Watercolour Prep

Been feeling very unworkish lately and so decided to at least get some uncompleted watercolours finished so that I may have use of the boards they are on again for new works.

De-gummed boards at the ready!

De-gummed boards at the ready!

Also got the old gummed tape remnants of a pile of boards in readiness for a day’s watercolour paper stretching.I recently bought a pile of new boards all the perfect size for half a full imperial watercolour sheet. 


My fave gummed tape is Loxley Apollo Gummed tape – it is very strong when moistened with a sponge and had a lot of glue on it.

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Above are some of my stash of gummed tapes. They are in various sizes from half inch up to 2.5 inches for lightweight to heavyweight paper. To stretch watercolour paper you must use gummed and not masking tape.

BEST GUMMED TAPE – Loxley’s Gummed Art Tape – available here – http://www.amazon.co.uk/Loxley-Artist-Gummed-Tape-36mm/dp/B00EDKFLXY/ref=sr_1_4?ie=UTF8&qid=1410278075&sr=8-4&keywords=art+tape

Second Best – Butterfly Gummed Tape – http://www.amazon.co.uk/s/ref=nb_sb_noss?url=search-alias%3Daps&field-keywords=butterfly%20gummed%20tape

The boards are quarter inch plywood and from B&Q. My dad had to cut them to size for me as they came as larger boards.

Having this many (about 13) is great as now I have no excuse for not painting as I have a stash of watercolour paper pre-stretched and ready for art!

Ideally I would like to get about another 20 and then I’d really be cooking!

There’s nothing that slows you down more than knowing you can’t paint unless you have stretched paper at the ready.

You can always paint on unstretched paper as there are some papers that don’t cockle much and others that you can flatten under a heavy weight but lately I’ve been getting back into stretching as it gives a superior finish not to mention you feel like a queen when you are painting on a taut as a drum non-cockling surface!

Before I place the pre-cut paper in my watertub for 5 minutes I draw pencil guidelines on the paper as sometimes its hard to see through the thick gummed tape where the halfway mark is between on and off the paper.P1150347 P1150348

Then I place the paper in the watertub and let it absorb water for about 5 minutes – then pick it up from one corner and let the water roll off before placing it on a board and pressing out airbubbles from the centre to the edges. Before moistening my tape with a damp sponge I take off any excess water from the strips where the tape will go as sometimes pools of water can be there which would be too wet for the tape to seal.


Then I always use a thumbnail to run along the edge of the paper so that it seals the gummed strip snuggly in and then press down all around on tape and leave in a coolish room to dry very slowly. This avoids any risk of paper drying too fast and thus pulling away from the gummed tape.

Finally after a few hours drying flat I have a little army of boards at my disposal !





Home and Studio

When I was working as an employee full time and commuting to work I used to dream of a job that I could do from home.

I was also painting solidly in my spare time – evenings, weekends and holidays – in order to explore my love of watercolour. But for the time the dream of a stay at home job was way off in the future.

Then about 6 years ago I was diagnosed with a rare tumour which required 12 hours of neurosurgery. I had to move out of my rented house and back in with my parents as I was too ill to care for myself. It took over 2 years to get any kind of normality back to my health but gradually I was able to do small things.

My focus fell on my art and I began painting more regularly as far as my limited reserves of energy and focus allowed.

By chance I came across Etsy and soon tentatively opened my own online gallery. I could never have foretold how this move could have catapulted me so much nearer to my dream job. After 2 years of selling consistently on Etsy I was in a position to rent the adjoining terraced house to my parents and the rest as they say is history.

Now – 4 years on I live in a sunny terraced home with my dog Tilly. I love living here and have managed to use every room in the house for my art!

Enjoy a photographic tour of my home as it is now – I hope it will give you a taste of life in the Valleys.

My home and studio in Pontypridd, South Wales, UK

My home and studio in Pontypridd, South Wales, UK


loads of lovely pastels

studio 1

all set up for watercolour in my north facing “studio”


How my hanging baskets and window box look this summer

My blue and white bathroom was originally a bedroom so it is quite generous...

My blue and white bathroom was originally a bedroom so it is quite generous…


The fire is rarely on so I like to decorate it with flowers and cushions


Tilly and I in 2013


I love to spin and weave – here I am carding coloured fleece


In my comfort zone – quietly painting

Getting to Grips with Gouache – clematis & nastursium painting day

It was lovely to spend a day working once more with Barbara and Sandra.

Barbara working on velvety clematis leaves in gouache

Barbara working on velvety clematis leaves in gouache


Sandra’s nastursiums coming along nicely

The girls decided they fancied trying out gouache as they had not really done much with it before.

Be prepared to get messy!

Be prepared to get messy!

Our subjects were a rich deep purple clematis and a riveting yellow nastursium both climbing on a trellis or picket fence.

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To start we painted the skies by wetting the whole area first then dropping in glorious random patches of blue and tilting the painting to create soft, amorphous and totally natural looking clouds.

Gouache was playing nicely! So far so good!


Barbara’s beautiful petals


Sandra’s lovely nastursiums

Next we began working on the petals and once again we wet each area first to provide a damp environment into which we dropped rich colour and tilted this to spread the gouache around with minimal brushstrokes to beautiful effect.

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Gouache really is a friendly and malleable medium compared to watercolour. It can be re-wetted and re-worked.

It is not so easy to lift as watercolour but that is offset by the fact that you can paint over dark areas with light paint – which of course cannot be done with transparent watercolour.

As we built each petal with subsequent and darker, more detailed washes our paintings grew quickly with lots of satisfied oohs and ahhs from my students.

It was lovely to see them getting effective and pleasing results so soon.


I prepared worksheets of the demo we would do ahead of time so that they could be used during the workshop to support learning


Want to have a go of gouache?

To try a gouache or watercolour class just email me (Alison Fennell) at eastwitching@hotmail.com and I can email you my current programme and answer any special requests.

Painting Workshop Price guide

(includes tuition/full colour step by step demo worksheets/professional artist quality paints, paper and brushes and a coffee/tea and croissant on arrival!)

  1. Whole day for 1 to 1 tuition £65
  2. Half day for 1 to 1 tuition £32.50
  3. Whole day for 2 friends booking together £55 each
  4. Half day for 2 friends booking together £32.50
  5. Please note I do not teach more than 2 people at a time. Courses start at 9.30am and end at 4pm. Half days are 3 hours long


Look forward to hearing from you.

Cancer Zodiac Gifts

A beautiful watercolour crab with rich and vibrant colours will transport its Cancer sign recipient to the ocean...

A beautiful watercolour crab with rich and vibrant colours will transport its Cancer sign recipient to the ocean…

For an unusual and long-lasting gift for those with their birth-sign in Cancer how about a watercolour crab art print?


I have a big selection to choose from and you can have sizes 5×7 inch or 8×10 inch or even go up to a whopping 13×19 inch print!


To view my crab collection click H E R E or browse the gallery below.


Convo me at eastwitching@hotmail.com if you have any special size requests:)

My best-selling crab print of all time - this one - called "Maine Man"has a rich variety of colours with a dark teal green dominating - a fab gift for your Cancer friend

My best-selling crab print of all time – this one – called “Maine Man”has a rich variety of colours with a dark teal green dominating – a fab gift for your Cancer friend


A timeless and simple crab in watercolour - 8x10 inches

A timeless and simple crab in watercolour – 8×10 inches

crab cedrick sidestop perfect 810

Hostas in Watercolour

My backyard is full of hostas and now in June they are really filling out – spilling over onto my slab pathway which I love.

"Hosta" Original watercolour painting 10x15 inches

“Hosta” Original watercolour painting 10×15 inches

Their variegated leaves are so attractive that I sat down and drew one plant a few days ago.

My hosta which I drew

My hosta which I drew

Here is how I painted it in watercolour.

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Garden Delight – Abbey Gardens, Malmsbury

Had a perfect day out yesterday. My friend Anne and I went to the Abbey Gardens in Malmsbery, Somerset.

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We try to make it to a stately home and gardens at least twice a year and this trip was so lovely. Only an hour or so’s drive from home we headed out on a perfect day – sunny but not too hot with a slight breeze now and then.

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Here are some shots of the gardens. The air was full of the scent of roses and other flowers. One rose in particular smelled out of this world – we think it is a Gertrude Jekyll …


We had  a lovely cup (mug) of tea and a freshly made cake each ( I had carrot and Anne had coffee) before then wandering down to the river walk – completely shrouded with greenery and trees and shrubs of all kinds. The ponds were still and covered with lily pads and there was even a stepping stone bridge.

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Huge fish including koi and sturgeon were in the Stew pond right by the cafe and one the the staff was feeding them by hand – I have never seen such huge fish!

What I loved was the Cotswold architecture – especially the casement windows – imagine living here!!

P1140933 P1140934 P1140935 P1140936The town itself was so sleepy and quiet. The roofline probably hadn’t changed for over 500 years and the clutter of cottages cascading along the roads was so pretty.



Had lunch in this old pub – lovely atmosphere and dogs allowed so we got friendly with a spaniel and a schnauser!

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We had lunch in a very old pub called The Smoking Dog and the ambled back to the garden for one more sit in the  garden under a gazebo – enjoying the relaxing atmosphere and the flowers.


It was the summer solstice too and so they day seemed lovely and long…


As usual I hope to paint some of the scenes I saw and so watch this space!





Summer Meadow Art Demo in Gouache

Are you feeling the summer heat yet? Here in Wales we have had some real summer weather and so here is a simple meadow scene with some  cow parsley (AKA Queen Anne’s Lace) waving in the foreground.



Please feel free to follow this demo but as always please note that you cannot them sell the result – to do that would breach my copyright. What you can do is modify the painting slightly by adding extra cow parsley or changing the shape of your bushes etc:) Thanks!

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To see more painting demos click here – http://eastwitching.com/2014/03/19/foxglove-fancy-making-a-mess-then-pulling-through/