Ok, so this isn’t the best step-by-step tutorial. Sorry, I don’t have photos of all the stages and I only have a detail for the final piece because I wanted to show the ink line work at the final stage, but I think there’s enough info here for you to have a go at working with ink and watercolour before the bluebells fade in the woods. I will do better on the next demos… promise.

Paper Watercolour Paper – Bockingford, Arches or Saunders Waterford NOT or Cold Pressed. At least 140lb weight. Quarter Imperial size – 15x11inches.
Brushes SAA Silver all rounder brush size 10
SAA Silver big flat brush 1.5inch
Paints Cobalt blue, lemon yellow, burnt sienna, lavender, lilac, violet and indigo
Ink FW Daler Rowney acrylic ink – Paynes Gray
Pens Uni Pin Fineliners o.5 and 0.8
Pencil 2B

You can either do the ink line work first and add watercolour and acrylic ink afterwards or paint first and then add the ink lines and details to define shapes to your painting at the end. I prefer the second method. I had numerous sketches that I did out in the woods to work out the composition and simplify the scene.

Stage 1
Do a rough pencil sketch and then use diluted ink to put in the darkest areas with a brush. Don’t do too much at this stage as you can’t fix mistakes but you can add more ink work later if necessary.


Stage 2
Mix diluted pools of your colours in a palette first. Be generous with your paint and make sure you have enough of each colour to use for the whole picture. Cobalt blue, lemon yellow, lavender, lilac and violet.

Wet the top half of the painting then paint the sky in a very diluted wash of cobalt blue with a hint of lavender and diffuse this with water to fade to white.

Paint the distant bushes with diluted washes of lemon yellow and cobalt blue allowing the colours to mix on the paper to give patchy greens. Do this working from the base of the bushes upwards, making sure you leave a white area between the bottom of the sky and the tops of the bushes. Dry.

Stage 3
Paint the bluebells in patches starting from the furthest to the nearest, allowing colours to mix and blend together and making the colours stronger and brighter as you work towards the foreground. Add in the path again in patches to match the rest of the painting style using a diluted mix of burnt sienna and indigo. Dry.

Stage 4
Paint the leaves on the trees starting with patches of yellow then adding cobalt blue and indigo to give an impression of clusters of leaves on the branches.

Enhance some areas of bluebells to give strong darks with a mix of cobalt blue and violet and darken some of the grass areas with indigo and yellow. Remember that bluebells grow in clusters and lines rather than being evenly dotted across the ground because they have self-seeded rather than having been planted. Add burnt sienna to the tree trunks.

Stage 5
Go back in to the darkest areas on the tree trunks and branches and fence with acrylic ink to give more definition. Add line work to tree trunks, branches, grasses, bluebells and leaves.

You can download the PDF of this here.

Bluebell woods in ink and watercolour

If you have any requests for specific demos let me know and I will see what I can do.