Helpful watercolor video lesson

Hi everyone! Just a quick post to share a watercolor video that I found last night that I think is great. I watch a lot of “speed painting” videos on YouTube. I love these videos because you can see hours of painting compressed down to just a few minutes. It’s not only fun to see how other artists work, but it’s also amazing to see a painting materialize right before your eyes.

This video is from Gillian Marklew-Allen, a UK-based artist who does beautiful watercolors.

What I found particularly helpful about the video was watching how she used layers to build form. Instead of using a few simple washes of color, she adds layer after layer of paint in a wide range of colors to create her subject’s skin, hair and clothing. It not only gives the painting a lot of depth, but it also makes it far richer and more interesting to look at than if she had just created the skin with a simple wash of one or two colors.

I also really love the beginning of the video where she starts laying in color. Instead of meticulously placing color, she lays out blobs of color in the general shapes that she needs.  At one point it is just random colors on the paper with no indication of what it is going to become.

It is a good reminder that all paintings go through a phase where they look nothing like what you are trying to paint. I tend to give up during this phase instead of pressing on through.

From now on one of my  goals is going to be to push through the “ugly” phase to see if I can add enough depth and detail to transform the painting into something that is a bit less blobby and a bit more interesting.

At any rate, I hope you find it as insightful and inspiring as I did. I know I am going work on implementing some of the techniques in the video in my own paintings to see if I can get better results. Let me know what tips you pick up from the video!

Also, you can learn more from Gilly or take some of her classes at these other places as well:




  1. One thing I’d like to say is that I like your website style! It’s very clean and informative.

    The question I have for you is that how you learn from speed painting? I am a beginner and also watch a lot of speed painting on Youtube, but I still don’t know where to start.

    • Hi Cece! I think the biggest thing I learn from watching speed painting is how other artists approach a painting as a whole. Some people work on one section at a time until it is totally finished – like if they are doing a portrait they might do both of the eyes, then move on to the nose, then the lips, etc. Other people put layers of paint over the whole painting, starting with the light tones and working to the dark tones. Since I am still learning, this gives me ideas for some of the different ways I can approach my paintings, too.

      Speed painting videos are great for getting the “big picture”, but crummy for learning much about how to actually paint. For that, I watch teaching videos that are specifically geared toward beginners. Kelly Eddington has a lot of helpful beginner videos if you haven’t checked her out. Here’s a link to her YouTube channel:

      ArtistsNetwork.TV is also great for learning. It costs money to watch the full-length videos, but you can actually pick up a lot of helpful tips from their free previews without having to pay. Just choose “watercolor” under the workshops and you will see tons and tons of videos.

      Another thing I would highly suggest for learning is to go the library and check out “Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain”. It is amazing for helping you see things the way they really are instead of how your mind brain *thinks* they are. It’s geared toward drawing, but is also really helpful for painting, too, since it teaches you to see things like an artist.

      Obviously I’m still learning, too, so those are the only tips I have for now. I think the best thing we can do is just practice, practice, practice! 🙂 Thanks so much for stopping by and commenting!


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