Reduce, reuse , recycle...Hare again

Reduce, reuse , recycle...Hare again

So I have been looking through older pieces of work.Some I still like and they sit well in my portfolio ,but watercolour is a fickle medium , it takes a long time to get right . The ones I like become firm favourites, and the techniques used are kept locked away in my mind of 'how to do a certain thing'.On the other hand other paintings are simple elusive, they happen just once and there is no way to replicate them. Finally my third group of paintings are ones I grow to dislike, or realise there is something wrong with them and they go in a reject pile. They are not a waste , they all teach me something, but sometimes you just don't like to look at something you don't like.


I do however like to reuse paintings, sometimes I touch up paintings or add backgrounds to try and improve them. This has proved very effective in some cases. 



Sometimes I have just been too hasty to finish something and I rush it so it needs me to add some detail and be more considered


Recently I have been playing around with a technique where I just wash the painting off the paper and am left with a faded image of the original like in this fox painting



I started this process many years ago with an owl painting I didn't like, I simply put the whole thing under the tap.I was left with pigment on the paper that I could then build on. I have been mulling this idea with the fox for a while, but I do sort of like it.

I use bockingford watercolour paper and it seems to take this sort of treatment . Just run the whole piece under the tap and stop when the image is sufficiently faded. Now it isn't an exact science , but don't rub anything too hard or you won't be able to paint on it again , then as today was very sunny I hung it out to dry



Today I picked out an old hare I wasn't fond of and set to work, now this wasn't like the the fox, and I am not sure it gained much from having a new hare on top of and older one. But this is what I did 




I drew out the new hare and masked out the whiskers with masking fluid

Then I stared with the eye.


I then used yellow ochre and dropped in my favourite colours, cerulean blues and browns to add depth to the fur. The paper isn't perfect and you need to be delicate, this is when it all goes through an 'ugly' stage



I am feeling very free as I have nothing to lose, if it goes wrong I haven't even wasted a piece of paper. I think that can be quite liberating.


I work on the ears and add lots of splashes and splatters, I want this hare to be as expressive as possible


Finally I leave it to dry, and then add some background and extra highlights with white acrylic and gold ink, I have had fun and made a new painting from an old one, life is all about trying new things and that is what I am aiming for




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I LOVE your style. Your hares are what drew me in. They are lovely and the eyes are so expressive. Do you teach any classes on line? I wold love to take one.

alex Pearson

I have just discovered your wonderful blog! Amazing paintings. Is it possible to download the drawings? I “dabble” in watercolours but always find the drawings aspect difficult.

Jean Williams

Regarding the faded fox – I’ll bet this technique would work amazingly for background leaves in a bushy tree, or to create aerial perspective in a landscape, or maybe for a stampede of cattle with graded effects for the mid ground. I also love to repurpose rejected paintings and the freedom that comes with that (nothing to lose). Thanks again for your generous sharing!


Ahh! Good idea. Thanks! I paint rabbits and always find whiskers difficult- mind you, our boy bun Dijon no longer has any because his partner nibbles them!! (Photos at


Hi Deborah I use the end of a paperclip

Rachel Toll

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