Keep your hands off those washes until they are dry, says Lea Nixon

Painting by Lea Nixon, a tutor at The Watermill at Posara painting holidays/vacations, Tuscany, Italy.Our talented and sympathetic English watercolour tutor Lea Nixon recently sent me a couple of paintings with some comments on washes and light that I’d like to pass on to you.

The first was of a village in the Cinque Terre (above), one of the venues for our excursion on Wednesdays during the Watermill painting week. Lea says: Beautiful day, beautiful light and crowds of beautiful people! That is, depending on how you look at it! For something like this the process of painting is quite quick because the light’s moving across the harbour cove rather quickly and people are coming and going all the time; it made me move and act quickly also.

Lea used only a few colours: French ultramarine and burnt sienna for most of the painting, with some extra bright colours like red for the shirts of people. White gouache was used for highlights.

And Lea sounds a loud cautionary note about washes: “As always, I applied washes quickly, without going back into them, to keep them fresh and transparent. Fiddling with your washes is the quickest way to disaster!”     

The second painting, below, is of the harbour in Amalfi, in Southern Italy. Lea says: “Light is everything in a painting and you can’t see the light without the shadows so you have to paint both.”

Painting by Lea Nixon, a tutor at The Watermill at Posara painting holidays/vacations, Tuscany, Italy.

And leave those washes alone! “To achieve a fresh look to your paintings it is best to lay down your washes without touching them again until they are dry. The more you touch the wet washes the more chance there is to lose sparkle and this is where the word ‘mud’ comes from when referring to watercolours.”

Lea Nixon head and shoulders

Lea Nixon is an exceptional watercolour painter from Wigan in the north-west of England for whom mood, character and atmosphere are particularly important. Lea specialises in watercolours, the magic of which excites him again and again. He has been a school teacher for the past 30 years in art and music, so creativity is in his blood – and he likes nothing more than to help others to achieve their artistic goals. Lea says: “There are many different styles and ways to paint a picture and your own personal style defines you as an artist. I like to spot the originality in my students and work with them to develop their skills. It is fantastic fun.”

Painting by Lea Nixon, a tutor at The Watermill at Posara painting holidays/vacations, Tuscany, Italy.

Lea’s painting of the market in the nearby walled Medieval town of Fivizzano, where we go to paint on Tuesdays

We had great feedback from guests on Lea’s courses here lat year. One said: “The whole experience was amazing … I loved it.” Another said: “Lea was a wonderful tutor. He not only encouraged us to be productive but divided his attention equally with all his students, a hard task at times to achieve. I personally felt I came home with some worthwhile artwork but mainly came away with a wealth of new-found knowledge gleaned from watching and learning Lea’s painting style.”

Lea’s course at The Watermill is for all levels of experience. He says: “We’ll learn about all the qualities to make a good watercolour and I’ll give you a procedure which will simplify the whole painting process. Watercolour is a captivating medium and there are so many ways to use it to make beautiful pictures.”
Lea Nixon head and shouldersPainting by Lea Nixon, a tutor at The Watermill at Posara painting holidays/vacations, Tuscany, Italy.24 June- 1 July Watercolours

with Lea Nixon Four or five places left

To learn more about Lea and his course at The Watermill, please click here.

Painting by Lea Nixon, a tutor at The Watermill at Posara painting holidays/vacations, Tuscany, Italy.

Lea Nixon’s painting of a corner of the Watermill courtyard

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