Franschoek Mountains with a watercolour mop

A while ago I sat in the wind on the way home from a workshop in Worcester and painted Theewaterskloof dam and the Franschoek mountains.   I have just painted a watercolour of  the same scene from a photo – with my squirrel hair mop.  It is such a fun  brush to use.  I took some pictures to show the brush as I worked – though they did not come out all that well – here is a sequence:

Here I am putting in the clouds with the side of the brush:


Putting in the bushes on the shoreline:


I painted backwards – doing the clouds then the foreground then the mountains – maybe I will follow convention and work from light to dark next time.  I had to wait for ages in this weather for the washes to dry.  Eventually I borrowed my daughter’s hair drier.  Don’t you love the brush?

Here I put in some detail:


And here is how it looks now:


I am too tired to even think about if I like it or not.


12 thoughts on “Franschoek Mountains with a watercolour mop

  1. I love this. The circular format and the opening in the sky caught me. You divided your values pretty nice to show depth. Could you paint nice long strokes with that brush?

    • thanks Leslie – the brush holds a lot of water and I have painted long strokes on scrap. The squirrel hair is softer than sable but it does not seem to make so much difference. I would like to do another painting soon, on a bigger format, planned more carefully, allowing me to do nice broad arm movements. This painting is 11 x 15

  2. Stephen, I like this very much. I like the shape of the blue sky against the shape of the water. It is really nicely done.

    And thanks for showing the demonstration with the brush. That looks like a great brush. Do you only use the one? Or do you switch brushes? This one looks like you can do very fine strokes with the point and much larger areas with the side.

    • Thanks Carol – for this painting I chose to use only the squirrel brush – I would like to take only one brush in a sketch kit. Yes the brush can do really fine work. I wonder how long the point will last.

  3. This has to be your best yet…at least it’s the one I like the most for too many reasons to mention here, especially with my ignorance of technical terminology.

    Let’s just say that when looking at a painting makes me feel uplifted – and when I know I would like it on a wall in my house – it’s pretty damned amazing. The clouds, the water, the fading sunlight reflected on both. You should have no problem selling this.

    I wonder if getting squirrel hair mop brush could do the same for my painting?

    • Hi June – this is a great encouragement. I have a burning passion to do something extraordinary in watercolour. It seems I force it down when I get into consutling mode and I am trying to find a balance. Your comments indicate that I am moving in the right direction. Thanks a stack.

      I am reading two books at the moment – one by Hazel Soan, a watercolour illustrated journal of a trip round Southern Africa and one by David Bellamy about painting in wild places (and weather). Both show the need to go out and paint on site. DB says when you are scrunched down in the lee of the boulder with the wind tearing at you, there is no time for fiddling with details – you just get the essence down. This is what I experienced in the rain the other day. What was nice about the squirrel mop was that it allowed me to splodge (if I can use this word) down great blobs of colour very fast. So for me the mop has been good. It could work for you too. It is lying next to me as I write, with all my other brushes, silently imploring to be used – heh heh. Some great technology there! (o:

      Cheers hey


  4. Feel free to use ‘splodge’ as a word – that’s why I chose it – it describes my approach to painting.

    Your passion certainly comes across in your paintings and in your words on here and I definitely find them extraordinary, so keep on sharing. If ever I do get back to S.A. perhaps I’ll pop in to buy one from you.

    • Thanks – splodge is such a great word – And it is great to hear this feedback. I intend to set up an online gallery to sell my paintings some time. Other artists use Etsy and this seems to work for them.

  5. You are becoming a master in clouds ! They are amazing !
    Oh, I have 2 mops! I just did not know they were called mops! (when you said “mop”, I had visions of GIGANTIC brushes!!) Got them in France one year. They are my favorite brushes ! I agree their holding so much water, and yet coming to a fine paint makes them ideal. Also, they glide so smoothly!

    • They are good hey? I am not sure of the terminology actually – I realise this is what I have called it. I am enjoying using it. Thanks for the comment on clouds – it is fun working with skies. I am battling with rocks now.

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