Watercolour Alchemy

From the sweeping of a brush, the shaking out of water, and the adding and subtracting of light to reveal an image, there's something undeniably beautiful about the art of a watercolourist.

We're taking you behind the scenes in our latest tutorial with leading Australian watercolourist Tony Smibert as you learn about the art of watercolour.

Tony Smibert QVMAG Watercolour Alchemy YouTube demonstration

Orange, yellow and blue watercolour pigments blending together on canvas. Image: Carmencita Palermo.

'Watercolour begins and ends with the excitement of watching pigments in water,' said Tony.

'It has the qualities of ancient alchemy in that what the painter is doing is going to convert base material, that beautiful base material, into something which didn't exist before; hopefully something of great beauty.

'The process of watercolour, learning how to use paint, is something which has been passed from artist to artist, generation to generation. It's not about mastery. It's about studentship, endless studentship, to the processes that occur.

Tony Smibert QVMAG Watercolour Alchemy YouTube demonstration

Tony swirling pigments of colour into water. Image: Carmencita Palermo

'You'd think that when you put red into a jar of water, the water would immediately turn into pink or become red, but it doesn't. The red keeps its beautiful shape.

'Then when you add yellow, you might expect to see orange, but you don't. What you get is the red, and the yellow dancing next to it. Both moving beautifully, making shapes which in themselves, out of the quality of the medium itself, are beautiful to look at.

'They mirror the shapes we see in clouds, and everywhere in nature.

'Then, when you add blue, you'd expect to get green. But instead, it dances independently - the three beautiful colours swirling and moving naturally together. As a human being wanting to paint and use the paint, I think, this is terrific.

Tony Smibert QVMAG Watercolour Alchemy YouTube demonstration

Tony using a brush to blend colours on canvas. Image: Carmencita Palermo

'The challenge for the watercolourist, the challenge of the alchemy of watercolour, is to take these materials and then create things with the material that still retains some of these qualities.

'You can work very monochromatically, you can work brighter, you can work light, you can work dark; you can do all sorts of things once you learn the basic techniques.'

Follow along in the YouTube tutorial Watercolour Alchemy with Tony Smibert