Anywhere But Here by Annette Raff

Pouring Watercolor – Stunning!

Hi all,

Just wanted to share a work painted by one of the student’s from my recent “Pouring Watercolor” Course with Artists Network University.  This painting exemplifies the transparent nature of pigment and water.  The transparency and luminosity in this work is stunning!  In the Pouring in Watercolor Course we begin by learning to simplify our subject into just 4 values. Using masking fluid to reserve each value, we pour pure transparent primary colors that are encouraged to mingle a little on the paper.  Layer by layer the painting is built up.  This results in a beautifully simple and fresh painting.   The unexpected color mixes are unique and exciting.   I hope you enjoy viewing it.

Painting by Elisabeth Macy, Lancaster, CA

Painting by Elisabeth Macy, Lancaster, CA
Produced using the Watercolor Pouring technique as taught in the online course at Artists Network University

Wet on Wet … Wow!

“Geraniums Radiant” Watercolor on
Arches medium paper by Annette Raff

Have you heard of the term wet-on-wet painting in watercolor?  ‘On googling’ this I found 294,000,000 results.  This is not surprising as most students when joining my class tell me that they love the look of wet on wet painting and would like to know how to do it.   Those that don’t know of it when joining my class usually discover this wonderful approach shortly after and wish to explore it further!  It’s the part of painting in watercolor that never fails to bring a ‘WOW’!
So here is a bit of a ‘blurb’ on some things I have learnt over the years of painting in watercolor and teaching this wonderful medium to others.
Many students, especially when starting out in watercolor have difficulties with painting wet on wet. The usual questions surround the wetting of the paper and how wet that paper should be.  I believe it is not so much about how wet the paper is that is the problem, but it is more about how wet and diluted the paint is that you brush on to the wet paper.  For example, if your paper is wet, than generally you need less water to dilute your paint.  There is no one recipe for the correct amount of dilution of paint, because it depends on what effect you are trying to create.  The more diluted with water your paint is (watery consistency) the more your paint will spread out on the wet paper when you brush it on.  It will usually spread out another inch or so after you have touched your ‘loaded’ brush to paper.  It also will become lighter in value as the water on the paper and the water on your paper dilutes the paint and it will become lighter.  If you are painting soft floaty clouds on a hazy day, than this may be exactly what you wish to achieve.  However, if you wish to paint distant foliage, ie. The type you see with the hazy edges, than you will need thicker less diluted paint, so that when your brush hits the wet paper the paint spreads a little.  This way the shape (tree) will retain some of its shape and have a nice soft edge as well.  This is very useful when you wish to paint something at a distance or you wish to suggest distant background and not have it ‘jump out’ at the viewer.  To add another variable to this, I have to mention that during the process of painting on wet paper, if the paper starts to lose it’s shine and begin to dry (even a little), and you apply watery diluted paint to the surface, you will create what is called a ‘bloom’ or ‘watermark’ or ‘cauliflower’.  This may or may not be desirable.  So it all depends on what effect you are aiming for and getting to know how to adjust the consistency of the paint you are painting with, to suit the degree of wetness.
The following hints may help you when working wet on wet.
  • Have everything ready before you touch brush to paper.  Have your thick consistency paint for the foliage ready.  Because this paint has to be thicker, more of a butter consistency, you will need a separate brush to mix it and most of the paint (you will notice) stays within the hairs of the brush.  (Any thinner than soft butter over previously painted semi-dried surface will produce watermarks.)  Therefore, you’ll need to leave the brush you have mixed your paint with ready and loaded while you use another brush to apply the weaker and thinner washes of color.
  • Always use a large soft brush to wet your paper and take your time as this will help the water to ‘sink’ into the fibres of your paper and stay wet for longer, sometimes it is necessary to wet twice.
  • Try to move quickly and don’t spend too much time fiddling with tiny little ‘dabs’.  Once the painting starts to dry, STOP and dry it off completely (to bone dry) before resuming painting on it.  This reduces watermarks and stops the ‘worn’ out look that paintings can get.
  • Aim to paint from ‘thick’ to ‘thin’ (less diluted to more diluted).  In other words start with things that are softer in the distance or underlying color and then as you continue working and painting over this, thicken your paint up each time to go on until it starts to dry and then stop and dry completely.

You can practice with a piece of watercolor paper by wetting it and trying different consistencies of paint and watching the effects.  This is really the only way to learn.

Practice and enjoy the process of learning!
Happy Painting!

Value plan – A sure way to a successful painting!

Seeing as an Artist

What is it that makes a painting stand out from the crowd.  I believe it is the underlying structure (big shapes) that make a painting successful.  The  details and refinements that we are tempted to add at the end will not correct a badly designed or poorly structured painting.  We can think of it also as the bones of our painting!  We can always add but we cannot take away!

It is important to learn to see and draw as an Artist.  That is learn to see the big value shapes and design our painting with these in mind.  If the underlying structure is good, then our painting has a better chance of success.

All the fanciwork in the world cannot help a badly designed painting.

To improve your design, study books on the subject of composition and design.  Continually practice your drawing and make small value studies before you commence your painting!

Value Plan for Woman Holding Gift

Happy Painting!



I am excited to tell you that “Transient Moments” has been selected as a finalist in the March 2013 issue of Australian Artist!

This painting was inspired by a holiday in Yorkshire, Northern England.  It was partly from imagination.  I wanted to evoke the feeling of the cool misty landscape and the brilliant ever changing skies.

I was very pleased with the simplicity of this work and it is one of my favourite paintings!


Bribie Arts Festival 2012 Watercolour Workshop with Annette Raff

Watercolour Painting Workshop Bribie Island Art Festival 2012

Watercolour Painting Workshop with Annette Raff – Group Photo
Cheryl, Annette, Manuela, Alice, Janet, Bev, Judy, Halina,Carolyn, Pat

I have just returned from the Bribie Island Arts Festival 2012!  What a fantastic venue.  The organising committee did a fantastic job and everyone was so friendly.

I tutored a lovely group of ladies who were a pleasure to work with.  Over five days we explored texture and pattern in watercolour, the use of Gum Arabic, Gladwrap, torn paper stencils and salt.  We produced 4 small watercolour landscapes in a semi abstract style, a stylised bird painting, a waterfall and rocks scene and finished off with lilies using negative painting technique.


Watercolour – White or no white

I had the opportunity to visit the TATE Britain when I was in London last Christmas and saw some original Turner paintings!  The Turner ‘room’ was very much a ‘hands on’ experience, with drawing equipment, videos, viewing tools, etc, for the visitors to use.  I had always know that Turner used white pigment in many of his watercolours.  It is interesting that so many artists question the use of white pigment, and some watercolour competitions even, don’t allow the use of white pigment in their exhibitions.  It is certainly a talking point and a controversial topic for watercolourists.

My thoughts are that Turner achieved beautiful atmospheric quality in his work and didn’t allow the technical aspects of watercolour, to hinder the natural painting process and his artistic creativity.

I wonder where this thought about white paint has come from?

Portraits Custom Painted


Original Portrait in Watercolour from Photograph

Custom painted in colours, design and motifs of your choice

I’d like to let you know of an exciting new project of mine!  I am painting portraits from photographs.  This is an example of what I can do!  From an ordinary photo your painting can be custom painted with your choice of colours and motifs.  The one shown here is 15″ x 11″. 

The introductory cost for this original custom painted watercolour portrait (unframed) on watercolour paper is just US$250.  If you wish another size, please email me for a quote.

Enquiries – please

Learn How to Paint in Watercolour – Part 5 Watercolor Brush Sizes

                    Getting Started in Watercolour           

They often ask me,“where do I start, what do I need to buy”, “how do I know what is the best Watercolour brush size to use?

Watercolor Brushes – all about size!

Watercolour Paint Brushes come in a range of sizes.  I will talk about the round style paint brushes first. They range in size from 000 to 40!  I have never had a need for anything as small as a 000!  My smallest round brush is a size 2.  Most round brushes come to a good point anyway, so having a separate very tiny brush is not necessary.

Large brushes however are a necessity to producing fresh looking watercolours.  The larger the brush, the fewer strokes you need to make and therefore less chance of getting a ‘worn out’ look to your painting!  Watercolour paper when wet is susceptible to damage, so fewer brush strokes, means less damage.

Flat watercolour brushes are essential for pre-wetting paper.  Flat watercolour brushes are measured by their size in inches, eg. ½ “, 1”, 2” etc.  My largest flat brush is 2” in width and a joy to work with when wetting large sheets of paper.   As you need to work as fast as you can before the paper dries, the larger flat brushes are ideal.

With all brushes remember it is not only the brush, but how you use it!  When wetting paper with a flat brush to prepare for a soft edged effect (called wet-on-wet), be careful to hold the brush at an angle of about 40 degrees to the paper and almost let the handle of the brush rest on the palm of your hand.  This way, the brush is gently skimming the paper without damaging the fibres.

A small ½” or ¼” flat brush is useful for ‘scrubbing’ out or ‘lifting’ lights.  On dried watercolour, you can wet a small flat brush, gently stroke over an area and then blot with a tissue.  This is most successful when the colour is not a staining colour.

Stay tuned to my next Watercolor ‘Article’ where I will discuss the hair types and different qualities of watercolour brushes.

You can Learn “How to Paint in Watercolour”

 Landscapes and the human figure.

 If you want to give Watercolour Painting a try, go to my lessons website for either a downloadable Video or Printable lesson.

Stay tuned as I will be recording more lessons soon!

Happy Painting





This is my latest watercolor! I took hundreds of photos on a recent visit to Hong Kong.  I combined images, selecting the best parts from several photos. I sketched my composition and worked out the tonal values first.  This meant a lot of rubbing out and shifting around, so I do this on tracing paper.  I focused on simplifying the busy scene.  When painting I  tried to paint shapes just as a saw them, even if it was not clear what they were.  I’m very happy with the result.

Cheers for now and happy painting!


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