GUEST ARTIST: “The Essence Of Watercolour” by Hazel Soan

My name is Hazel Soan, I am based in London and Cape Town, and I was one of those lucky people who knew what they wanted to do before leaving school: I wanted to make a living through art. I went to Art College and upon graduation immediately launched into painting as a career.

#WorldWatercolorGroup - Watercolour by Hazel Soan - DoodlewashWatercolour became my main painting medium, principally because it was easy to combine with travel, but eventually because I found it such a pure way of using the properties of pigments in paintings. This has given me a wonderful life and is one of the reasons I became eager to share my love of painting through writing books and presenting films (see tutorials below).

To me, to make an image appear on a blank sheet of paper is almost magical – it is a chance for an earthbound human to taste what it is to create, from nothing, something that did not previously exist and yet now does. Of course, it is not from nothing, because we have a wonderful array of pigments in our palette, exquisitely tapered brushes and creamy white papers, but I still think painting in watercolour is a miracle of sorts. My best watercolours are often those I feel happened despite me, rather than because of me, and I stare in wonder at the way the pigment dries and settles on the paper in an array of exquisite blends.

#WorldWatercolorGroup - Watercolour by Hazel Soan - Doodlewash

#WorldWatercolorGroup - The Essence of Watercolour by Hazel Soan - Book - DoodlewashIn my book, “The Essence of Watercolour”, which is now available in paperback, I try to explain, in words and through paintings, the lively essential nature of watercolour. It is a love affair with pigment, colour, clean water and textured paper, with sable brushes, watching paint dry, patience, adrenalin, angst and wonder. The book is a practical guide to making fresh lively watercolours, it is very much about the medium itself, how to keep the paint happy, not overworked or pushed into muddy clumps, or dulled by too many layers.

#WorldWatercolorGroup - Watercolour by Hazel Soan - Doodlewash

The greatest transparency in watercolour lies in the initial layers, thereafter maintaining transparency means using the right pigments for the task – recognising  the natural characteristics and attributes is paramount. There are so many magnificent colours in every manufacturer’s range but it is important to get to know a set of colours really well so you have some idea what is going to happen when you mix, blend and layer them on the palette or on paper.

#WorldWatercolorGroup - Watercolour by Hazel Soan - Doodlewash

Watercolour is transparent in more ways than one: it is easy to see the spirit in which a watercolour is made, far more than in any other painting medium! It is also more forgiving than many people think, but this means knowing which colours can lift, rather than stain, which are opaque and which transparent, which are warm and which are cool.

#WorldWatercolorGroup - Watercolour by Hazel Sloan - DoodlewashIf you enjoy “Essence of Watercolour”, follow up with “Watercolour Rainbow”, which is a more detailed book about the individual attributes of the main colours I use in my paintings.

Putting together books and films is a wonderful way of passing on my passion and encouraging people to paint, and while they take some time away from ‘proper’ painting, they have an added advantage – finding ways to be succinct in writing, and straightforward in film, clarifies the mind and feeds into the painting. The maxim that you learn 90% of what you teach is very true, by explaining what I have learned from practice, I find myself thinking more decisively when I paint.

There comes a point though, after a few days of explanatory painting, when analysis takes over from synthesis and spontaneity starts to suffer, now, when I feel that time coming on, I make sure I return to painting just for myself!

#WorldWatercolorGroup - Watercolour by Hazel Sloan - Doodlewash

Although a lot of my work is done while travelling, I also have a studio base in London and Cape Town, where I complete my larger works and paint the oils and acrylics. In London, my studio combines as a gallery, which is a wonderful space to show paintings and on occasion acts as a good location for a workshop.

#WorldWatercolorGroup - Watercolour by Hazel Sloan - Doodlewash

#WorldWatercolorGroup - Watercolour by Hazel Soan - DoodlewashWith each passing day, painting thrills me more than ever. Mastering watercolour is a journey without end. The beauty is that painting has no age limit, takes very little space, and requires few materials, oh what a wonderful journey!

Hazel Soan

Books by Hazel Soan

Watercolour Tutorials by Hazel Soan

The Essence of Watercolour Book & DVD with Hazel Soan
Book also available on

Learn Watercolour Quickly Book & DVD set with Hazel Soan
Book also available on


Recommended5 recommendationsPublished in Featured Artists, Tutorials
  1. Sand Salt Moon 5 years ago

    Hazel, your work is fabulous. You inspire me! Thanks for this … beautiful

  2. Posey Gaines 5 years ago

    Wonderful post, paintings and videos! Thanks for taking time to create a post for DoodleWash.

  3. John Hofman 5 years ago

    Magnificent work; the epitome of water colour.

  4. Susan Cuss 5 years ago

    oh, I love your paintings, and now I’m going to check out those videos! Thanks.

  5. Sandra Strait 5 years ago

    I always describe myself as self-taught. That means, of course, that I chose my own textbooks by reading the authors that most inspired me. Your books have always foremost among my ‘textbooks’. Thank your sharing your talent and techniques with us.

  6. Nay Aung 5 years ago

    Thanks a lot for your sharing Hazel! You’re one of my admired watercolorists.
    Currently I’m reading your 10 minutes watercolour in Kindle format.Hope I can read the essence of watercolour in kindle.Because usually Amazon doesn’t ship paperback to our country.

  7. Jennifer McLean 5 years ago

    spectaular art, and so beautifully painterly.

  8. Sharon Bonin-Pratt 5 years ago

    Your paintings are so delicate yet they do not betray the power of the subjects you paint. I love your line, “I stare in wonder at the way pigment dries.” Watercolor is about the medium more than any other art media and your paintings are proof.

  9. Darina Valášková 5 years ago

    Thank you very much. For your time and willingness to share. I’m a beginner. The videos are for beginners very easy to understand and informative. And I do not know English – I use a translator.

  10. Elizabeth Metz 5 years ago

    Your book on painting people quickly has been on my wishlist forEVER, it seems. After reading this, it’s totally going into my cart. Thank you!

  11. Jennifer McLean 5 years ago

    it must be incredible to have your own book. Beautiful style, no wonder you’re published!

  12. James Nyika 5 years ago

    Hazel, wonderful book you have.I own it and cannot put it down. Your wildlife pictures are just fantastic. Thank you so so much…

  13. Debo Shree 5 years ago

    I am soo inspired by your paintings.. you are amazing. I love the way you let the watercolour flow on your artworks .. I seems you never control them really you just guide them.. and art happens..

  14. […] discovered yet another little book via Philippe called 10-Minute Watercolours by Hazel Soan. Her work is amazing and so beautifully subtle, with an effortless style and perfect proportions […]

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