My Style by watercolour artist Helen Parry
“I am a pure watercolour technique artist, producing technically challenging and finely detailed watercolour paintings”
My style of watercolour painting has a unique and highly technical approach. I strive to push the boundaries of watercolour paints by mixing directly on the paper and building up colours of watercolour pigment. The desired finish being the underlying tones of colour with subtle changes in hues.
With watercolours, I am able to transition from soft, delicate washes to defined and finely detailed subjects such as beautiful garden birds. My pure watercolour technique has a distinct 3D effect of realism which is rarely seen in watercolour paintings. Overall, my paintings have a balance of fine detail realism with a soft watercolour brushwork.
What is pure watercolour?
The technique of pure watercolour consists of painting with transparent pigments of watercolour and without using a white pigment for lighter tones or highlights. The pure watercolour technique is a more challenging way to paint, however, it gives a more attractive and translucent quality to the finished artwork.
Using pure watercolour technique and only three watercolour paints
Using a pure watercolour technique is just the beginning of my painting process. I continue to push my watercolours painting to a highly skilful level by just using three transparent pigments. Therefore, all my watercolour paintings are a combination of careful layers of three colour pigments; red, yellow and blue.
These three primary colours are mixed in various combinations within my pallets when I’m producing smaller pieces. For larger pieces of work, I blend and mix directly on the paper.
Layers and layers of watercolour
The pure watercolour technique I use involves layer and layers of different watercolour washes. By doing this, I am able to create and build much stronger and darker tones of colours, building them up, layer by layer. Additionally, this means initial washes can shine and illuminate through from underneath. For example, when it comes to painting stunning Autumn heathers, the beautiful pink undertone builds into a stronger purple tone. Furthermore, this leads to an over tone of brown from the heather stems. Each of these colours are carefully layered and then mixed as they dry on the paper. This pure watercolour technique produces an individual feel to each of the colours in addition to a fragile cohesiveness.
No white paint, no masking fluid
Using just three colour pigments in my paintings it means that all white areas of the painting must be considered before I start working. The white of the paper becomes the white paint. In addition to not using white pigment, I don’t use any masking fluid which is quite common amongst watercolour artists. The use of masking fluid protects areas that are to remain white, however, I prefer to rely on my delicate brushwork skills to paint around these areas.
A significant amount of concentration must go into each and every one of my paintings along with a very steady hand in particular when painting fine lines such as white hairs or the whiskers of an animal or perhaps the fine hairs in botanical pieces.
No black paint
Furthermore, I do not use any black pigment in my paintings, therefore the dark colours are built up with the three primary colours, red, yellow and blue. I much prefer to mix the black tones in my images as the shadows of nature are never truly black, just a darker tone of colours. By mixing my dark colours up this gives me a softer black colour which is more reflective of nature.
Using watercolours in their most natural state
As a pure watercolour technique artist, I aim to fully master the technical abilities of watercolour, by using watercolours in their most natural state.
- Using three primary colours to create all the colours within my painting ensures that there are no harsh unnatural colour mixes.
- Using the paper as the white means there are more natural highlights, so no garish white tones.
- By using brushwork instead of masking fluid there are no sharp and unnatural highlights.
- Using my own mixed black to create beautiful and natural shadows.
- By using just pure watercolour there is no mixed media which could create an essence of effect over substance.
“Using watercolours in their most natural state to reflect the beauty of the natural world”
Check out my blogs to keep up to date with my work and understand more about my pure watercolour technique.
Ensuring watercolour paintings have longevity – Tools of the trade
It is so important to me that my paintings last a long time. With each painting taking hours upon hours to produce, I want that legacy to continue on, therefore I only use quality, archival materials to produce my watercolour paintings. All the watercolour pigments I use are professional watercolours which give a much more stable, longer lightfastness and provide a truer pigment of colour.
In addition to this, I paint with sable brushes as they produce a much smoother brush flow which can hold enough paint for delicate and intricate brushstrokes. I paint onto heavy weight watercolour papers which are at least 140lbs or above. The watercolour paper I use is always a cotton rag with no optical brighteners as this often shortens the longevity of the paper and consequently the painting.
If you would like to learn more about my technique or perhaps you are looking for a truly special one-off painting please feel free to contact me about my commissions.
Properly looked after, my watercolour paintings can last for many years and be enjoyed by families for generations.