Loosen Up

Loosen Up

Many people ask me how to paint looser watercolours , unfortunately it isn't an easy question to answer. Especially when it goes against your natural style. I will try my best to explain how I go about this loose foxglove painting. I like my looser pieces to have some grounding in reality , other artists go further than me and some don't go as far.I would suggest that if you want to loosen up that you may have to have some failures in the beginning and try to unlearn some of your attention to detail. I would say "just go for it, you have nothing to lose"

1. Start with a simple sketch 


2.Now I spray the paper with a spray bottle....



and drop pinks and greens around and onto the image. Try to be random, and loose, let the water do the work. Then stop when you like what you see, don't worry too much about this stage, let your brush dance around ....



3. You can also pat your loaded brush so you get droplets of colour on the paper, be as bold or as timid as you like. If you use quite weak colours at this stage then you can paint the foxgloves in much more boldly later on



4.Now leave things to dry, and I find it best not to look at my painting, to go away and have a cuppa. Then I am not tempted to fiddle with it. I want to add bees so I paint the m in carefully, but this blog is about the loose watercolour, and this is where it is tricky to explain.Try to define some edges but leave others to merge into the background. Use water in some places but not in others so sometimes you get a lovely wet in wet effect . Be bold 



5.Work around the painting being careful to leave white highlights in places , define as little or as much of the flowers as you like. , these effects are created by letting the water work it's magic. keep stepping back and seeing where you want the shadows and the darker areas.Foxgloves are very dark inside.



You can also use the spray bottle to take some paint away, or pat it gently with some kitchen roll.

6. Now it is almost finished. I will add some splatters and splashes, and spray some of the edges, have a go and see what happens....



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  • Tina Maloney

    Thank you so much for sharing your process. Your paintings are beautiful and dreamlike. You are truly gifted.

  • Charmain

    You are such an inspiration. Thank you so much for taking the time to instruct and share. It really is helpful. I have two of your small bird paintings and love them.

  • Sylvie

    Rachel, I’m always drawn to your lovely loose work in watercolours. I think your explanation on painting loosely is a very good and honest description of producing these effects in a way that is personal to the individual. Thank you for sharing. Best wishes from another Sylvie (from Essex England).

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