Lighthouse on Millford paper

I just love to paint lighthouses, living in a fishing town I could chose which one to paint! I have six in the near neighborhood! but I have my favourites here too!
I am always attracted to the two green ones.
So I decided to get my sketch from the sketchbook, and make a proper watercolor from it.


I want it to have a rough look, with lots of broken edges, so I decided to use Millford paper for this. Due the special sizing you make wonderful washes and broken brushstrokes on this paper.
Colours are my regulars, Ultramarine Blue, Burnt and Raw Sienna, and for the tower a bit of yellow to make green!

First stage

A simple sketch, just to give the lighthouse a place on the right spot.
I blocked in a abstract way a few colors, not really making shapes, only a few shadow sides for the rocks, and the lighthouse. leaving a lot of whites!

Second Stage

After drying I paint the background in with Ultramarine and Burnt sienna, with this I give the tower more shape. its always nice when you do this, than only paint positive shapes!
Also the rocks are painted with these two colours, only a heavier mixture!

Third Stage

After drying again I put on the local colour from the lighthouse and add more shadows to the rocks! the reflections gets a bit of green to, and a few vertical brushstrokes to give it a more reflected look.


Last stage, the details on the tower, and here and there i washed away some colour to make it lighter.
On the right side of the tower I added a light wash of dirty ultramarine to make the lighthouse more coming forward.

Millford paper from St Cuthberts Mill
Ultramarine Blue, Burnt Sienna, Raw Sienna, Aurolien Yellow from Rembrandt
Brushes, A variety of squirrel and synthetics.

© Edo Hannema

Aubrey Phillips

Back in 1987 I began my journey in watercolor, eager to learn paint watercolors.
In those days I saw a great future in front of me. John Pike was my hero, he was the absolute top in watercolor. And also the first book I bought about watercolor was from John Pike!
Joseph Zbukvic and Alvaro Castagnet were not known yet these days. No books no videos, the dvd didn’t exists, and the founder from Facebook was still walking around in diapers!

Kees van Aalst

Zoltan Szabo and John Blockley filled up the numerous watercolor books, and in the Dutch magazines like Palet en Tekenstift you saw articles of Ron Ranson, Tony van Hasselt and the Dutch artist Kees van Aalst. later I found out that Tony is also a Dutch born artist!

Szabo was also a painter that I liked, only his techniques seemed so difficult to me! And of course Jan Groenhart a Dutch watercolor artist with wonderful Dutch landscapes and a master of how the North of Holland must look!

In those days you saw also watercolor books that were not so good, (in my eyes back then) I saw them in the bookstore and convinced myself that this was just very bad quality in watercolor. Just not my taste and not attractive. No… this is not what I want for my road to become a watercolor painter. That book was from Aubrey Phillips.


Oh boy what was I wrong there!
I was a novice in watercolor, and I didn’t recognized the sublimity of this painter!

It was in the year 2014, I was looking for John Pike photo’s I found a site from the Dutch artist Arie Jekel and when I saw the page from his inspiration I found John Pike, Edward Wesson, Edward Seago and Aubrey Phillips!

The first few artist were my heros too, but Aubrey Phillips I remembered, was that painter I disliked.
But curious why Arie did have Aubrey as his inspiration I looked up Aubrey’s paintings on Google to refresh my memory and instantly fell in love with the style and simple elegance of the brushstrokes. Apparently my mindset how watercolor must look was 180 degrees turned!

Aubrey Phillips  photo apvfilms

Aubrey Phillips caught me, and I want his book!!! And believe me nowhere in the Netherlands I found it, back in 1987 it was in every bookstore, and now nowhere!!

aubrey phillips 2
The texture of the paper helps to create the atmosphere. Warm colours in the front cooler colours in the background

I found the book in the UK and it was in excellent condition, the only minor thing is that it smells a bit (worse) after a moist basement. I tried the freezer, Microwave, Cat Grits. It’s already better than it was, but okay I have the book!

The warm sky in contrast with the cool snow!

The lesson learned is that you have to look further and longer to a artist art. To understand and value it. Dont think its rubbish (like me back in 1987) but study how its done.

The Cotswolds on september evening
The Cotswolds on a September evening

Most of the time when it looks simple it is really hard to make! When something is wrong in a minimalistic watercolor, it stands out like a red flag, therefore everything have to be in the right place. When you see watercolors of the “cracks” among us you will notice the economy of brushstrokes, there is no clutter or mud, just well placed brushstrokes in just the right amount of pigment and water quantity.
“When you can do it in less than one brushstroke you are on the right way!” (J. Zbukvic)

A warm watercolor, and still its a winterscene! It breaths “keep it simple”

Aubrey Phillips have a minimalistic approach to watercolor, he use heavy paper from the Mill Richard de Bas about 400 grams
Colours : Ultramarine Blue, Cobalt Blue, Monestial Blue*, Cadmium Red, Alizarine Crimson, Burnt Sienna, Burnt Umber, Raw Umber, Raw Sienna, Light Red, Lemon Yellow, and Viridian, nothing more fitted in his paintbox
Brushes; A Hake 2,5 Inch and a 1 Inch flat, Nr 14 Sable round, nr 11 and 8 Sable round and a rigger nr 4

Another winterscene.  The vertical strokes of the brush are ideal to suggest water.

Aubrey Phillips is a member of the Pastel Society and the Royal West of England Academy and was a Gold Medallist at the Paris Salon. He is a regular exhibitor in London and the provinces and runs his own art courses.

Aubrey R Phillips RWA. Renowned for his pastel paintings of the Malverns and the Black Mountains areas. Born 1920, Astley, Worcestershire. Aubrey Phillips studied at Stourbridge School of Art and at Kidderminster. Phillips lectured at Malvern Hills College and Bournville School of Art, and has had exhibitions at the Timaeus Gallery, Birmingham ( 1981) and at the Patricia Wells Gallery, Thornbury (1988). He is  also the author of books on the use of pastels and watercolours. Member of the RWA, PS,WSW and the Armed Forces Art Society. Solo exhibition at the National Library of Wales. Aberystwyth. Gained a Gold Medal at the Paris Salon in 1966. Phillips worked in and around the Midlands for a number of years in the 1970s, He has been called one of the leading landscape painters of the Midlands. his expansive changing skies are captured by strong strokes and his use of atmospheric colours. Lived in Malvern, Worcestershire.

Arie Jekel
Joseph Zbukvic
Tony van Hasselt
Alvaro Castagnet
Kees van Aalst
Jan Groenhart

  • Monestial Blue is Phtalo Blue, Rembrandt Blue or Winsor Blue

If you like this article, you can read the sequel a friend of my made on his blog after reading this post about Aubrey Phillips.
Click the link below
“brushes with watercolour”

© Edo Hannema

Skills on Texel

I own several dvd’s from artists that do demo’s. And on one of these dvd’s says a highly skilled painter “When you don’t see the painting before you  start painting, you won’t see a painting when you are finished”. So true, but…
When you see the watercolor in your head and your skills are not enough to paint it, you have no choice then practice till you have the skills!


Its hard when your watercolor skills let you down. Everyone that paint in this medium have this experience.
You know how you would like it, and then it turn out bad, cause the pigment is not flowing the right direction, and the mixes becomes muddy, the choice of colors are wrong, but you hesitate to start over again cause the sketch took you so long to make! Its just not what you expected from your new masterpiece! All of us painters been here.

I am far from a master watercolor-painter, but I am happy that my paintings turn out how I want the last few years. and that is for me very satisfying.
I remember one time on vacation on the Isle of Texel, I came over a dune, and there it was, It was low tide and a beautiful light  was glowing over the water and the poles standing just like dark knights out of the mud. The perfect landscape for a watercolor painter. Well for me then!
A amazing sight “I just want to paint this” was my first thought.
And I decided to make a warm looking watercolor with warm purples and a glowing yellow sky. I knew I must paint the poles carefully with my smaller brush, cause I don’t want to ruin the painting.


Till here I thought I saw it, but in real it wasn’t the case.
I stretcht down my paper and chose my colors and I came up with a dreadful colored picture that got nothing to do with the picture I hat in my head and it was totally different what I want to express.
But the colors were there and all? How is that possible?wad_texel
The atmosphere went wrong, the sky is just not fluid enough the poles are not the knights I see in the photo. The dark bits are not helping to make it a good picture. And the reflections are just dreadful! And above all, where is the light?? It is not the masterpiece I see in my head! Very disappointing and gutted!
Now I see my first wash is way to thick and not wet enough, watercolor must flow. I used colors straight out the tube I guess, cause it is really yellowy and purple. Its just painted with hopes, and not with skill and courage.

After a few years, and really at least 8 years I ran into the photo again, and I saw  the watercolor again in my head. But now I saw the way to the final brushstrokes along with it, I just knew what colors I want, and the order in what to do first. The wet into wet passages and how I make the poles, the thin lines. More skilled then the last time I was on my way!

And there it was, a cold sky with lots of light, a shiny mud and poles that stood out of that clay and they are like knights, and the reflections just help to make it more shine! And I made it with not much color and just two washes and some details. My skills were improved. On that day I was so happy with my painting. Still it is not a award winning watercolor, but it is the image I saw in my mind for years!
After this I made a few more, cause when you are on a flow, you must take advantage of it.
De Cocksdorp


Maybe a strange story, but its true, I struggled a lot. And when I just knew when I started, it took me this long to reach this level I probably never begon with watercolors.
But with little steps you become better each time, and how good you will be, there will always be a better painter with more skills and talent.
But the main case is, just enjoy your painting, take up some advise here and there. Look how other painters make there art.
And really the skill is not in the expensive tubes or brushes you buy, use every brand you are comfortable with, cause the skill is in yourself.
Okay buy good paper! That’s where your watercolor is on!



Colorcharts are on the right side of my website.

Alvaro Castagnet

Alvaro Castagnet,alvaro (2)

Every watercolor artist knows him, well I think you should know him if you are interested in watercolor. He is quite a phenomenon in watercolor. His work is very recognizable and full of rich washes with pigment. But behind all that color is a artist mind, that unconscious makes designs and layout in his painting. Well unconscious…., he just paints a lot, and gives many workshops. And its weird but true, from teaching people that can’t paint so well as yourself, you learn a lot too.

How many do not stare at their watercolor on a certain stage, and say to them self’s how must I do that foreground without ruining the rest of my careful brushed painting. Or they are finished and ask them self what is missing. What part can I add to my watercolor that it becomes better and more of a eye-catcher. Well you are to late! The design must be done before you start, the design and layout must be ready before the first brushstrokes.
But..watercolor is unpredictable and just going a other way then you want it to go, then you must have enough skills to follow your watercolor. its got no use to going against it!!

Keep the design intact, cause that is a part that works, its also why many artist make little thumbnail sketches, or a more worked out watercolor-sketch.

Design is something you can learn, to study paintings, what are the lines, why is it work, why is it I keep looking, why does this painting attract me so much?

This week my eye fell on a painting from Alvaro Castagnet, it is a very clever one made.
His brilliant design works here on his best!

Alvaro Castagnet Watercolor (1.20 x 0.65 meters)
Paris  Alvaro Castagnet Watercolor (1.20 x 0.65 meters)

The feature that stands out obviously  is of course the turquoise roof, from there you are follow the only sharp object on that height, and you land on the second turquoise roof, much smaller but it stands out well, nothing more to see there then blurry shapes but then the light building on the left catch your attention, and the shadow helps you to travel to the street below with zebra-paths and a few cars, people and a red traffic-sign, the small green dots of color leads you to a lighter big green shape that you follow to the other corner, very clever, in that corner is completely nothing. Only shade and darkness. He don’t want you to look there!! He made it easy, there is a sort of stairs of windows you climb to the light above, you jump over to the roof on the right, and that roof is directing you exactly where he wants you to look, the green round roof again! Full circle and you stay focused in the painting.

This is  how I see it, there are many ways, and maybe Alvaro thought about it, but I think its more the talent and instinct of Alvaro self. He just paint, and brush down what is necessary to make it work and with a beautiful design! All on his own feeling!

Learn to look at a painting, and your solution what must or what can I do will improve your own work too.

This is one way to look on a painting, and why the painting is working, there are a lot of methods, Edgar A Whitney, Tony Couch and Tony van Hasselt have created systems to value your watercolor on what is missing and what you could do to improve it.

I never did have the pleasure to follow a workshop with Alvaro, but I have his books and a few of his dvd’s to get a glimpse of his magic!

website Alvaro:

Can you see it in this one?

I wished I did have half of his talent, I am still learning, and maybe I never learn.
But I enjoy what I do, as long as you have fun, your on the right way!
Regards Edo

Watercolor Demo

I made a watercolor from Bus en Dam Noord Holland.
And also made a movie from it

Have fun hope you like it!


Schut Aquarel Papier

Snow in Woodstock
John Pike Art

Een tijdje geleden werd ik benaderd door de Nederlandse papierfabriek Schut met de vraag of ik bekend was met hun producten met name in aquarelpapier, uiteraard kende ik Schut, vooral omdat als je begint met aquarel-leren iedereen wel de Terschelling Classic probeert, of anders wel zo een blok met een verjaardag ontvangt, als cadeau van mensen bekend met uw hobby.
Je leest je ook boeken over die hobby, en een van mijn eerste boeken was het boek van John Pike watercolors, toentertijd uitgegeven door uitgeverij Gaade

Als je net begint, en je ziet de schilderijen van John Pike, en de meeste op groot formaat 56 X 76 cm op 660 grams Arches papier, dan denk je, als ik zo wil leren schilderen, moet ik dat papier hebben!
Nou, toen ik in de winkel kwam, zakte mij de moed al in de schoenen, want het 660 grams was erg duur, en als je net begint, wil je niet 16 gulden voor een vel papier betalen.|
Maar er was hoop, ze hadden ook goedkopere soorten 300 grams en 185 grams.
Je koopt naast boeken ook tijdschriften, daar had je Bob Tomanovic de prachtige kleurschakeringen maakte met W&N verf op Fabriano Grana Fina, dus naar die verf, en papier. Een deceptie, want de verf is wel goed, maar Fabriano is erg zacht, en als je niet de vastberadenheid hebt van een aquarellist die weet wat die doen moet, kom je met allerlei vlekken te zitten, die niet mooi zijn.
En alle kleur leek met de helft in het papier te verdwijnen. Maar ook dit ligt aan de ervaring van de schilder. Dus geen papier voor beginners!
Dus ik bleef min of meer bij het Arches hangen, achteraf zonde, want als ik er op terug kijk heb ik veel geld uitgegeven aan aquarellen die allemaal zo de vuilnisbak in zijn gegaan.

Ik zag wel Schutpapier liggen bij de verschillende winkels, maar ik keek meestal alleen naar de Noblesse, (100% rag) en die was net zo duur als Arches, dus ging ik voor het bekende.
Onbekend maakt onbemind nietwaar?
En Terschelling was helemaal het aankijken niet waard vond ik, want dat was uit mijn beginperiode, en daar wil ik ver vandaan blijven, die tijd dat ik nog niet kon schilderen.

Totdat ik dus door Schut-papier benaderd werd, en ik een collectie thuisgestuurd kreeg van Terschelling, en dan drie soorten, ik wist niet eens dat ze drie soorten hadden?
Ze stuurde mij de glad hot pressed, de Classic, u weet wel met dat fijne korreltje en de Ruw, nu is deze ruw niet wat u zou denken, maar dit papier heeft een lichte welving, en niet een ruwe korrel.

Omdat mij het oppervlak van de ruwe Terschelling mij het meest aantrok, ben ik daarmee begonnen.
Het is een prachtig mat papier, dat ook mat opdroogt. De lucht en lichte voorgrond is in een keer opgezet, daar overheen is het groen op de voorgrond en de blauwe lijn in de verte gemaakt.
De vuurtoren had ik uitgespaard. Nu liggen er in de duinen niet veel stenen, maar ik maakte ze toch omdat nu eenmaal een leuker plaatje opleverde, en Schilderen is Liegen zegt Kees van Aalst.
De Tweede aquarel op Terschelling Ruw was van het plaatsje Honfleur, door veel schilders gedaan, waaronder Edward Wesson, Edward Seago en John Yardley, ongetwijfeld door veel andere ook, maar deze drie bekoren mij het meest. Eerst werd er een lichte kleur in verschillende schakeringen over het hele vel aangebracht, waarbij ik wel in gedacht hield waar de lichte partijen op het onderwerp moesten komen, daarna werd met dezelfde kleuren de huizenrij aangebracht, waar ik de ramen uitspaarde, en ik probeerde dit met een losse hand te doen, het moet geen net raamwerk worden van vierkantjes. En ik gebruikte flink wat water. De roest roodbruine boom is in werkelijkheid groen, maar paste niet in het geheel, nu rood ook eenmaal de eigenschap heeft om onmiddellijk de aandacht te trekken, is dat mooi meegenomen! Hierna het water en de simpel gehouden weerspiegelingen, en wat donkere details rond de focus.
Het prettige van Schut Terschelling is dat als je wat te donker gaat, je het makkelijk kan terug nemen, je kunt bijna terug op het witte papier zelfs.
Ik vind dat je voor de prijs van Terschelling een prima papier aquarelpapier hebt waarop je verschillende technieken kan toepassen!

Het 100% katoen papier, en het topproduct van Schut heet Noblesse,
ik had hoge verwachtingen van dit papier,het voelt lekker aan
en heeft een mooie structuur die er regelmatig uitziet.

De eerste streken gaan erop, en ja het blijven zachte overgangen, en het papier blijft net lang genoeg nat om in een nat in nat techniek door te werken, ik maak bijna nooit mijn papier nat van te voren, maar schilder met een groot penseel, en introduceer in die wassing mijn zachte andere kleuren, kans op mislukking is wel groter, maar het is ook een techniek die je iets meer houvast geeft en je meer de leiding kan nemen dan op een kletsnat vel.

Lucht en water worden in een keer opgezet, een tweede laag voor de achtergrond, daarna het molentje en dijk als derde laag. kleuren blijven mooi! Ik merk wel dat dit papier een lagere verzadiging heeft dan bv Arches of Saunders, waarbij je onbeperkt kleur kan blijven introduceren.
Bij Noblesse blijft die teveel aan kleur als een soort cluster van pigment op het papier liggen.
Later na droging haal je die makkelijk ook weer weg.
Dit is echter meer een voordeel dan een nadeel, omdat ik zo gewend ben aan die zuigende papier soorten, gebruik ik meer pigment dan nodig is. Kleur die je mengt, en op het papier zet, blijft bijna precies zo staan!
Nu maar een tweede proberen, een beetje een abstract industrieel landschap.Rekening houdend met de eigenschappen van Noblesse, ging deze van een leien dakje.
Kleur over kleur, nat in nat, donkere partijen, oplichten, vervagen, allemaal goed!
Inmiddels heb ik twee blokken volgeschilderd, en ben uiterst tevreden.
Ik ga in ieder geval aan Schut vragen, of er naast deze Cold Pressed versie ook nog een echte ruwe gemaakt kan worden. 


Tot hierbij mijn voorlopige verslag van Schut Aquarel papier
Er komt nog Flamboyant, Serene, Elegance, en natuurlijk Schut tekenpapier!