GUEST ARTIST: “Aquarelles au Naturel” by Deborah Ann Waugh

Watercolour Landscape by Deborah Ann Waugh

My name is Deborah Ann Waugh and I’m a Franco-American, currently residing in Lyon, France. I’ve never thought of myself as an artist, let alone a featured one! I am a complete novice who only started learning watercolour painting this spring, in mid-March to be precise.

And it’s at night, because I suffer from a disease that gives me regular insomnia, and a weekend occupation only and will remain so until I retire 15-20 years from now. I have a gripping scientific day job, which I really love too: discovery and development of novel mechanism of action antibiotics. I have hence begun to lead what is essentially a double life, actually triple if you count my mothering responsibilities to three kids aged 23, 17 and 10, and desire to also spend some time with my loving, screenplay-writing partner.

That’s also why I publicly use a pseudonym: Deborah A. Waugh, with Deborah Ann being the names of my [real] identical twin sister, although those active on Doodlewash will already know me by my real name. That’s why I was so touched and flattered by Charlie’s proposal to become a “featured artist”!

How I Became Such An Avid Watercolourist

I started painting essentially as a way to return, in spirit and fantasy, to my large flower, fruit and vegetable garden, which I lost when we sold our house of 10 years outside of Bristol (UK) in 2017-18 and moved in to a flat in central Lyon.

When I draw flowers, fruits, vegetables or small animals, I realise I draw (literally!) in my mind from a vast collection of visual memories derived from hours and hours of gardening at that location in all seasons. Indeed, in order to tend effectively to Nature, you have to observe, to study very carefully where and how it grows and grows best, and to memorise this information for future reference.

I am also inspired by three other locations I still often holiday in and return to in my mind when I paint: l’Ile d’Yeu, off the coast of Nantes in Brittany and the Val d’Hérens in the Swiss Alpes and a family home in Virieu-sur-Bourbre, now known as Val de Virieu, located between Lyon and Grenoble. After just a couple of first paintings, I was completely hooked. I now paint for at least one 2-3 hours sitting every day, watching online tutorials on my commute to and from work.

Focus And Sources Of Inspiration

I see myself as an “intimiste” painter. I paint individual plants or plant parts, objects, more rarely land or cityscapes, but almost always from/of places I have personally visited or lived in. I usually rely on photos I have taken on my phone or tablet, assembling them into mood boards using an application called Jux, if necessary alongside additional images (photos or watercolour paintings by others) taken from the Web via Google and Unsplash.

Water landscape watercolour

As I am still teaching myself to draw (for instance, via Brent Eviston’s fantastic classes on Skillshare), if I paint directly from an existing but complicated photo, I may use the Etchr mirror and its dedicated applications to transfer a first sketch onto watercolour paper.

For flowers and bouquets, I also use Instagram a lot as a source of inspirational reference photos, where I follow many specialised British nurseries, RHS and other prestigious gardens and famous gardeners for instance, as well as many individuals internationally posting their own marvellous pictures of nature.

Favourite Materials And Supplies

For landscapes and cityscapes I generally use my Winsor & Newton watercolour palettes which have rich earthy tones, complemented by some same brand tube paints. For flowers and other vegetation, I prefer my brighter Sennelier fine and extra fine tube paints as well as Dr Ph Martins liquid watercolours (from the Radiant, Hydrus or Bombay ink ranges, which I will review for this website soon), which are also less prone to fading.

All three types of paints can also be mixed together, often to great effects. What I also like to do is add/mix in iridescent paints, in liquid form from Dr Ph Martins and in solid form from Daniel Smith (tubes) or Kuretake (palettes). I find these paints, used subtly, really illuminate a painting. Finally, I like to enhance my paintings with white gouache, gel pens of different colours, including metallic ones, and dark ink markers of different thicknesses too.

In terms of paper, I’ll use anything good (Arches, Fabriano or Canson, 100% or high percentage cotton, cold pressed smooth for loose flowers, rough for landscapes and hot pressed very smooth for detailed, realistic pieces.

Also some handmade papers from Ruscombe Mill) but what I particularly like are free paper samples (sent to me regularly for instance by the great French watercolour supplies shop) since then I feel psychologically relieved of my blank paper fear of “wasting it”!

In terms of paint brushes my favourites are two pure petit gris Winsor & Newton ones, the Princeton Neptune Artist Brushes for Watercolor Series 4750, 4 Piece Professional Set 300 recently reviewed on the Doodlewash site, a surprisingly cheap, cheerful and very much used 8-piece Chinese calligraphy set, complemented by a few speciality Japanese brushes such as hake, surikomi etc.

My ongoing à la carte, self-selected and self-guided artistic education

As I am still very much learning to paint, I have taken several classes online and I am continuing to do so. I’ve clocked up around 100 hours of diverse fine arts classes on Skillshare and posted several dozen projects (under my real name). That’s where I first encountered the wonderfully inspirational loose botanical work of Anne Lafolette for instance, and that of several other great watercolour artists.

On Creativebug I mostly took the outstanding courses of Yao Cheng, which are again centred on loose florals. In addition, I have subscribed to several courses on the websites of individual artists such as Louise de Masi, first encountered on Skillshare, Kris Keys and Marie Boudon.

Bird Watercolour Painting English Robin

Another source of inspiration is artist Minyoung Ku, discovered on Instagram and who, I believe at my insistent request, has just started posting tutorials on YouTube.

To Conclude, The Future

What I enjoy most is painting real vegetables or bouquets sitting right in front of my eyes or better still painting outdoors using my Etchr satchel or field case and mini-palette. Finally, I don’t like my work to then get buried in my large portfolio folder so I spray a light, UV-protecting varnish on what my family and I agree are the better ones, mount them on cheap cardboard frames with masking tapes and hang them everywhere in our flat: hallways, bedrooms and even, of course, the loo!

Other than that, I still feel very much like I am at the start of my creative journey. Therefore, I strongly hope Doodlewash will give me the chance to update you on my progress again a few years from now.

Deborah Ann Waugh

Recommended6 recommendationsPublished in Featured Artists
  1. Sandra Strait 3 years ago

    Deborah (aka known as …), I’ve been enjoying your art for a while now on Doodlewash, and it is wonderful to learn more about you. Your work is fresh and lively and I love it!

  2. Lisa Ann Ulibarri 3 years ago

    It is wonderful to hear about your story. I adore seeing your art work it is fabulous!!!!!!

  3. Bonnie Ottaviani 3 years ago

    Very nice to hear your story, it is very encouraging as I am also new to watercolor this year. Your work is inspiring.

  4. Deborah A. Waugh ;) 3 years ago

    Hey Charlie,
    It’s superb! My family and I absolutely love it!! Thank you so much!!!
    Merci, merci, merci

  5. Deborah A. Waugh ;) 3 years ago

    Sandra, Lisa and Bonnie, thank you all very much for your kind words. The Doodlewash community sure wouldn’t be as much positive fun without you!!

  6. Lisa Ann Ulibarri 3 years ago

    Humble thanks!!! This is a fabulous community for sure. For the record I am new to watercolors too so we get to learn together and support each other.

  7. Karen Fortier 3 years ago

    Deborah, your artwork is beautiful and thanks for sharing your story with us!

  8. Sharon Nolfi 3 years ago

    I love the painting of the little side garden!

  9. Carole Duet 3 years ago

    Your works are beautiful and inspirational…as well as educational. Thanks for all the sources and ideas you mentioned too.

    • Deborah Ann Waugh ;) 3 years ago

      I learnt a lot from others when I started, and continue to do so. It feels good to be able to pass things on.

  10. Janneke Booister 3 years ago

    Thank you for your art and your story. I enjoyed both 🙂

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