Monday, April 27, 2015


 By Lauren Merrick

Thanks so much to those who gave me some direction about posts you'd like to see me do while I'm here at The Beetle Shack. 

The majority of you who commented wanted some tips and tricks for watercolour. I've been thinking long and hard about this. Every time I've picked up a brush, mixed up a colour and painted a stroke I've been thinking about how to instruct people on how to use this medium. 

Watercolour is a very intuitive medium, it's fluid, organic and difficult to control. It's been a great medium for me to explore and to allow me to loosen up. As a bit of a perfectionist, at first I found it frustrating. I overworked every piece because I didn't work with the medium, I was trying to bend it to my will....

I studied at Enmore Design Centre (TAFE) and got an amazing education in lots of different mediums, some which I enjoyed and others that I really didn't, but it was incredibly important for me in my growth as an illustrator and in discovering my style to try out as many mediums as I could. Maybe watercolour will speak to you and you'll love it, or maybe you'll hate it! Either way I really encourage you to pursue exploration with other mediums as well as watercolour. There are many amazing artists out their who are willing to share their skills in workshops and if you have the time I couldn't recommend studying at TAFE more, my course was 100% practical with all of my teachers being industry professionals. I am looking into providing watercolour workshops online and around NSW, if you're interested in this follow my Facebook page and instagram for updates.


#01 Don't Overwork

One of the most common mistakes I see when people first try watercolour is that they overwork the painting, the colours become muddy and textures become harsh.
I know immediately when I have overworked a piece and know I have to start again. I think this is why people often say that watercolour is very unforgiving - if you've gone too far the damage is done and it can't be fixed. 

This is something that is learnt and will become intuitive, you will most likely overwork a lot in the beginning as you get used the medium and learn it's ways - this is totally ok! Just keep experimenting!

#02 Light to Dark
Watercolour relies on layers (this ties in to not overworking). Load your brush with water and mix it with your colour - the more water you add the lighter and more transparent the colour will be on the paper. It is best to start off light and build up your colour. One of my favourite techniques is to start off with lots of water and a little colour and paint an area, wait for it to dry a little, then to drop water onto the colour - don't touch it again until it's dry, if you try to manipulate the water with your brush you will overwork and ruin the texture, you can move the paper, add more water and different colours to experiment. 

#03 Materials & Experimenting
Professional quality watercolour and materials are expensive. I think it's best when you start off to use the cheaper options as you'll be going through a lot of paint and a lot of paper as you learn the medium. For experimenting 300gsm watercolour paper is fine, I like a medium texture but you might prefer smooth or rough. You need to use soft headed brushes, not hard bristly ones. Tubes of watercolour or a palette is fine, have a spare welled palette to mix your colours in. Experiment with mixing colours, using more and less water, dropping colour onto wet paper, and water onto coloured paper, experiment with different brush strokes and mark making and the textures you can achieve. Also have two jars of water, one for washing your brush after using warm colours and one for cool colours, this will mean you don't need to change your water as much and your colours won't become muddy from using dirty water.

Please comment with any questions you have and I'll attempt to answer in my next post!

Looking forward to seeing some photos of your experiments too, if you want to you can use the hashtag #beetleshackwatercolour101 so we can all have a look!

Thank you, 


Lauren's first solo exhibition NURTURE NATURE will be showing at The Glass Onion Society from the 24th of April through to the 4th of June. Take a look HERE for a sneak peek and more details. Looks like it is stunning:)

Lauren Merrick from Lauren Merrick Illustration is an artist and illustrator who spends her days creating custom Family Portraits,  Children's Book Illustrations, Blog Headers and commercial business branding. Inspired by the wonders of the natural world, Lauren's work is as playful as it is whimsical. A seasoned market traveller, you can find Lauren at your local east coast artist boutique market or online here.


  1. Great post! I love the beautiful effect that comes from water colours and it's a medium I want to learn more about. Often in the past I've given up at my work because it's turned into a big mess!

    1. Thanks Laura, definitely give it another go! I find that if I feel like I want to keep fiddling with the work before it's dry it's a good opportunity to go make myself a tea, put some washing on etc. just need to get up and walk away from it before you over work! Looking forward to seeing what you come up with! Lauren

  2. Lauren Merrick, you are amazing! thank you so much for this lovely post! I'm going to get out my water colours and do a paining a week. I'll be joining the hashtag with glee!

    Thanks sugar. xx

    1. Oh I would love to see what you paint! You're such a talented lady!

  3. This craft has been on my to do list for ever! This winter might be the perfect time for some guided experimentation.Thanks for sharing your top tips :)

    1. Thanks Briana! I hope these tips can help you out with learning the medium. I did some quick googling of water-colour tutorials and there is a lot out there, but I think sometimes we can get a bit caught up in how something should work or look and then miss out on the organic nature and surprises that can result in letting the paint do its thing. Have fun! Lauren

  4. LOVE this post! Laura, your work is the best! You're an inspiration.

    1. Thanks Dora! Good luck with your water colouring :) Lauren

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Thanks so much for your words of encouragement, advice and solidarity.

xo em