How to paint watercolour animals with Meg Quilty | Colour In Your Life

How to paint watercolour animals with Meg Quilty | Colour In Your Life


G’day viewers, my name’s Graeme Stevenson, and I’d like to invite you to come on a journey of creativity and learning and adventure through the series Colour In Your Life. There’s an artist in every family throughout the world. Lots of times there’s an artist deep down inside all of us as well. So grab your kids, your brothers, your sisters, your aunties, uncles and mums and dads and come and see how some of the best artists do what they do. (music playing) (Graeme) Well, hi folks. Well we are in Tamworth, in central New South Wales for todays episode, and with a darling lady, Meg Quilty. Thank you for very much for being on the show. We’re in Meg’s studio. Now Meg’s got a very interesting history as far as being brought up in probably one of the most isolated areas of Australia, on a cattle station that was nine hundred thousand acres. It was huge wasn’t it? And a fascinating story as a young girl that you basically were involved in cattle mustering and droving and literally living out in the middle of nowhere. How was that for you when you where growing up as a child? (Meg) I was very, very lucky. I had the most incredible childhood,(Graeme) Yeah. (Meg) and if I could raise my children that way I would have. The days were fun and there was no phones, or televisions, or all those interactions that interrupt kids today. So I can say it was probably about the best upbringing any kid could ever have. (Graeme) One of the things that happened to you in your art career, was you had a very fortunate situation one day where you walked into a galley, and there was a lovely lady there called Lucy (Meg) Lucy. (Graeme) McCann. And Lucy and Barry are very good friends of Colour In Your Life these days; they’ve been on the show a couple of times. And you saw a piece, you said I wish I could do that. And Lucy said to you… (Meg) She said, well can you write your name? (Graeme) Yeah. (Meg) And I said, can I write my name. I can write my name. Well if you can write your name I can teach you to draw, and if I can teach you to draw, I can teach you to paint. And I sort of went yeah right, you’ve got your work cut out for you here. Anyway she handed me a list of materials to go and buy, come along to our workshop we’re having. So off I went with hundreds of dollars worth of incredible art materials. I still use today. (Graeme) Fantastic. (Meg) And yeah, I fell in love with watercolour. And she was right, if you can write your name you can paint. It’s fantastic, and now you teach yourself. (Meg) Yep. (Graeme) You do workshops, and also in the most magnificent home that honestly I’ve seen in quite some time. It’s almost a heritage home (Meg) Yeah. (Graeme) isn’t it? It’s an old quaint hundred year old nome in Tamworth. But just a beautiful place to be, and actually in the studio which is where you conduct the workshops as well. But today we’re going to be watching Meg produce a picture of one of our iconic, native Australian birds – one of the ratites, which is the emu. And I’m going to step out of shot as I normally do, and then got some some interesting questions to ask Meg as well about little sort of quirks that you and I are on to, funnily enough as far as you know, using watercolours as well. But it’s going to be a great day. I’ll duck away and we’ll let Meg start the situation. (Meg) That’s great. (Graeme) Alright, Meg, you’ve already done the drawing. What type of paper are we using today? (Meg) One of my favourites is Archers, and this is three hundred GSM. Rough, and I love the rough because when you put your brush over it, it picks up all the tops of the mountains, and you can get some beautiful textural stuff happening. (Graeme) Wonderful. Where do we go from here? (Meg) Masking actually first, then I… (Graeme) Okay. (Meg) so yep. (Graeme) So what type of masking fluid do you use? (Meg) I’ve got Windsor and Newton. (Graeme) Okay. (Graeme) Now we ad a bit of a discussion before, that you don’t shake it. You just sort of slowly… (Meg) Yeah, don’t shake it. It often collects the colour at the bottom if it’s the tinted stuff, but don’t shake it, you’ll end up with a lot of bubbles. So just gently roll it around like that, because it’s… yeah. And a tips I have is one of these beautiful little cook and dine salad dressing containers from Coles. (Graeme) You just squeeze it into there? (Meg) And if you get the child-proof lid off. (Graeme) Yeah. (Meg) It’s gorgeous stuff isn’t it? (Graeme) Yeah, no. It’s pretty eewy gooey. (Meg) Yeah. Tip a little bit in there (Graeme) Yeah. (Meg) and there’s a couple of reasons to do that. Number one, so you don’t have to keep shaking it. Number two, so you don’t spill it, because if you tip a bit out…eew look at that. If you tip it out it actually is a big waste. And also, it’s just a lot easier to handle if you’ve got it over near you. Also, if you put your board down like that it’s a lot easier to let it run off your stick. So I’m going to mask some of the hairs in, and I don’t really like masking fluid much, although it’s very good for some purposes. And I’ve drawn in some of the little curly bits to give me a bit of a guide, but I’m not following them really exactly. And even where there’s no white, I’m going to save some whites in these beautiful big eyelashes that emus have got. I think that’s probably enough. (Graeme) Quite enough, and it’s like five or ten minutes for that to dry? (Meg) Yep, just wait for that to dry. It won’t take very long because it is so fine. (Graeme) Yeah. (Meg) And I’ve used this little stick here, and so there is no big bulk areas. And so this should be dry in yeah, probably five minutes. (Graeme) Okay, we’ll let that dry and then we’ll come back. (Graeme) We’ll the masking fluid has dried, and now you’ve got Schmincke paints that you use. (Meg) Yes. (Graeme) And what sort of brushes do you use as well? (Meg) These are synthetic brushes, they’re actually McCann Fine Art Brushes, (Graeme) McCann Fine Art, goodness gracious me. (Meg) and I absolutely love them. This is one of my favourites, it’s actually a little, little… There you go. (Meg) Take it with you. (Graeme) So do Lucy and Barry produce those? (Meg) I think they just put their name’s on them, but they’re Da Vinci. (Graeme) Fantastic, Da Vinci brushes. (Meg) I love them. Another favourite is Escoda, which I really, really like as well. (Graeme) That’s a great brush. (Meg) Yep, I kind of use a combination of the two. (Graeme) Yeah, absolutely. Well they’re great brushes too. So how do we set the palette out? What do we do? (Meg) Okay, I have some basic colours. I’ve got a there’s a few colours I use all the time: Ultramarine Blue, Phthalo, Colbert, Cerulean, Magenta, that’s Cad Red, and I have a deep red as well. Burn’t Sienna, Raw Sienna, I have a warm and a cool yellow, as well as cad, and that’s lemon. That’s actually Sepia. Okay, I more often that not when I’m doing a portrait type picture, and this is even though the emus is a portrait, so I start with the eyes because I don’t know, I just think they’re nice to be looking at while (Graeme) Okay. (Meg) I paint basically. (Graeme) Basically you’re creating the character before you do the rest of it. (Meg) Yeah, yeah, I always were possible, always do the eyes first. Okay, I’m going to use Raw Sienna to start with, (Graeme) Yes. (Meg) with a little bit of Cad Yellow in it as well, just to warm it up further. I might put a tiny bit of burnt because it’s a harsh. I’m going to save my whites, that’s one of the most important things to do. The next thing I’m doing is while that’s still damp, getting Burn’t Sienna, and it’s quite warm in here, so that’s drying quite quickly in my palette. (Graeme) Yeah. (Meg) And I’m going to put straight on top of the yellow, right over the top of the pupil, and I want it to have a lovely soft edge. And before that gets too dry again, I’m going to put the pupil in. And so a mixture of Ultramarine Blue, fairly thick consistency, not straight out of the tube, because it wouldn’t move and I want it to move a little bit. I don’t want it to loose itself by going on too wet, but neither do I want to have a crystal clear sharp edge. Okay, that will do that one. Same again for the next one. So the same Raw Sienna, a bit of Cad Yellow making sure I keep my lights, I just keep looking back at that, because although I’ve drawn the map with all my pencil lines, sometimes I forget. I’m following the lines fairly closely that I’ve drawn, but I’m not being too precious about it because it doesn’t really matter what shape those little glints of light are, as long as they make sense. (Graeme) I like the lightness you have in your work. You’re not heavy with the watercolour, you let the paint to do the (Meg) Yes. (Graeme) job. (Meg) It’s all about the water isn’t it? If you need to stop and start on a painting, I find all you’ve got to do is soften an edge and you can go back to it later. But if you leave a hard edge in the wrong direction (Graeme) Yeah. (Meg) you have buckley’s of covering it unless you’ve got a big dark later. (Graeme) Also, some of your work being influenced by a young woman living on a cattle station, there’s images like Bovine Margaritas, and Drought Quencher. And there was obviously a lot of cows needing water out there at some stage I’d say. (Meg) Yeah, there was always cattle at troughs, or cattle stuck in dams. (Graeme) These are Brahman crosses, these cattle? (Meg) Brahman’s as far as I know, (Graeme) They are Brahmans, yeah. (Meg) but they could be a mixture of all sorts. (Graeme) Yeah. (Meg) I’m working my way down the beak here, and primarily it’s cool colours, so I’m sticking with the base of the Ultramarine Blue, and I’m warming it a little with Burnt Sienna, and that makes this grey combination blue and red. And Burnt Sienna is a red, so you’ve got your blue and your red equals purple, which is grey. If it’s too pretty, add a bit more Burnt Sienna. I’m just being a bit careful to put in the values which are quite important; The values are the lights and the darks. Because if you don’t get the values right, it’ll just look like a flat one dimensional thing. So… (Graeme) Yeah, I’m sort of watching you, you’re continuously going from water to tissue to paper, water, tissue, paper, so that you get a bit of a trough. (Meg) It’s a bit of a dance between them. (Graeme) Yeah, controlling that water and that pigment.(Meg) Yep, it’s a bit of a dance, and the tissue’s invaluable. And also I do actually use my cloth as well if there’s way too much water. (Graeme) Aha, yes it’s just a fine balancing act isn’t it? (Meg) Yep, so rinse, and that dirty water and a clean water, so that gets the bulk of it. And if I want pure water I just got a bit, and I’m going to soften that bottom edge. And see how that gives it a roundness there and let that to be up there as well. (Graeme) Now you’ve got a picture here called Barnaby, (Meg) Barnaby. (Graeme) and its a sheep. And the local member in this area is a gentleman called Barnaby Joyce. (Meg) Sorry, Barnaby. (Graeme) And you actually showed him this picture at a function. Is that correct? (Meg) Yes, at the Currabubula, there was an annual exhibition, Red Cross Exhibition Currabubula, and yeah, he was there. Anyway, I showed him. I hope he was impressed. (Graeme) And also, a really fun piece as well, the Seagulls Picnic. (Meg) Yep. (Graeme) It’s like you’ve only got to leave a bag of chips around for two seconds and they’ll be gone, as we all know. But that’s a great picture as well. (Meg) Just going in with some darks so that the beak stands out. If you put a dark in behind you can counteract that by going in quite dark underneath. Just going to wash this down now with lots of water like that. And just keeping the sides of it slightly wet, so that I can come back to it when I’m ready. (Graeme) Yes. (Meg) Okay, I like to mix my colours, well I shouldn’t say mix my colours on the page, cause I’m not mixing them on the page; they’re mixing themselves on the page. Because if you do it in the palette they can end up being quite dead looking, and flat, even though you can get a very pretty purple, or a very pretty green. If you mix it in the palette it will be a solid colour as if it’s come straight out of the tube. So now matter how pretty it is it’s still a bit boring I think. Okay, I’m going to move over to this eye now. He’s only got one eye, yes, but the same principle as before. I’m just going to put all of the Raw Sienna over the whole area like this except for the highlights. Not putting it over the little chinks of light that need to be there. (Graeme) Now you’ve got some other wildlife pieces here as well. (Meg) Yep. (Graeme) You’ve got one called Galah, and I think the Galah might be called Gary. (Meg) Yes, Gary. There’s another version of Gary. (Graeme) Gary the Galah. (Meg) Galah’s are gorgeous. I spent some time in Gulargambone, (Graeme) Yeah. (Meg) so that’s I guess maybe why I like galahs. (Graeme) They’re a very iconic country parrot. (Meg) Yeah. (Graeme) Probably one of the most popular parrots we’ve got. (Meg) They’re beautiful;I love them; they’re just so comical. (Graeme) And then you’ve also got in your wildlife series, you’ve painted a giraffe. And also another piece called Hey Dee Ho, which is an elephant walking under an Acacia tree, which looks great. It’s a great piece. Now apart from Barry and Lucy being great influences on your career, another one of our good friends who has influenced you as well is Jo Zbukvic. (Meg) Yes. (Graeme) Probably regarded as the number one watercolour artist in the world. (Meg) He’s incredible, he’s very, very skilled, yeah. (Graeme) No two ways about it. And also John Lovett, (Meg) Yep. (Graeme) who’s a very, very talented man also. (Meg) Fantastic colours and looseness to his work which is what I love about his stuff. (Graeme) Yeah. (Meg) Very talented. (Graeme) So you also conduct workshops for people in the Tamworth area. (Meg) Yes. (Graeme) Everybody around this country area because it’s so sparse, is that they do a lot of traveling anyway, (Meg) Yep. (Graeme) to get where they need to go. But if somebody wants to get in touch with you about your workshops, what’s your website address? (Meg) It’s just www Meg Quilty dot com. (Graeme) I recommend that people that are in the Tamworth and surrounding area, if you want to be taught by a great teacher and learn some amazing things, you come along and see Meg. And go to her website Meg Quilty dot com, and give her a call. And come to her beautiful home which really is quite spectacular on its own, and learn from a great lady. Now you also love painting your beautiful daughters – all five of them. (Meg) Yeah. (Graeme) And you’ve got one piece here called Coco Chloe, and Coco’s a budding artist herself. She’s got an instagram page as well doesn’t she? (Meg) Yeah, she’s very, very clever. She’s got a completely different style to me, but she does some amazing, work amazing work and yeah. (Graeme) And that is at Coco Chloe? (Meg) Coco Chloe is her Instagram name, (Graeme) Okay. (Meg) and she does some pretty cool stuff. (Graeme) And you’ve got some other pieces here, Molly, your youngest daughter with her dad, Daddies Little Girl. (Meg) Yeah, just a baby. (Graeme) A lovely piece. And then one that looks like a lot of fun, Bridget, and Bridget obviously been up to some sort a lot of mischief with a look like that on her face. (Meg) Bridget was chasing baby goats. (Graeme) There you go. Okay, we’ve finished the second emu and we’ve got one to go. (Meg) Yes, the last one of the three stooges. Okay, I’m going to go back in with the same way, being careful not to loose my whites of the eyes. (Graeme) You’ve been a very versatile artist in your career as well, and you’ve done some, also some beautiful florals which are I think are quite, quite wonderful. You’ve got one, Magnolia, (Meg) Yeah. (Graeme) which is beautiful. The starkness of that white petal coming out. And then there’s another one called Magnolias. And then one that I particularly like which is Tulips. It’s got a really soft subtle pink hue going all the way through it. (Meg) One of my favourite flowers the tulip and the magnolia. Okay, so I’m moving down the neck a little bit here, bringing these beautiful colours Phthalo and Magenta and a bit of Ultramarine Blue into it. I think they’re beautiful colours. (Graeme) And this is mostly dry brushing? (Meg) Mostly dry brushing. I’m going to put some – this up here’s not – but where I putting the Ultramarine Blue and the Burnt Sienna mostly is, and I’m going to throw some water at it in a minute, because I don’t want it to be too busy. And when you see a lot of those sparkles through there, I call them sparkles because they’re the bits of the whites of the paper sparkling through. It gets a bit… it takes your eye away from here, because this is quite busy so you need this flat wash. I’m just putting in a bit of a base of where I’m going to go with the features, and then I’ll come in with the background and then put some more on top again. So I might just pull up stumps there I think for now. How does that look? (Graeme) Fantastic. (Meg) Okay, the background is next and I need to put that on before I can remove the masking fluid, or do any of the extra detail that goes on top of the background. So to choose the background I look at my reference photo and the painting itself more importantly, and pick some colours that are in there to bring into the background. I’m going to turn it upside down, and there’s two reasons for that. One thing I want it to bring down this way, away from the emus heads is the main one, so that it doesn’t run smack bang over the top of them. I’m going to start with Burn Sienna base I think, and I’m just going to use some mud in my palette, cause it’s a really nice colour. And I look at that and you think yeah, that’s actually pretty good. Plenty of water straight in like this, and where ever there’s that bead of water there of liquid, hanging at the top, see that little thing there, that means you can come back and get that later. That’s just hanging there waiting. Okay, lots of water. I’m not going over it strongly, but I just want to have it so it’s not too cut out and stuck on looking. And if you link it in a little bit like that. There we go right up to the edges. Now I’m going to get a bit of blue happening. I just want to turn this around for a moment, just till I get – whoops – that’s what happens. (Graeme) Is there an emergency? (Meg) That’ll be okay. It doesn’t matter if it runs in there, but I just want to cut carefully up around there. (Graeme) Aha. (Meg) Okay, there we go. I’m turning that around again, so it can run back here. Up around the face carefully. (Graeme) Okay. (Meg) So I’m going to put that flat now, so it can stop running. Otherwise it’s going to go silly. (Graeme) Well we’re going to let that dry so we’ll wait till that dries, and then we’ll come back and away we go. (Graeme) Okay, now we’ve got to the stage were we’ve dried all that off. It looks fantastic, but we’ve still got the masking fluid. (Meg) Yes, the masking fluid, this rubber stuff I’ve got to take off and I use this gorgeous little one skin fluid remover. (Graeme) Yeah. (Meg) It’s pretty mangey looking but yeah, it’s cool. Okay, so what I’m going to do, is I don’t just rub it like an eraser. It just picks it up like that, and you just drag it off. And you have to make sure your page is very dry, or it will tear the paper. But you can see now where it’s left gorgeous little highlights there. And some of them are very harsh, but you can go back and fiddle with them with your brush later. (Graeme) Yes. (Meg) Just keep doing that. There’s going to be a lot more lashs of hair and what not in there. But this is just to make sure that some of the whites were saved. And you can feel it like that to see if it’s all off. As long as your papers dry, you’ll be fine. Get those ones off there. There we go. (Graeme) Beautiful. Well it’s wonderful we’ve been able to get this far with you today, but you’ve got a lot more work to do. You want to tweak it even more than you are now. So what else are you going to do, and over what period of time? (Meg) Well over the next day or so I want to sit back and look at it, but not before I’ve put some darks in the eyebrows still have to go on. There has to be some of these lovely little curlies up the the top put on. This has to be put in over the top there. There’s some lovely fuzzy bits that need to come down the sides of the neck yet. So basically some tweaking and calligraphy basically. The little darks have to go in and then it should be just about finished. (Graeme) And because of the beauty of TV and editing, you can actually see the finished product in front of us now which looks quite amazing. But well done, we had a fantastic day with you Meg, you’re an amazingly talented lady. And yeah, I think it’s just fantastic. (Meg) Great, thank you very much. (Graeme) Okay, guys, here we are Tamworth. A little cool of course, in the winter time. But we’ve had a great time, thank you so much (Meg) Thank you, Graeme. (Graeme) for having us on the show. Now apart from the great workshops that Meg actually does in her beautiful home, she also has a B&B, which is designed obviously, a very artistic position as well. Quilty House, (Meg) Yes. (Graeme) which is what it’s called. It’s a magnificent old home, it’s a hundred and something years old I suppose. (Meg) Yeah, over a hundred years old. (Graeme) Yeah, it’s an amazing place. It really is. If you wanted to come along, be with Meg, do her workshops and actually stay at the house. I think it’s a fantastic idea, so go and see Meg, at Meg Quilty dot com, and get in touch with her there. Also you can come and see us on Facebook and YouTube, and also support us on Patreon as well. We have some great people coming in these days that love what we’re doing, and obviously with the fact that we’re expanding needs as much help as we can possibly get. But we’re going to leave Tamworth, go and film some more people in this beautiful country of ours. And until we meet again – remember guys: make sure you put some colour in your life. We’ll see you next time. Bye now. (Meg) Bye.

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