Lotus Pond Watercolour Demo – Crofton Group BC CANADA


Here’s a great re-cap of this “Lotus Pond – Kyoto Japan” watercolour demonstration (thank you Evie Frisby). She has done a wonderful job of taking notes and I couldn’t say it any better. Here’s the finish:


“Lotus Pond – Kyoto Japan” by Peggy Burkosky


Palette: French Ultramarine Blue; New Gamboge Yellow; Quinacridone Magenta

Step 1: Wet-in-wet washes in the “big shapes” of sky, water and linked pond shapes. Paint consistency is “whole milk & coffee cream” on a wet surface that is just losing it’s sheen



Step 2:  Distant cool, light value shapes, wet on dry. Brush marks brief, quick, making sure there aren’t too many busy spots. Start with large masses of “foliage” with few small shapes. Keep the entire shape linked and flat (no variation of values, temperature).



Step 3: Mid to dark values introduced, warmer colours in the middle ground (colours generally become warmer as they come forward). Pay attention to vertical marks (lifted) in the water which is a recognizable symbol that expresses water, adding them even though you might not see them.





Step 4: Final darks, small shapes and details. Keep them simple, loose, expressive. Less is more. Try and keep brush marks fast and brief.




Thank you Edie for the following workshop notes:

Workshop on painting “moving water”: April 11, 2018 – Crofton Painting Group
Notes taken by Evie Frisby


Red (Red & Green = Xmas colours)

Yellow (Yellow & Purple = Easter colours)

Blue (Blue & Orange = Fall colours)

.. Primary colours used beside each other = INTENSITY

.. Mixed together = NEUTRALIZING TONES (grey or brown = tones down colours)

.. Used to darken each other

OPAQUE COLOURS (earth colours)

Don’t mix more than 2 opaques together. This loses the lustre of the paint and makes it dull!  Opaque colours are the Cadmium Colours; Cerulean Blue; Indian Red; Yellow Ochre

COMPLEMENTARY PAIRS (opposites) makes work “shimmer”

Peggy’s favorite colours:  Ultramarine Blue (red in it); Prussian or Antwerp Blue (green shade); Windsor Phthalo Blue (green shade);  New Gamboge Yellow; Transparent Yellow; Quinacridone  Gold;  Cadmium Yellow Med.  She also uses Alizarin Crimson, Permanent Rose, Cadmium Red

Peggy’s Note: A limited palette: creates  harmony in a painting

VALUES (Mood): (squinting your eyes — takes the colours out of the composition so you don’t get distracted with the details and can see the values better)

  1. Lighter Values = HIGH KEY
  1. Darker Values = LOW KEY

Note:  Don’t have to use the values in the reference picture – change the value/mood to suit your what you decide!


Thumbnail sketches determine: 

  1. Value
  2. Focal Point
  3. Palette Colors
  4. Light Source
  5. Placement of Shapes (e.g. Horizon line) Horizon should not be in the middle of the picture; lower horizon gives a “vista” design.  Higher horizon gives a “local feeling”
  6. Linking shapes!  Where shapes are all connected!  This simplifies the painting.  Join the shapes in the value study/thumbnail!


Water to pigment

Wetness to the paper and timing for drying

Content of pigment

Explaining Consistencies of washes:

Apple Juice





Glaze on top while colour is still wet … this gives a “glow” (e.g. use yellow on paper then add blue on top directly on the paper to create a green color.

BRUSHES:  Peggy’s favorite – Quill Mop (holds loads of water and pigment) Brush Brands: Neptune; H.J. Kazan; Escoda.  Rigger Brushes:  different widths.  These make “lucy-juicy” marks and make “water squiggles” in the foam.

PAPER:  Peggy’s favorite paper is Fabriano (handmade and very soft paper good for lifting color)

Note:  Supports like plastic corrugated backing doesn’t let watercolor paper breath.  Peggy suggests Door-skin or plywood and use Bull Dog Clips and not masking tape to attach to paper!


  1. Work larger shapes first 
  1. Mix large pools of paint/water
  1. Direct Painting:  Plein Air and “in the moment – Alla Prima
  1. Indirect Painting:  When you are “planning” out the painting – doing glazing etc.
  1. Save the whites: Plan ahead
  1. Link Colours during the under-painting
  1. Introduce colour INTO colour in the wet underpainting:  put down water first then paint wet into wet
  1. Lifting to make white again:  while paint is still wet you can lift up paint around the shore line to create a lighter value and create movement, also lift off  with rubber eraser for waves coming up on the shore
  1. Lost and Found Edges:  when making water and waves
  1. Splatter:  Experiment with splatter – timing is important for splattering
  1. Think of big shapes — decide where to put; shadows; determine light source; the stronger the light source the “darker the shadows” should be.
  1. Mixing colour on wet paper – e.g. start with “Magenta” then add “Ultramarine”
  1. For reflected water pull up vertical strokes starting from the bottom of the paper; drop in darker colour and hold up the paper into the air to make the colour run
  1. Work in negative shapes: use thirsty brush to lift paint to make shape; lift paint while paper still has a sheen
  1. Water bottle misters:  have one that does very fine droplets spray as well as a regular sprayer for spraying over the dried paints.
  1. Kneaded Erasers:  they are better than the vinyl erasers for lifting off the graphite drawing pencil.
  1. Ruling Pens:  they give a varying thickness of lines
  1. Water Media Acetate can be used to lay on top of the painting while work in progress to see what colours/shapes will look like …. before diving into the painting to make the changes
  1. Working with “what has happened so far with the painting” and then reassessing the next steps
  1. Vignette style:  not painting realism to the edge of the picture … less painting around perimeter leaves more for the viewers imagination


  1. Only apply to Dry Paper
  2. Put soap on brush first to save the bristles from hardening or rinse brush out with water continuously; use GooGone to remove resists from brushes
  3. Don’t leave frisket/maskit that is applied on the painting in the sunlight
  4. Substitutes for use of Frisket – White Gouache; Designer colour white; Dr. Martin’s Bleed-proof white (water based); White acrylic; Zinc White (transparent)

Techniques using Frisket/Maskit:

  1. Creating Waves:
    1. SCUMBLING the belly of the brush filled with Frisket across the paper
    2. SPLATTERING .. TAP DOWNWARD with Frisket on the brush to create splatter to make water breaking … splatter in the opposite direction of where the wave is breaking
    3. DESIGNER GOUCHE:  mix with water and tap brush to create water splashing form on the shoreline

Note:  Painters that Peggy suggests to view their work on YouTube:  Joseph Zbukvic, Alvaro Castagnet, Herman Pekel and Robert Wade.

Comments are closed.