Landscapes of the Imagination

maturday and Italy day three

A hillside in Tuscany remembered…31.1.16, matted and framed…

…as we head to the Tuscan hills for a few days. 

a mini retrospective

“A studio is not only a place, it’s a state of mind” Tony Smibert

On July 1st I set out to work my way through Tony Smibert’s Painting Landscapes from your Imagination, and as those of you who followed my progress know, yesterday I completed the project that I had set myself. July was also World Watercolor Month thanks to Charlie O’Shields, so this was the perfect fit.

It’s always fun to look back sometimes so I thought today I would give myself a little
mini retrospective for the month of July.

My thanks to Charlie and to all of you who joined me on the journey, and of course a big shout out and thank you to the great Australian artist Tony Smibert whose books are a source of such great inspiration to so many.

Tony dedicated his book to his two children, so I would like to dedicate my “retrospective” to my beautiful granddaughter who is really the greatest inspiration of all.

voyage of discovery

“Watercolor is a voyage of discovery and, as corny as it may sound, the most satisfactory results are often achieved by taking what comes – not only in terms of painting technique,
but also in terms of your individual creative energy”

Tony Smibert from Chapter 11: Idea Starters, in Painting Landscapes from your Imagination.


Back in the studio after a wonderful weekend with our beautiful granddaughter, Tony Smibert’s exercise today was all about creating an original landscape from random blots.  The blots were first created using crumpled plastic wrap painted with a wash of paynes gray and indigo pressed gently onto the paper.

loti18ii    loti18iii

Land forms magically appeared from the blots which were further developed with different coloured transparent washes.  Finally, “dry-brush” work created the effect of rapids flowing through the imagined valley and the rock faces darkened to provide distance and depth.

loti18iv    loti18v

Welcome to my Monday “voyage of discovery”

Worldwatercolormonth Day 18

evolved from nothing

Chapter 7 in Tony Smibert’s Painting Landscapes from your Imagination is all about composition.

“Whether drawn as a crisp outline or sketchy…the result is the same:
a landscape which you evolved from nothing; and only a beginning to the possibilities”


This was certainly the case today particularly using the “Three Line Sketch”, which Tony describes as his “secret weapon…the ultimate planning tool for watercolour.”


loti7vi       loti7iv

Worldwatercolormonth Day 7

imbued with possibilities


Todays title is taken from Tony Smibert’s Introduction to Painting Landscapes from your Imagination.  The book is a joy to read and full of a wonderfully inspiring text from which I will take my favourite quotations over the next few weeks. The full quote today reads:

“When a watercolour emerges from the wash, it does so imbued with possibilities.” 

loti3i   loti3ii

This exercise is entitled Sunset over the Valley and combines the various washes from the last two days, namely flat, graduated and variegated.  Adding the graduated sunset wash in the top right hand corner was a quiet revelation.  It involved turning the board, wetting the sky up to the edge of the mountains and then dropping in the red which then charged the wetted area –  oh what joy! Light red was recommended for this but not having any I combined brilliant red with burnt sienna with a satisfying result I feel.

loti3iv   loti3v


Worldwatercolormonth Day 3

I would like to dedicate today’s post to the memory of those who lost their lives so cruelly in Baghdad and Bangladesh.

“Be your own painter…”

Scotsdale i

Arizona remembered I  2.7.16

The title of today’s post is taken from Tony Smibert’s quote in Exercise 3 of Landscapes of the Imagination, which I am working through this month, “Be your own painter and adapt what you want to your own work”. This exercise is all about graduated washes and includes maneuvering the board upside-down as the secondary washes are applied.

loti 2i   loti2ii

loti2iii   loti2iv

The quote was all the inspiration I needed to apply the exercise to memories of our memorable trip to Scottsdale, Arizona, where we stopped before continuing on to that never-to-be-forgotten visit to Antelope Canyon.


That night we walked on the McDowell Sonoran Reserve after sunset where the Saguaro cacti were dramatically silhouetted against the evening sky. It was thanks to Laura Macky that we included this in our visit and her wonderful post Painted Saguaro is one that I recommend you all visit. Thanks once again Laura 🙂

Scotsdale iii

Arizona remembered II 2.7.16

 Worldwatercolormonth Day 2

landscapes from the imagination

Happy First of July everyone, and to my friends in Canada a very Happy Canada Day once again. Today is the perfect day to start a new project and what better project could there be than a month of watercolor painting as part of World Watercolor Month, thanks to Charlie O’Shields at Doodlewash.

loti i

This time a year ago I was part way through all the watercolour exercises in the book by the great Australian artist Tony Smibert, Lessons from the Great Masters, which my dear friend and always-inspiring Debi Riley happily introduced me to on her blog. Some of you may well have followed my journey on thechangingpalette through those four weeks last year. I thought for these next four I would work my way through another of Tony Smibert’s books, Painting Landscapes from your Imagination, something which I often love to do.

loti ii

So for Day 1 of World Watercolor month I undertook the first exercises in the book and am now eagerly looking forward to making progress in the coming four weeks.

loti iii

loti iv

I will certainly endeavour to paint everyday, but on those days when I’m visiting my beautiful granddaughter, which will always take precedence over everything else, I will plan to post some of my favourite paintings from last year’s Lessons from the Great Masters. Today’s exercise working with washes was an encouraging start to the month.  I hope you agree 🙂