a new hobby, and we’ve put together a brief guide to Chinese brush painting, in case you needed some more information.


    An Ancient Chinese Painting Technique

    The technique of Chinese brush painting has existed since about 4000 B.C.  Traditionally the style involves everything from Buddhist religious paintings to landscape and figure painting. There are various different styles involved in the traditional technique such as “blue and green landscapes” which use bright blue, green and red pigments and “ink-and-wash landscapes” which use vivid brushstrokes and different concentration of ink to create images.  Particularly well known are the flower and bird paintings which broke off from more general decorative styles to form their own genre.  The subject matter of this style usually involves flowers (such as plum and cherry blossoms, orchids, bamboo), koi fish or trees (cypress and pines).

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    Materials and Methods Of Chinese Ink Painting

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    The distinctive Chinese painting style is closely linked to the particularity of the materials used.  Most importantly is the Chinese Brush.  This is similar to a western watercolour brush but it thins to a much finer tip which allows for a wide variation of line.


    The specific method of brushstrokes is particularly important to creating the style.  It is hard to explain in words how this works, especially as it is so centred on movement.  Here are two links to videos which show the vital energy of the Chinese brushstroke technique.  You can find a wealth of other videos on youtube which will help you to understand the various techniques.


    images (1)How do I use the Chinese Ink?

    The ink used for Chinese painting is usually ground down from an ink cake or stone (you can use other inks but the powdered nature of the Chinese inks mean that you can create different densities of ink which you cannot get in quite the same way with a liquid ink.)  Chinese painting is generally done on Chinese Paper or Silk.  Chinese Paper has been made with different materials throughout history including pulp, old fishing nets and tree bark.  Modern paper is usually machine made and is sometimes called rice paper in English.  The paper is similar to watercolour paper in that it varies in weight, absorbency and surface texture.

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    If you fancy giving Chinese Brush Painting a try, why not check out our related products.


  • Watercolour Paper 101

    Confused about Watercolour Paper?

    Whether you are starting out with watercolour, have had a bit of practice or are a seasoned user you will probably know that watercolour requires a specific type of ground to work on.  Due to the essential use of water, sometimes in large quantities, in the process normal drawing papers are often not suitable for your work, as paper can buckle or spoil effects due to the way it absorbs liquid

    .Watercolour Paper

    So you might be thinking, grand, give me some watercolour paper then, and suddenly have found your self with another heap of confusing letters, numbers and textures to choose from.  If you are feeling a bit at sea about which water colour paper you should be using, never fear, we are here to break down the options for you.


    To begin with let’s set down some basics.  Watercolour paper comes in different surfaces and weights.  When you are looking at watercolour paper you should see a piece of information which tells you the GSM (Grams per Square Metre) of the paper.  This tells you how thick the paper is.  Standard machine weights of water colour paper are 190gsm, 300 gsm, 356 gsm, 400 and 425 GSM.  As a frame of reference normal printer paper is generally around 80 GSM, so this should give you an idea of how much thicker watercolour paper generally is.  Paper which weighs less than 300gsm will probably need to be stretched before use or warping may occur.  Heavier paper does not need to be stretched but is generally more expensive, so this is another consideration you may have to factor in to your choice.

    Stretching paper does not have to be an ordeal but it is another stage of preparation which takes time if you choose to do this.

    It is basically done in two steps.

    1. First, place the paper on your drawing board and wet it thoroughly and evenly with cold water and a small sponge (you can use another tool but a sponge is the best way to get an even wetting). Do this quickly and carefully because you have to move on to step two whilst the paper is still wet.
    2. Stick the paper to the drawing board using brown gummed paper tape all round the edges. It should overlap the paper by about 2cm. Leave the paper to dry naturally before using. Do not worry if it looks wrinkled as it will flatten as it dries.


    If you still don’t feel confident with stretching your own paper, you can watch this detailed tutorial, to see what we’re talking about.

    Textures of Paper

     Texture of Watercolour Paper

    The second piece of information you will have to decipher is the paper texture.

    Machine- made watercolour papers come in three textures:




    Hot- Pressed


    Hot pressed watercolour paper is the smoothest option.  Its fine grain and low level of tooth (so basically lack of textured surface) makes it better for large even washes, fine detail and work which combines pen and ink work with watercolour.  Because the smooth surface does not allow the paint to collect in pockets, paintings on this kind of paper will also dry quicker.

     Cold- Pressed (or NOT)


    Cold-Pressed paper (also known as NOT because it is not hot- pressed) is more heavily textured than Hot-Pressed paper, but less so than rough papers.  This intermediate texture makes it the standard choice for watercolour artists as you can get the benefits of a bit of texture without having to deal with some of the technical issues involved with a really rough paper.  This surface may not be suitable for very fine detailed work, especially if it is linear as it can distort your lines due to the texture.  For all other kinds of work this paper is the most versatile of the watercolour paper textures as most other types of work can be carried out on it.  It is probably the best surface for beginners or if you are still unsure about your technique, or will be using a variety of techniques.



    Rough paper does exactly what it says on the tin.  It has the most textured surface (or tooth) of the watercolour papers and creates very specific effects due to the way that the paint pools in the indentations on the papers surface.  The bigger and bolder your work is, the more likely that rough paper will work for you and it is not really suitable for fine detail drawings.

    It is worth baring in mind that there is no international standard for what constitutes any of these textures and so while this gradation will always be similar different manufacturers may have slight differences.  For example you may find that one manufacturers rough paper if more textured than another’s.  It is worth trying different brands to see which one works best for you.  Also bare in mind that the way that you work and the effect you want to produce will largely dictate which paper is best for you so what is good for someone else may not be what is best for you.

    Choosing your Format

    Watercolour paper is generally available in several different formats the majority of which we stock here at iartsupplies.  You can buy your paper in gummed pads, spiral pads, blocks or single sheets from us.  There is also the option to buy your paper in rolls or by metre but unfortunately not from us. If you would like to check out the ranges of watercolour paper we carry you can find the selection here, or visit us in store.

    Again the format of the paper that you choose is probably largely going to be dictated by the type of work you are going to produce and also where you are going to be producing it.  If you want something more portable you may want to consider a spiral pad, whereas if the conditions under which you are painting favour it you may select a larger single piece of paper.  Remember that it is important to consider both the limits of the conditions in which you will be working as well as the desired outcome to produce a positive creative experience.

    Did you Know?

    Bockingford and Saunders watercolour paper, two very well known watercolour papers which we stock are both made in St. Cuthburts Mill.  They have been making paper sine the 1700 and still use one of the only cylinder paper moulds left in the world, which is over 100 years old and was built in 1907.  Here’s a nice little film they put together to show you their process.  Cylinder mould paper making is a craft and a lot of skill goes into making sure the process runs smoothly, and this is reflected in the quality and the price of the paper produced.

    Hopefully, this little breakdown has helped clarify some of the confusing information out there to do with watercolour paper.  The important thing to do is not to panic, and remember that the choice ultimately is yours.  The best thing you can do to help make your decision the right one is have a clear idea of the result you want, or be open to the varying results you can achieve whilst you experiment and find what is right for you.  In the creative game this is one of the most important elements which we often forget, that what feels right is also an important consideration.  The only way to find that out is to give it a go.


    Fiona MacHugh

  • Olivia Rose

    Fantastic Forms, Beautiful Colours and Individual Spirit

    Read this interview with artist Olivia Rose to find out more about her work, the way she produces it and why.  Her artwork is truly inspirational for its fantastic forms, beautiful colours and individual spirit.



  • Wonderful Rainbow Artwork

    Research for Inspiration

    I have been researching the last few days for business, looking for new ways to help with our business and, all the while doing so I have had the joy finding many talented designers, artists, textile designers and more. I find this part of business to be exciting and fun,  as it really helps to see what other artists are up to out there around the world, and seeing their unique way of creating.

    Having been to art college and studying textiles I am like a sponge soaking up all the beautiful, colourful and unique works of like minded people. I look at someones work and think, "I could do that". It really urges me to want to go create but, in reality I just do not have the time to create (well I do to be quite truthful but, having two kids, a house to tend to and business to attend to every day I am far too tired to even think of creating. I get as far as "ohhh I really like that crafty make or painting and, just have to go create myself" but, never do it. Time is precious and I am now beginning to realise that any little time to create will be all the worthwhile.

    Anyway, as I was looking through the newsfeed of facebook I found the wonderful rainbow artwork of the artist, Jane Donaldson.

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    Meet Jane Donaldson

    Janes art is somewhat different in style as has a beautiful whimsical feel to it and her chosen subject is natural with lots of pattern and rainbows of vivid and intense colour. The artist works with ink & watercolours mainly but, also uses acrylics and, creates gorgeous paintings on canvas of more abstract work. You can view her amazing brightly coloured paintings on her website. Some of her work is just below though to give you an insight into her artworld. Quirky, fun and truly amazing paintings. Her art portrays whimsical observations of human behaviour, relationships with one self and others and, the place we call home. Many of Janes’ paintings draw inspiration from life events or musings about her very own life and, somewhat become all about her life, like an autobiography but just through paint and expression. Her work is characterized by tales enriched through the artists imagination and dreams. Her main focus is on colour and does so through her fascination with the human face.



    Jane started painting in 2008 but was exposed to art through her family having been to many exhibitions and seeing art of true artists. Her family encouraged expressive art and, this we can see in her paintings. her work has flourished from being a stay at home mum to exhibiting in private collections and commissioned throughout eastern states of Austrailia.

  • Getting Organised

    Tidy Up and Organise!

    As an artist and crafter I am always creating mess in my small craft space/studio. I do not like mess but, somehow manage to create a lot of it while I craft to my hearts content, handcrafting my own cards or painting onto canvasses with a spread of a rainbow of acrylic paint tubes. So the other week I made a very good start on getting tidied up and becoming more organised in my space to allow me to be drawn into my craft space again so I can get creative again. I think when we see mess in front of us, our minds are messed up because of all the mess we see in front of us. So, as much of a chore as iy can be tidying up and organising our things I decided it was time for me to actually do this myself for I know I will want to get creative using my skills.

    I am really hoping that I can get back in to my space today and organise more of my studio space as Thursdays my husband and two kids go out for a few hours and I like to call this Natalie Time. A time where I can be creative if I feel up to it or just relax reading and enjoying a pot of tea. But, in my head I want to start using some of this precious time to be creative and really draw myself back to painting, something I always found to relax me and release any troubles deep within me. So here is hoping that this afternoon I can do some more tidying up. I know I will feel better once it is all done and seeing it all spick and span and crystal clean will make me want to be in there all the time. Let us see if that really happens.

    Happy painting and Crfating x

  • Watercolour Artist - Inspiration


    I came across this beautiful artist Jean Haines, who paints the most eye catching , vibrant and fluid watercolour paintings. There is such grace and excitement in her paintings that each and every painting just pops right out at you.  Jeans use of colour is just magnificent, as well as her use of water - this is the whole purpose of watercolour paints - which creates the spontaneous fluidity of colour in her artworks.

    Below, you can read an article on a previous exhibition she held at the Stockbridge Gallery from last year in July.


    What I simply love about her watercolour paintings is the fact that some do not look finished, almost like a quick watercolour study of her subject.  As an artist myself, one whom does not have time right now to dedicate my time to painting, I have always enjoyed doing tonal sketches and like seeing other artists studies of artwoirk, it has always been something that inspires me to get back into my painting and dabble. Below you can see her paintings that have that unfinished look yet, very realistic, and others that are more of a finished artwork.

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    Great Watercolours

    You can see that Jean paints such a vast array of subjects and I think that is why I like her artwork so much because it allows her watercolour artistic skills show through each and every on of her paintings. Jean haines can certainly capture the concept of watercolour paints through her wet on wet technique and, her use of vibrant colour allows her paintings to really stand out, as well as her techniques used. Love the floating and graceful feeling she captures in her work as well as the realism of her subjects.

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    You can read about the artist and view other artworks by Jean Haines on

    If you are feeling inspired and are looking for some high standard quality watercolours then look no further then here for your half pans, tubes and sets of watercolours and for brushes look just

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    haines 10

  • Watercolour Artist

    Ruth S. Harris Artwork

    I came across this exciting watercolour artist the other day and I just had to share her paintings which are full of life, it is almost as if her paintings are dancing. Ruth S.Harris composes vibrant, exciting and inspirational artworks  from flowers, animals, people, landscapes etc. and has had a few of her paintings used for greeting cards.

    Below are just a few examples of her paintings. But you can see more on here.

    Exciting Colours

    The fluidity and vibrant colours just dance away and bring such happiness to each and every painting she has composed. Her portraits are absolutely stunning, she captures the details really well and the compostions themselves are just beautiful, as well as her use of  brushwork and exciting colours.

    GORGEOUS painting of  lilys - above -, really ever so pretty and vibrant.

    The painting of the two girls on the beach just reminds me so much of summer holidays as kid in Elie, Fife, (Scotland) as we went every year and, it also reminds me of holidays in Cornwall, England (UK) too spending lots of fun times on Pol de Cove.

    Looking at this beautiful and graceful watercolour painting of Ruths' Ballerina, just makes me think of my darling daughter Ava, as she is practicing her ballet show routines. her love for dance is immense. Love the movement here in the ballerinas arms.

    Ruth Harris has many beautiful watercolour landscapes on her website and this is just one that I adore. her composition is deloightful as I just adore the windy countryside road. Gorgeous hues of colours too. Makes me realsie just how much I miss painting landscapes myself - I can remember sketching and painting away to my hearts content when a teenager and going out onto location to compose. The countryside is a good place for inspiration and for colour too.

  • Watercolours

    Watercolour Illustrations

    Always amazing to see what people create with paints. This is a watercolour painting of macaroons painted by an Illustrator known as Katherine Asher. Gorgeous painting it is too. Maybe I ought to start painting cakes, cupcakes instead of eating them, that way I will not add on the calories.

  • Katriona Chapman

    Katriona Chapman

    Katriona Chapman is a illustrator where she loves to tell a story using either watercolours and pencils or, pencils with digital colouring. Based in London Katriona creates beautiful images using her imagination. Browse her sketchbook work, beautiful detailed drawings and the most beautiful inspiring artwork for storybooks, some of which she writes herself. Below are just  a couple examples of her work/ Check out the rest on her website Always nice to see how art materials are used for something to attract youngsters and capture their attention.

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