GUEST ARTIST: “Confessions of a Reluctant Watercolor Painter” by Brittany Lane Allen

#WorldWatercolorGroup - Watercolor by Brittany Lane Allen - dog - Doodlewash

Hello, I’m Brittany.  I have been painting and drawing since I could walk, but watercolor is a relatively new adventure for me.


I graduated from Brigham Young University in 2003, where I studied fine art and art education and earned degrees in both.  My emphasis there was painting with oil paint and soft pastels.  After graduating, I taught art privately for 8 years.  I have shown and sold paintings throughout Utah and Idaho.  I also have painted plein air extensively, especially in the years living in Idaho.  After moving to Washington 6 years ago, I just paint for my own pleasure and an occasional commission.  (Although anything I paint is for sale…)

I’m a mom to five fantastic kids ages 4-15, and they keep me very busy.  I try to paint or draw a little bit every day to “keep my foot in the door” of the art world.  My kids love to paint right along side me most of the time.

#WorldWatercolorGroup - Watercolor by Brittany Lane Allen - rooster - Doodlewash

I only had one watercolor class in college, and though I have dabbled a bit here and there, I am still relatively new to the medium and somewhat self-taught.  My instructor at BYU was the great Robert Marshall who passed away last year.  He really taught his students to love the mishap and unpredictability that brings beauty to the aqueous medium of watercolor.  I try to remember to keep areas of the painting loose and soft to preserve the fresh beauty of the medium.  When I overwork an area to try to perfect it, I almost always regret it.

#WorldWatercolorGroup - Watercolor by Brittany Lane Allen - artichoke - Doodlewash

While I’m very comfortable with drawing and using most painting mediums, I have always been a little scared of the unpredictable nature of painting with water.  (So hard to fix mistakes!)  I have been following the World Watercolor Group and Doodlewash for some time on Instagram.

#WorldWatercolorGroup - Watercolor by Brittany Lane Allen - Doodlewash

I was inspired to finally buy a watercolor set and dig in to overcome my watercolor insecurities once and for all.  The August challenge was perfect timing for me- and such fun prompts!  I mean, who doesn’t love to paint their favorite things?


I chose this beautiful Sennelier half-pan set, and added a few colors to fill up the palette.  I am delighted with the intensity and quality of these paints.  They are far superior to the student-grade watercolors I have tried in the past.

Brittany Lane Allen watercolor palette - Doodlewash

The palette came with Lemon Yellow, French Vermilion, Alizarin Crimson, Carmine, Dioxazine Purple, Ultramarine Deep, Phthalocyanine, Blue, Forest Green, Phthalo Green Light, Burnt Sienna, Payne’s Grey, Warm Sepia, Naples Yellow Deep, Bright Red, Venetian Red, Cinerous Blue, Raw Umber and Ivory Black.  I added Caput Mortum, Sennelier Orange, Gold Ochre, Hooker’s Green, Opera Rose, and Cobalt Violet Light Hue.  I would like to add a primary yellow in the future.  As you can see from the photo, I use a lot of yellow.  The lemon yellow is just a little too cool and almost fluorescent for some applications, and the Naples is a little too warm and creamy.  They mix well with other colors, but I think if I had a more neutral yellow that this palette would be complete.

#WorldWatercolorGroup - Watercolor by Brittany Lane Allen - girl and horse - Doodlewash

Surprisingly, the Burnt Sienna is the most disappointing pigment of this set.  It’s not very intense or as warm as I would have expected.  In oil painting I use loads of Burnt Sienna, but I have hardly used it in watercolor.  I think I’ll replace it with the yellow when I have a chance.  My favorites are the gorgeous blacks, Diox Purple, and the Pthalo Blue.  The darks are rich and lively, unlike many “black” pigments I have tried before.  The Ivory Black is really a dark sepia brown.  I love richness it adds when mixed with greens and blues.

#WorldWatercolorGroup - Watercolor by Brittany Lane Allen - fall trees - Doodlewash

I use two synthetic brushes I picked up at a local craft store.  I bought high-end synthetic brushes: a round with a nice point and a ¾ inch wide long wash.  I would love to buy nicer brushes someday, but these work for now.

#WorldWatercolorGroup - Watercolor by Brittany Lane Allen - horses - Doodlewash

Arches 300 Cold Press is my favorite paper from art school.  I admittedly haven’t tried many other kinds, but I’m a complete paper snob.  I believe in using high quality paper, and Arches is the best.  I prefer using the paper in block form, for convenience and ease of transport.

#WorldWatercolorGroup - Watercolor by Brittany Lane Allen - fruit - Doodlewash

Another thing I have fallen in love with is the portability of this little set.  I have my little palette, block of paper, two brushes, a pencil, a water container, and a couple of paper towels, and I am ready to go anywhere.  I can fill a car with my plein air gear for painting with oil or pastels, so the freedom is exciting.


I don’t have too many watercolor paintings from the past to share, but here I’ve shown some of the paintings I have completed this month in response to the August Challenge.  All paintings except for the building are 4.5 by 6” and some are cropped to a square.

I have learned so much about layering, edges, mixing, wet in wet, and adding details to paintings.  It’s remarkable how much improvement comes from painting every day.  Thanks for the inspiration!  I have really enjoyed seeing all the beautiful paintings and posts to this group.  Happy Painting!

Brittany Lane Allen


Recommended4 recommendationsPublished in Featured Artists
  1. Teresa Robeson 5 years ago

    Such vibrancy and vitality to Brittany’s art! Lovely!

  2. Sandra Strait 5 years ago

    Beautiful artwork! It can be hard to find a good Burnt Sienna in watercolor. These days I use Quinacridone Burnt Orange or M Graham’s Burnt Rust instead. They’re like Burnt Sienna on hormones!

    • Brittany Allen 5 years ago

      Thanks for the tip! I was looking at the quin burnt orange the other day- I’ll have to give it a try!

  3. mjmarmo 5 years ago

    Such pretty works. I loved reading this and seeing the different pieces.

  4. Sharon Bonin-Pratt 5 years ago

    Lovely work, Brittany. I admire how much you’ve taught yourself about watercolor. I bet it’s so much fun to paint with your kids.

  5. smzang 5 years ago

    Your work is super. So very much enjoyed.

  6. Thomas Blanchard 5 years ago

    Love your work.

  7. Jennifer McLean 5 years ago

    terrific to read your story. Watercolors are so unique and I’m sure it helps to have such great teachings in all other media. I want to learn acrylic too, I own them but am so in love with watercolors right now that I’ll have to wait to learn! Your art is gorgeous, I joined your Facebook and instagram!

  8. Yvonne Reeder 5 years ago

    Beautiful work – so calm and serene in some, while bold and fun in others! I enjoyed reading your experiences – thank you for sharing!

  9. June Hadaway 5 years ago

    Beautiful article and paintings,. Thank you for sharing.

  10. Elizabeth Metz 5 years ago

    Amazing work! (I squealed a little when I saw Sherlock and the hound, too.) 😀

    (p.s. I’m in WA state, too! ::waves!::)

  11. Sharon Nolfi 5 years ago

    Beautiful line work and use of values on the dog. I love it!

  12. Jennifer McLean 5 years ago

    I can see we’re both Benedict fans. great paintings, love your style!

  13. Pamela Smith 5 years ago

    Brittany,thank you for sharing your story your work is beautiful,it tells it’s own story I love the softness.

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