BSA Restoration Commission Painting

My daughter sent me this small photograph that she had taken of the restoration work her partner and his son had completed on a BSA motorcycle asking if I could create a watercolour painting to capture the finished work.

The image is low quality and quite small but it contained enough detail to allow me to create a reasonably good watercolour reproduction from it. Getting enough of the fine detail in was challenging but on the whole the painting was good fun to produce and I managed to complete it in a day.


This is my completed painting ready for framing and presenting to my step grandson at the earliest opportunity – hope he likes and treasures it!


Basingstoke Canal

Terry Harrison’s latest watercolour painting project used the Basingstoke Canal as it’s theme which appealed to me as I live only a short distance from the canal and it runs around the edge of my golf course near Aldershot in Hampshire.
Apparently the canal is also known locally as the “Green Canal” because of its predominant colour green! Due to development work at Basingstoke over the years they have blocked off that end of the canal and it no longer reaches Basingstoke itself but comes to an end in Old Basing.

Arches 140lb 9″ x 12″ cold press paper.

I love the quiet and peaceful atmosphere that surrounds the canal as it winds its way through trees and typical English countryside and I have tried to capture the feel of that with the sun creating dappled shadows as it shafts its way through the branches and creates dark shaded areas across the tow path by the side of the canal. I hope you enjoy this tranquil scene and it makes you reflect on the green and pleasant land that is rural England.
It is painted on 9″ x 12″ Arches 140lb cold press watercolour paper with White Nights professional watercolour paints.

Cheddleton Mill

An artist friend, Brenda, gave me a photo of Cheddleton Mill to use as a reference for a watercolour painting. It is a lovely, very old mill that has been in use since the Middle Ages. The mill itself is situated on the river Churnet in Leek, Staffordshire and it holds special memories for Brenda and her family.

Here is the finished painting on Arches 1/8th Imperial 140lb cold press watercolour paper.

Arches 1/8th Imperial 140lb cold press watercolour paper.

Since finishing this painting Brenda surprised me by asking to purchase it to give to her sister and brother-in-law as a present along with a print to keep as a momentum!


Paper Stretching My Way

On the left are the 6 stages that I follow to build a simple paper stretcher that doubles up as the painting board too and if you mount a tripod quick release nut on the back of the MDF board it will also fix easily to your tripod for outdoor painting! You don’t have to use MDF board but I found this was light and easy to cut and work with. You can use thin plywood or even gator board for this.
My goal here was to make something on a limited budget that was both simple to build and yet practical to use and that would last me a while once built.

I found that I could get the wood as offcuts from my local hardware store for next to nothing so these boards became easy, quick and very cheap to build. I have built one for each size of paper that I like to use both imperial and metric so 6 in all and I built the whole lot in less that a day.

Step 1:
This image shows all of the required pieces to complete the stretching board.
On the left are the precut strips of sandpaper, I would recommend that 60 grade sandpaper is rough enough for this job. Any rougher than that and the damp paper can become embedded into the sandpaper surface.
At the top of the image are the precut wood strips which are flat underneath and have rounded corners on the top edges. The long pieces go all the way across the longest edge of the board and the shorter pieces fit between them so that the retaining clips are fixed on at the sides rather than top and bottom, as you will see later.

Step 2:

Here you can see that I have glued the sandpaper strips to the board itself. The other option is to glue the sandpaper strips to the underside of the wooden strips instead, this leaves the board as a clean and unspoilt board.
If you prefer you can staple the strips to either the board or the underside of the wooden strips – this is a good option and allows the sandpaper to be easily replaced if needed further down the line.
Step 3:

This view shows  how the wooden strips are arranged on the painting side of the board. You now have the choice of attaching some pieces of webbing to these wooden strips so that they become an integral part of the board or just have them loose ready to clip into place.
If you do want to attach them to the underside of the board then the next step shows how I accomplished this.
Step 4:

This view shows the underside of the board with the webbing strips in place and stapled into position. This is a simple process if you have a stapler that opens out flat so that you can use it like a staple gun driving the staples directly into the MDF board.
I like to attach my wooden strips in this way as each set is cut specifically for the board they are used in conjunction with. When you have a few of these boards lying around I found that it is good to keep everything together in this way.
It is also easier to attach the wet paper to the board when the wooden strips are attached to each edge of the board like this.


Step 5:

This view shows the board as you normally view it with the sandpaper strips in place and the wooden strips laying flat and ready to fold onto the top of the board over the web paper.
You can clearly see the sandpaper around the edges of the board.
So at this stage you would wet your paper either by placing it in the bath or sink and running water over it.
I prefer to lay the paper reverse side up flat on the prepared board and using a mop brush thoroughly wet the surface.
I normally wait a minute or so to let the water soak into the paper then I wipe off the excess and turn over the paper and wet the top surface in a similar manner.

Step 6:

After another minute or so when the paper has absorbed the water check that it is all evenly damp and then you are ready to fold over the wooden strips and fix the clips.
This image shows the clips in place and how the top and bottom wooden strips fit around the side strips allowing the clips to hold both in place at each corner.
After another couple of minutes if the paper cockles slightly release the clips, refit the paper pulling it gently onto the sandpaper strips and replace the wooden strips and clips once again.


Now you can either wait for the paper to dry or use a hair dryer to speed up the process which is what I normally do.

The whole stretching process is simple and straightforward and the thin wooden strips do not impede the painting process at all. Once the painting is finished and dry removal is simple too and the paper will be completely flat and ready for framing.

I hope you like this idea and find it as useful and reliable as I do. If there is any part of this process you don’t understand then I will be happy to try to explain it more clearly for you just leave me a comment below or send me an email my contact details are available on this website.

Lord of the Rings

Painted on Fabriano Artistico 140lb watercolour paper

Being a big Lord of the Rings fan I derived even greater pleasure from creating these two paintings that depict the “Shire” and “Gandalf leaving the shire”.

Painted on Arches 140lb cold press watercolour paper







I intend to do at least one if not two more paintings using the theme of the Lord of the Rings as my inspiration and any reference images I can find too. I love the small, round door houses, that the hobbits live in so I think that these will feature more in my next painting.

I am currently experimenting with a watercolour paper that is fairly new to me, Fabriano Artistico 140lb cold press paper. I find that it works well and takes a bit of punishment although lifting out is not at good as on Arches paper I find. Being 100% cotton paper it is very absorbent and handles water differently to Arches too. It seems to stay wet longer so probably absorbs more water than Arches which would tend to point to different amounts of “sizing” on the Fabriano paper. Like everything else it is just a matter of getting used to it’s differences and working within it’s capabilities providing I can remember what they are when I am switching between papers!

Brazilian Moonlight

The Purely Watercolour FB group are currently running a “Moonlight” challenge and I have just uploaded this paintingfor my entry.

It is called “Brazilian Moonlight” from a reference photo that I found and it caught my eye as they sometimes do .

It is painted on 1/8th imperial Fabriano Artistico 140lb cold press paper. I found that this paper worked quite well although it does tend to expand quite a bit when very wet even after going to the trouble of stretching before I started using my own paper stretching technique.

Brazilian Moonlight

Painted on 1/8th imperial Fabriano Artistico 140lb cold press paper.

I found the subject of moonlight very challenging to do basically because it is white light from the moon and very intensive blues and dark blues depending on the sky and scenery etc.

I have learnt a lot from the experience though and I now know which moonlight scenes do not really work with watercolour as the painting medium. I think that anyone that likes a challenge should try a moonlight scene themselves just to see the different tasks that it throws at you.


Bass Maine Lighthouse

This is my interpretation of a project created by English artist Terry Harrison entitled “Bass Maine Lighthouse”.

Painted on 1/8th imperial Fabriano Artistico 140lb paper.

I basically wanted to try out this paper as I have heard good reports about it’s quality. I was very pleased with how it handled a lot of water and also the the way it took the watercolour paint. I had no cockling problems with this paper at all after the initial stretching before I started. Lifting out colour worked well, in fact I was very impressed with every aspect of this 100% cotton paper.

It worked in a similar way to Arches which is a paper that I love to paint on but it is expensive, however, Fabriano Artistico is less expensive and I managed to get a really good deal from the SAA (Society for All Artists) through my membership with their site.

I am pleased with how this painting turned out especially as I completed it in around 3 hours from start to finish including drying times at various stages!

More paintings added

I added quite a few paintings to my galleries today to try and bring them up to date.

I recently finished a painting of the beach huts at Calshot and Beaulieu, you will find it in the Seascape gallery.

Beach Huts at Calshot Beaulieu. Painted on 1/8th imperial Waterford 140lb watercolour paper.


I tried out some different paper for this painting which was Waterford paper. It was very absorbent and also very prone to cockling even after stretching it initially using my own stretching technique that normally works just fine! After completing the painting I now know that this paper needs to be stretched more than normal and probably twice before starting a painting. I think I will give it a wide berth in future and stick to Arches or Bockingford paper. The finished painting turned out well though with the beach huts providing lots of colour and the setting sun gave the piece a nice glow to the light.


I did purchase some Fabriano Artistico paper the other day which does get some good reviews so I think I will give that a try for my next painting and see how that behaves.

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