#Tubes of oil paint on a pallet

Materials & Equipment

The in depth materials and equipment pages (that were on my previous site) have been relocated to the blog.

These include for Oils:
oil brushes, oil paints, supports, plus other oil painting materials and equipment.

These include for Watercolours:
watercolour brushes, watercolour paints, watercolour papers, watercolour paper stretching plus other watercolour materials and equipment.


Visit my blog - Alistair Butt RSMA

Oil Painting Demonstrations

Selection of step-by-step paintings
Scroll down this page for the watercolour demonstrations.


Oil Painting Demonstration One

Oil Painting Demonstration - London, South Bank towards Westminster


This is a demonstration of an inner city subject. In this case, London, with Westminster and Big Ben as a hazy background to people walking along South Bank.


The picture above shows the quick establishment of the main elements using oil paint mixed with turpentine (thin mix for quicker drying) while trying to place the main darks ready for over painting.

This was painted over a previously prepared gesso board using a light blue/grey wash (seen in the sky and foreground).


The background...
starting with the area of trees, using a mixture of greens and browns in various tones to establish both form and texture.

The buildings that line the far bank of the River Thames were painted next, painting around the tree leaves/trunks etc where required.

The buildings were painted slightly darker than required as the plan was to 'dry brush' the bright hazy light on later. Next to be completed was the wonderfully ornate lamp stands that line the South Bank.

The final section was the sky (again slightly darker) painted around the buildings, lamps and tree with small areas cut into it i.e. the holes in the trees.


The people...
the first decision to be made was...

A - paint all of the people as one group i.e paint all skin areas, all browns, all blues, etc or

B - paint them individually
In the end a sort of mixture of the above two resulted with small groups being completed at a time with the larger figures done individually - working more or less from left to right.

This was the most time consuming stage, the result of the time taken to mix all the different colours. Within each group/figure the painting of the darks (if required on top of the under painting) was done first, followed by any mid tone colours, next the light tones (not that many) before adding the bright highlights.


The foreground...
the area that inspired this painting, the mixture of tones and colours of the shadows cast by the figures against the bright sunlit pavement.

All the shadows were painted first using a mixture of colours and tones before the sunlit areas were painted. Some edges required blending/softening while other sections were left sharper.

The sky and distant buildings received their dry brushing with an 'off' white colour to tone them down and create a hazy feel to the background building/sky. If using this method make sure all areas that are going to be 'dry brushed' are dry before starting.

Finally some lines to indicate the slabs of the pavement were painted with a watchful eye on the perspective of these.


Please do not copy or reproduce (repost, put in blog etc) this for 'any' reason.
Copyright: Alistair Butt and third parties have reproduction rights.

Oil Painting Demonstration Two

Oil painting demonstration two - Covert Garden, London


This is a demonstration of an inner city subject. This time, Covent Garden, London with the usual mix of stall holders and visitors.


For this oil painting, I wanted to try an experiment with a different painting technique to my usual.

Change number one:
Instead of the flat wash of Raw sienna or Ultramarine Blue, I applied a loose background wash to the board, following the basic forms and using a variety of colours. It was very quickly applied with some turpentine mixed into the oil paint.


The background was given time to 'mostly' dry before progressing. No change from normal here. This stage was the drawing up the main shapes/markers points with a thin mix of Burnt Sienna and Ultramarine Blue.

Some lifting out was also done at this stage (returning to an almost white board), using a cloth dipped in turps.


Change number two

Rather than apply the usual loose under painting, the method here was to do a sort of 'mid' finish, somewhere between the loose under painting and the detailed finish. The picture below shows this stage at about mid way through, with the background buildings. All the background buildings/trees and figures were painted wet against wet or wet into wet but in a controlled manor working from dark to light. Both these areas will have some finer details (stone detailing, lettering for signs etc) applied later.


Carrying on with this stage, using the same methodd but now working on the right hand side figures.


Ths shows the completed painting from stages three onwards.

The remaining bits were a little more involved due to the different shapes/colours on each of the market stalls. Again painting the darker areas/elements first, followed by the mid tones and finally the light areas/elements. The main shapes of the shadows and highlights on the stone floor were also painted.


The background buildings had just dried enough (touch dry) for some dry brushing to create the slight haze.

Starting with the background, the final details were then added... e.g. the stone work on the church pillars, adding more detail in the trees. Then move down and right to the smaller background buildings, before moving to the buildings etc on the right hand side above the figures, here again adding stone work, other small highlights, plus some shop sign lettering and details like the lamp hanging from the wall.

Next the figures, with only minor additions made, highlights to edges and small details like labels and hair colour adjustments.

Moving on to the pavement the lines of the stones were placed first, followed by some mid and light tones to help create the form of each stone. The edges of the lines were softened slightly so they didn't stand out to much.


The painting now needs a few days to dry before a glaze is applied.

This glaze will be like a 'shadow' wash, and will be painted over the area of the market stalls (avoiding the highlights), along with some shadows and the buildings on the right. This wash will darken the foreground, adding impact to the painting, but will also visually push the lighter background backwards.

The 'shadow' glaze has been applied to the areas mentioned above but also to some areas of the shadows coming from the figures. The difference can be seen when the pictures from previous stage and this one are compared.


Please do not copy or reproduce (repost, put in blog etc) this for 'any' reason.
Copyright: Alistair Butt and third parties have reproduction rights.


Oil Painting Demonstration Three

Oil painting demonstration three - Snow covered winter landscape with stream


This is a winter landscape demonstration. Snow covered river banks and trees reflecting on the river surface.


The quick pencil sketch done on location. This shows light direction, has some colour notes and some alternative ideas for the shape of the painting.

These usually end up in the bin as I'll never paint the same painting again plus they also get covered in paint etc while in the studio.


Having drawn up the image, again using a dark oil mix of Ultramarine Blue and Burnt Umber and turps so it would dry quickly, I applied a underlying wash using colours relating to each area.

This is an alternative to the usual all over colour wash usually applied as a base for oil paintings.

This underlying wash although thin, helps with the next stages and in places can be the final colour.


Working on the far bank of the river, the background line of trees was painted first, starting with the dark colours before moving onto the mid toned colours on some of the evergreen trees. That area was left alone for a while I painted the snow covered bank, leaving position lines from the under painting for the main branches of the bushes alongside the river. Dark areas of the bushes, branches etc were established next.

Moving back to the background trees all the snow needed to be painted, rigger brushes came in handy here for all the small snow covered branches - some in sunlight while others in shadow. Next was the medium or slightly lighter tones colours of the branches and trucks of the trees, again using a number of rigger brushes.

To finish of this stage was to add more underlying colour into the water of the stream, using colours from the far bank of trees but slightly darkened. .


Painting the stream came next. Some of the base colours had already being placed so really it's adding the fine details. I prefer to paint, apart from any under painting, the water wet into wet as this gives a more fluid feel.

For brushes it's either or both of Rosemary & Co Series 303 'One Stroke' Golden Synthetic (in the smaller sizes) or Series 279 Masters Choice Long Flats. Both have a longer head length which for me helps with the fluid movement. Mostly it was picking up the colours from the background trees/snow back and placing them in the correct position using horizontal and vertical brush stroke.

Moving back to the trees the final element to paint was the snow on each branch, again using a rigger, bits of snow in shadow first then the snow in sunlight.


To finish the painting the foreground bank vegetation alongside the water was painted followed by the shadows and then the sunlit snow.

This was painted thicker and blended in most places with the snow shadow colour to give a soft effect. Although still wet I risked adding the dried twigs and grasses in the foregound.


Please do not copy or reproduce (repost, put in blog etc) this for 'any' reason.
Copyright: Alistair Butt and third parties have reproduction rights.

Oil Painting Demonstration Four

Oil Painting Demonstration - Derwent Water evening


This is a demonstration of evening with setting sun over a calm Derwent Water, Lake District.


Drawing up done with thined oil paint. Mix of Burnt Sienna and Ultramarine Blue on a prepared gesso board.


It's now a choice of spend more time getting the colour/s and position 100% at this stage or do a quick under paint and add the detail in later stages... I chose the quick under paint with thin paint


This shows the painting a bit more than half way finished. The sky has been completed using a variety of mixes from pale blues to warm reds and yellows, all done wet against wet or wet into wet using either rigger brushes or Rosemary & Co's Ivory range - using different sizes and shapes.

Next, the simple background fells, a case of mixing the correct colours needed, adding slightly more detail on the closer one. Moving onto the line of trees which were mostly dark greens with some areas catching some reflected light from the sky. The tops of the trees were painted into the wet sky with some sky colour added afterwards (to make the 'holes').

Some additional work was started on the water before finishing the days work but at this stage, just simple shapes and a few lines ready for the next stage which would be adding the ripples on the water and finishing the foreground...


To finish this painting I first completed the area of water, which at this time, was either still (in the bay) or small gentle ripples. This was done using a rigger brush to paint the lines (ripples) - using the same colours as the sky but toned down slightly. It's important to get the correct spacing of the ripples as these can change how the final effect looks (rough or smooth) of the water - soft edges also help give the liguid feel.

Last to be finished, was the lake foreshore... the small stones were picking up a lot of reflected light but these highlights were painted last over a combination of three or four base colours to create the correct texture of the stony foreshore.


Please do not copy or reproduce (repost, put in blog etc) this for 'any' reason.
Copyright: Alistair Butt and third parties have reproduction rights.


Watercolour Demonstrations


Watercolour Painting Demonstration One

Oil Painting Demonstration - London, South Bank towards Westminster


A delightful collection of North Yorkshire coastal cottages with flowers.


The drawing was done on a piece of pre-stretched 250lb watercolour paper. Before any painting, the roofline of the cottages was masked (I used colourless masking fluid from Winsor & Newton). This masking gives more freedom for the sky and background washes. Next the whole paper area is given a wash with plain water and while this is soaking into the paper I'll pre-mix the first wash colours on the palette.

The first objective is to establish the sky. Two washes completed this, the first with Naples Yellow to the lower left (allowed to dry) and the second Cobalt Blue to the upper right. Note: being yellow and blue, a green colour can appear so watch where the two colours overlap.


The background hill was built up of three layers. Starting in the distant (far left) with a blue/violet wash and as I came forward and right increased the amount of yellow in the wash.

The next wash or washes was to establish the different areas of trees by adding middle tone washes (mixtures of blue/yellow/raw sienna/cobalt violet) while keeping the feeling of tonal recession. The final wash was for the dark areas of the trees with some branch details added.


Moving forwards to the line of cottages. To save time, as before, I used masking fluid on all the plants/flowers that were in front of the cottages. Using simple washes of colour (these vary in tone and colour) I filled the main areas of the cottages.

These washes become the background colour to the detailing washes to follow as can be seen on the right hand cottage. I started detailing here so I could establish the correct contrast between the cottage and the distant hill and then work forward and increase contrast.


Working forward from right to left more detail was added. This was a series of small washes, some of two layers (darker windows etc) increasing the colour or tone of the first wash from stage three.

These washes establish the shape of objects (pantiles/stone/ woodwork on windows). Some plants attached to the cottages were also painted at this time.


The last part for the cottages is the details and shadows.

Due to the position of the sun the shadow from each line of tiles was quite prominent so these were painted.

Next all areas of cast shadow were given washes using combinations of blue, grey, violet and warmed with raw sienna for areas with reflected light.


For the foliage four washes were used. A light green (over all wash) followed by mid green (leaving light green leaf shapes) and the final dark green wash (leaving light/mid green leaf shapes).

The fourth wash of mainly blue for all areas covered in shadow. Note: each green wash used above varied in colour and tone from plate to plant and within each plant (they weren't three flat washes).


The path area, posts, chains and stones were completed next. For the most it was simple flat washes of the correct colour (for path and posts) while the stones need three washes (light, mid and dark).

Once the stones and path were completed and dry the shadow cast from the post/chain was painted.


To complete this painting the flowers were painted. To obtain the shape of the flowers I used three washes (again light to dark) of the correct colour for each flower.

In Runswick (located on the North Yorkshire coast) you cannot miss the gulls so I added some to the sky and the black kitten that passed over the path.


Please do not copy or reproduce (repost, put in blog etc) this for 'any' reason.
Copyright: Alistair Butt and third parties have reproduction rights.

Watercolour Painting Demonstration Two

Watercolour painting - winter in the North Yorkshire village of Arncliff


This is a watercolour demonstration of an winter landscape. The North Yorkshire village of Arncliffe provides the subject,


A detailed drawing of the subject was produced on stretched watercolour paper. Before any painting is started all the white parts of the painting are masked (I use the colourless masking fluid from Winsor & Newton).

Next the whole paper area is given a wash with plain water and while this is soaking into the paper I'll pre-mix the first wash colour's on the palette. The first objective is to establish the sky and remove the remaining white areas of paper.

A light gray & blue for the sky and as the plain water wash was drying, the base colour's are loosely applied to the buildings, statue and people. Allow to dry.


This next stage was to paint the middle tones of the trees, again a range of colours used to achieve this, and concentrating on the larger branches of the tree.

Again leaving areas of the underlying wash to show through, start building form into the trucks/branches.

The ivy was again given a wet-into-wet wash of the correct mid tone using a range of greens with areas left to create form. The middle tones (leaving lighter areas) of the church tower were then painted being careful to get the stonework correct.


Almost a repeat of stage 2 but this time painting the darks and shadows of the trees.

This was greatly helped by the strong side light at the time and one of the main reasons for painting this picture. Dark colour was mixed for each tree and area of ivy and as before leaving lighter areas i.e. lighter branches in front, as this creates form and depth within the tree.

A shadow wash was then applied to all areas of tree/ivy that required it. Likewise a shadow wash was painted onto the left-hand face of the church tower while avoiding the lighter coloured tree that was in front of it.

The last part in this stage was to start painting the underlying colour for the far river bank under the bridge arch.


The right hand bank behind the bridge was painted in a few washes.

First all the darks of the banks, those areas not covered by snow and along the edge of the river.

The shadow was then painted over the whole area but leaving clear patches where the sunlight caught the snow.


This stage was all about painting the wonderful stone bridge. To ensure the lines of snow on some of the stonework I masked these before painting the bridge.

The first wash was the underlying light colour of the stone followed by the middle tone (leaving areas of the light colour) as the detail of the stone work was built up - at times painting one stone at a time (for example around the arch).

Last comes the dark tones of the bridge and as with the middle tone the detail was built up.

Before painting the shadows cast from the trees (to the right of the picture frame) I painted the bushes (using light to dark washes) to the left of the bridge and the strong dark shadows under the arches.

The cast shadows were painted and the edges softened with plain water.


I started painting the water below the bridge arches and worked forward. The reflections were painted first using a slightly darker tone of what was reflected but leaving any lighter areas (e.g. pillar snow reflection and church) clear.

Once all the reflections were finished a wash of blue (tone darker than sky) was painted over the whole area of water. This wash will soften the detail of the reflection, this can go too far (depending on colours used and how wet the wash is) and some detail may need to be reinstated.


The last section to paint was the foreground bank of snow. Like Stage Four all the darker areas not covered by snow were painted first and this was followed by two washes for the cast shadow.

Being careful not to paint areas of snow catching sunlight and working from the top forward, the first shadow wash was a wet-into-wet wash with slight variations to the colour.

The second shadow wash was added to show the slightly darker cast shadows from the trees to the right of the picture, softening the edges with a damp brush.

The last elements to paint were the dried grass/vegetation using Naples Yellow (being opaque) and Raw Sienna. The colour variation on the images is due to the different light conditions when the photos were taken.


Please do not copy or reproduce (repost, put in blog etc) this for 'any' reason.
Copyright: Alistair Butt and third parties have reproduction rights.


Watercolour Painting Demonstration One

Oil Painting Demonstration - London, South Bank towards Westminster


Fishing boats in Whitby harbour


Two detailed drawings along with some pre 'layout' sketches were used as reference and a detailed drawing produced on a piece of stretched watercolour paper.

By no means an 'easy' subject but that makes it even more enjoyable. As with most of my paintings, all the white parts of the painting are masked (I use the colourless masking fluid from Winsor & Newton).

The first wash was to establish the sky and get some background colour (using loose washes) into the other areas as the water dried.


The distant hill, which was mostly made up of buildings, was painted next. Each roof shape was painted, followed by the walls and then the trees/bushes and grass areas.

The colour was varied to relate to each roof/building before a darkening shadow wash was applied to all areas in shadow. Gaps were left for the pale masts etc from the boats.

Finally, some softening of the distant hill, along the top edge, with clear water.


Moving forward, the main group of buildings on the left were then painted. These were all painted using the same method.

The main areas (walls, roof etc) are painted first using a base colour followed by washes of mid and/or dark colour's if needed for added detail or texture (stones/bricks etc). The details like windows, chimneys etc are then painted before the shadow wash or washes give the shapes more form.

The same method is used for the small boats in front of the buildings. The final part of this stage was painting the bridge with the main objective being getting the relationship (in tone) between the bridge and background correct.

The bridge was painted using three dark washes leaving gaps for the masts and other equipment attached to them.


Each building on the right had its base colour painted first. This was followed by any detailing to the main area then the detail of the windows, signs, railings, people etc were painted.

The dark wooden posts attached to the harbour wall were next using three washes with small lighter areas left (edges catching more light) to give some shape. The whole area was then give one or more shadow washes being careful not to paint areas in sunlight like the front railings, the line of white bulbs etc.

The last part before moving onto the boats was to paint the water which was painted using the same colour as the sky but slightly darker followed by some dry brush texture to add some ripples to the water and shadow/reflection by the bridge.


The next few stages follow the same pattern. For painting the boats the usual three washes are used on each part or section building up until the whole is complete.

The base colour (lightest colour of the object/section), followed by mid colour (of the object/section) for shape or texture then finally the dark colour (of the object) for additional shape/texture.

Note that within these washes the colour will be varied and /or adjusted to suit the object being painted or to add contrast. While the boat was being painted the reflection was also done.


The second boat was painted using the same methods as stage five but had more detail due to its angle and the added problem of the light metal framework.

The boat was split in sections so that as one was drying another could be worked on. The cabin with mast etc and inside of the back areas were painted first (painting around the metal framework) using a number of washes, detailing and then shadow wash. The mid and dark colour for the framework completed the upper section.

The buoys and their reflections can next followed by three dark washes for the hull (plus reflection's) of the boat painting around the lettering on the side. A shadow wash over the stern and that cast from the boat to the right completed this boat.


This stage involved the painting of the middle distant boats and the flight of steps.

The painting of the boats, fishermen, flags etc was a series of small shapes painted in the correct colour made up from a number of washes. The areas in shadow were give a shadow wash.

The steps had the main colour painted first followed by the dark of each step and wooded blocks (in places two washes) plus some reflection in the water.

Next the area in shadow was given a shadow wash.


The last boat to be painted was again broken down into sections. Like in stage six the cabin and masts were painted first followed by the hull.

All the reflections were painted before the whole of the foreground water was given a wash of sky colour but slightly darker than that used for the middle distant water.


Please do not copy or reproduce (repost, put in blog etc) this for 'any' reason.
Copyright: Alistair Butt and third parties have reproduction rights.

Watercolour Painting Demonstration Four

Watercolour painting - swans on river bank


Watercolour painting of swans on river bank

Watercolour paintings demonstration

A drawing of the subject was produced on pre-stretched watercolour paper. Before any painting is started all the white areas of the painting are masked, in this case all the swans (I used colourless masking fluid from Winsor & Newton).

Next the whole paper area is given a wash with plain water and while this is soaking into the paper I'll pre-mix the first wash colours on the palette.

The first wash is to establish the sky and remove the remaining white areas of paper. A light gray/blue for the sky which was extended down to the river as this colour would become the highlight areas on the river and the beginnings of the shadows placed in the foreground.

Watercolour paintings demonstration

Two methods can be used for this stage.

1. to mask all the foreground leaves and paint the background first or

2. to paint the leaves first and then mask before painting the background. I used this one.

Watercolour paintings demonstration

All the leaves painted in stage two had masking fluid painted over them plus highlight areas on the water were also masked.

Having pre-mixed the colours needed, the background was painted using two wet into wet washes, the first wash was allowed to dry before applying the second, softening any edges that were too sharp using clear water.

I also painted the reflections while the correct colours were on the brush. Some loosely applied detail was added to the middle distant trees.

Watercolour paintings demonstration

With the masking fluid still on the leaves I painted the foreground tree trunk with four washes. Starting with the highlight colours then starting the modelling with a mid to dark colour wash followed by adding the details, like the branches, splits in the bark etc before the final shadow wash.

The masking fluid from the leaves was then removed and some softening of the edges was done. More detail for the reflections on the river is added before a darker version of the sky colour is washed over the whole river.

Watercolour paintings demonstration

Moving onto the foreground area.

The whole area is given a wash to establish the sunlight parts of the grass and tree on the right.

Watercolour paintings demonstration

Two darker washes followed in the tree and on the grass to start creating the shadows cast from trees to the right hand side.

These washes were a mixture of wet into wet and wet on dry.

Watercolour paintings demonstration

Further detail was added to the tree on the right. The final grass shadow wash was added and as sharper edges were required the details like the twigs on the grass, gate and the plants by the river edge were painted last.

Watercolour paintings demonstration

The final part (having removed the masking fluid that covered the swans from the beginning) was to paint the swans.

The swans were painted with four washes, the first being a warm wash to capture the sunlight on the swans with the following three for the modelling and shadow areas working from light to dark and allowing each wash to dry before progressing, whilst being careful not to paint a shadow wash over a swan standing in sunlight.

The details on the swans heads and legs being the final parts to be painted.


Please do not copy or reproduce (repost, put in blog etc) this for 'any' reason.
Copyright: Alistair Butt and third parties have reproduction rights.