Category Free eBooks

Want free eBooks?

Because our category listing has been getting so long, it has been decided that we collect the ‘lost’ category blogs and turn them into free eBooks. So the selected blogs can be easily found, downloaded and read in book form. There are presently three free eBooks:


Click one one of above and it will take you direct to that free eBook.

Free eBooks. Blurring of negative space.

A5 Watercolour: Flood of light through the mist. One of the paintings in the eBook “Watercolour Secrets”

The reason to do this, was due to the fact that so many of the other free art books were download. Signaling the fact that Ada’s art books have been popular, and the need to give the public more of what they want.

This one came under the category: WATERCOLOUR SECRETS:

If you want this free art book you can Download it now for free, or read or share it below for free too:

Here is another eBook from the category: PHOTO DEMOS:

It’s a collection of blogs on how to paint from Photos.

If you want to it, it’s also free to Download

And other collection of blogs from the category: FAME AND FORTUNE:

Free Download:

Fame and Fortune

Please provide an email address where we should send the download link.


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Questions & Answers


Here is a page where you can ask any questions you like about art and painting All those things you wanted to know about, but were too shy to ask or perhaps no one up till now has supplied the answers.

  • You see, whatever questions you put forward, they will give me a better idea what everyone wants to know, that I can direct and promote on this website more effectively on this website.
  • And it also builds a community where artists can gather and freely chat about art and their concerns.
  • And where you can check up on FAQ questions:
Questions & answers

A% watercolour: Wild and free.



Feel free to put them within the comment block below.

  • If you don’t want others to see what you are asking, email me direct at:

NOTE: I won’t mention your name in my blogs, unless you give me your permission.

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Plein-air Painting Fieldwork

Away again:

This time to Springbok Flats, doing plein-air painting in the bush!

Since been in New Zealand, there was a short break to sort things out at home, before going off to Springbok Flats, situated north-east of Pretoria, Transvaal, South Africa.

It was my intention while staying with our son there, that I would spend the time working on the Gunn Castle story that was originally started on this website. But I couldn’t resist taking time out to paint the bush. It is so fascinating. Each season has its own charm.

(Hey, I did get a few chapters of the Gunn Story written through!)

Doing plein-air painting is exciting. Like going out on unknown adventures:

When painting is in your blood you just can’t pass the opportunity with such beautiful fascinating natural bush surrounding you from day-to-day! The sunsets are always a draw card for me. I love observing the haze of light filtering through the trees and bush, making halos of the grass seeds at sunset.

For expats who have fond memories of South Africa’s bush:

Here are  three plein-air paintings I did. Each done at diverse times of the day.

For those who are interested in my plein-air equipment:

I improvise, depending on each situation and what there is on hand to use. The key word is to `reduce’ everything down to the basics and carry light. When you have done location work a few times you get to know what to take with and what to leave behind.

Plein-air painting of Springbok Flats bush

A5 watercolour: Springkbox Flats bush

The first was painted around early afternoon:

I took a camping chair out of the house and parked myself in the swimming pool area. The placement of the chair was designed to look out over the bush through the high fence surrounding the house.

To make things easily accessible, I put a four-legged (backless) camping stool next to me. This would support my watercolour palette plate. And In the hollow of my camping chair’s armrest I put my selection of brushes & small water-spray bottle. On the pool paving I placed my water cup and paint box.

My water container:

One of the things I carry, is water in a yellow plastic bottle. One of those which the children used to use at school. It has a white rectangular cap that fits over the top and lid of the bottle.

When I get to where I want to paint, I take the cap-cup off the top of the water-bottle and pour what water I’ll need from the bottle itself. Just enough water for the proposed painting. The water that is left in the bottle can be used for drinking or wetting a cloth that I use to wash my hands. If you wet your cloth and spread under your watercolour paper, it keeps the paper damp.

TIP: Keeping your paper damp:

When working out on location your paper gets dry very quickly, especially if there is a breeze blowing, making it hard to make smooth free-flowing washes of colour. When your watercolour paper is dry, you tend to ‘draw’ with your brush, very frustrating if you want to make special effects.

First I fine spray my paper with water both sides before starting to paint with a small plastic spray bottle. And lay my wet/damp cloth under the paper. My cloth isn’t made of natural fiber. It’s light-weight, like one of those clothes you wipe clean your kitchen counter-tops with.

Plein-air painting of Springbok Flats bush at sunset.

A5 watercolour: Sunset haze and grass seed halos.

The second painting was at twilight:

I had walked along the dust road near the farm-house, leading out to the fields. Along the way, on both sides of the road, is natural bush.I love walking along that road at sunset.

What griped me this time was the last rays of sunlight on the grass. So I made sure I got to the spot I choose the day before, well before sunset and made myself comfortable.

Plein-air location equipment

Photo of my fieldwork gear with the second outing: My camera case is to the left of the four-legged chair. You can just see the yellow water bottle laying down in the grass between the chairs. Extra watercolour paper is peeping out of the front chair’s back pocket.

My plein-air painting gear:

After getting the basics of the plein-air painting done, I stood up to stretch my legs and take photos of my camping gear. Because I had to walk some distance this time, you’ll notice I used a small fold-up camping chair, instead of the larger heavier camping chair I used previously.

Been such a low small camping chair though, you have to work fast before you get a serious bout of cramp! But it’s very convenient and light-weight. It has a back-rest and a cooler-box-bag under the chair to carry my paints, brushes, etc.

Necessary touch-up:

When out doing plein-air painting you sometimes have to complete the painting back home. In this case I needed to softened the seed halos with water and removed their hard contour edges, to give them a soft glow. It isn’t easy to create that soft glow out in the field because your paper dries too quickly.  The end result gives a feeling of mystery. The sun has just set, leaving a warm glow in the sky and over the land.

Plein-air painting of Springbok Flats bush

A5 watercolour: Third outing in the bush.

The third plein-air painting was created about ten o’clock in the morning:

This time I walked much further along the farm’s private road. Because I had to walk further I decided to split my painting materials into two small folding camping chairs, using one for wet stuff and the other the dry stuff.

Plein-air painting gear out in the bush

Photo of my plein-air equipment: Note the white water container cap and small spray bottle in between the chairs. My camera bag is slightly further back.

My light weight camping chair (in the foreground of the photo) I carried over my arm, through the metal loop of the back rest.

The second camp chair without a back-rest, I had bought it a few years before, but never got around to use it. I had left it at our son’s place. You can still see the tag on it!

It has a bigger cooler-box than the one with the back-rest. It also had back straps which meant I could use it as a haversack and free-up my hands somewhat as I walked. At the back of the cool-box is a large pocket where I put my watercolour paper clipped to the clip-board. But because it had no back-rest to it, I used it has my field table, and arranged my paints on its seat.

In this painting I intended to show the many fussy weeds in the foreground undergrowth. But the result didn’t turn out just like I was hoping. So I softened the foreground and added the blue distant bush.

I must say I was disappointed with the result. It seems you can’t win them all! But if you stand back from the painting, you’ll see the simplicity of the composition after all. After studying it for some time it does seem `to grow on you.’ Especially if you know and understand what the bush is really like in the Springbok Flats.

As to the Springbok Flats area:

There aren’t herds of springbok buck roaming there anymore. But there is a range of different types of wild animals and birds. Such as: warthogs, porcupine, black-back foxes, mongoose, bush-babies, kudo and duiker buck, franklin birds, guinea fowl, owls, white-backed vultures and Marabou stocks. And the usual range of small birds, that bird watchers call ‘little brown jobs’.

Because of the recent drought conditions, South Africa has suffered somewhat:

Someone who had just returned from spending one week further west the week before, he told us that the drought has been so bad near the Botswana border, that there wasn’t any grass on the game reserve where anymore!

Will have noticed my plain-air paintings had green in them. Luckily the farm I was on in the Springbox Flats has a good source of underground water.  Also there had been recent rains there, so there were lovely fresh green leaves on the trees and bush on the farm, in spite of winter bringing in cold-fronts.

Link to other demos:

Hope you enjoyed seeing what my plein-air painting equipment is like, and how I cope painting in the bush! There are other sunset paintings of the Springbok Flats bush on this website: Painting Demos page and Sunset in the Bush blog.

Watercolour Seascapes


Dramatize your watercolour seascapes.

A5 watercolour: Dramatic sunset.

Have you ever noticed? That there isn’t many dramatic seascapes been painted in watercolours? By that I mean action seascapes, with tumultuous seas and huge waves pounding onto rocks and cliff faces?

It seems most watercolour artists paint passive seascapes with gentle horizontal waves rippling quietly towards the shore.

Why do you think that is?

Watercolour seascapes aren’t the easiest to paint. They are a different ball-game to painting landscapes. There are things to consider and how to go about it.

First of all you have to be observant:

You will find those artists who have lived down by the seaside paint the best seascapes. They paint with authenticity. Why because they took time out to really observe the sea under all conditions. That is:

  • How the waves roll in: What they look like in each stage, formation of their swell, peck, turn and tumble and scud up the beach.
  • Tonal differences: Where the light and dark tones are and how this affects the distinction and cognizance of shapes and forms within the painting.
  • Edge differences and variations: That is, under what conditions you’ll find blurred soft-edges and where sharper-edges are found along contours.
  • Direction of light and how it plays a big part in the composition: Whether the sun (or moon) is shining from the back or front of the wave? Where the shadows are falling, etc?
  • Weather conditions that affect the mood of the sea, tidal undercurrents, light conditions, change in the overall colours of the scene, etc.
  • Best composition format for seascapes: The use of oblique lines of action, wavy S-lines and choppy w-lines of motion.

Those are the basic observances of research. As we proceed through the blog series, we will discuss more and in-depth on this topic.

How do I know so much about painting exciting seascapes?

Well, I was born in Durban (Natal, South Africa) and lived near the sea and so naturally spent holidays playing and swimming down by the sea. And so I fall in love with the sea.

But as my artistic talent grew, I started to take more notice of how the sea is painted. It has been such an interesting and informative experience over the years.

“Why is that?” Like any talent, skill is learnt through frequent practical experience and in-depth research. The more you paint, the more you learn, that each composition has different format considerations, etc.

Painting trips:

Every time the family went on a picnic or on holiday, I would take time out to do location fieldwork, depending of cause on the circumstances, then I would only take photographs. Now with a tablet you can enlarge areas with your fingertips and see how the wave turns at its peak, etc.

Painting out on location can be a lot of fun. There are moments when the elements of the sea are so powerful and beautiful that its takes your breath away. So exhilarating and inspiring. Making you want to take out your brushes and paint right then and then.

And once you have been out doing location work a few times, you learn what to take with you and how to be prepared for every eventuality. In the case of painting the sea, it isn’t surprising you’ll have people watching you and if you sitting on a rock, you have to be constantly watching out for the next wave, etc. It’s like been on a thrilling adventure.

Putting action in your watercolour seascapes.

A5 watercolour: Receding seawater.

My personal preference:

I love dramatic action-packed seascapes. Those with stormy skies, huge waves, plenty spray and mist, etc. Any type of composition that has emotional impact, such as the one you see here, close-ups of seawater cascading over and receding from rocks, cliff-faces, etc.

Following the blog series: ‘Watercolour Seascapes Secrets

So with each blog I’ll take you on an adventure. What to do in each situation, how to be prepared, what to watch out for, and the theory behind painting the best watercolour seascapes you’ve ever done.

Photo Demos

Photo demos:

Since most artists paint daily and post them on a daily basis, I thought I would rather do something quite different, by showing a series of paintings from photos.

With each photo demo:

  • Not only how I painted the scene or subject matter, but interesting stuff about what happened there, what I did or thought of the place, event, etc.
  • Where possible I’ll state what art materials, techniques and methods were used in the demo.
  • And any peculiar and unforeseen things that happened during the process and how I handled the situation.

I don’t promise to do my photo demos on a daily basis, but as a busy artist I will endeavour to follow-up with new demos as often as possible.

The first photo demo  is”Old willow stump”  and can be found below on this page. But in future all new photo demos will be found under the category blog listing: “photo demos”.

Tourism aspect:

  • Most of the photos taken of South Africa were by me. So I’m able to describe and add fascinating facts of the terrain.  For the tourist who is interested in touring South Africa, here is the opportunity to tour and see interesting places off the beaten track.
  • Sometimes I’m given photos by other people. Some photos may be beyond the borders of South Africa, but none the less just as interesting because of the experiences of the people who went there.

What to expect:

  • Naturally we can’t re-produce precisely what God has perfectly created. Therefore the demos won’t be exactly as what’s seen in the photos. As artists we have the privilege or licence to create illusions of reality.
  • Having different personalities we interpret, translate and transform the subject matter according to our imagination, preferences and choice of style, technique and medium used.
  • The end result could be a simile, mock reproduction, fantasy or outright abstract of reality.The ultimate objective though is the challenge to create something that will charm and stimulate the emotions and senses of humanity.

Demo renditions:

You may notice I sometimes change my original perception of the concept midstream. Why? Because I like to go with the flow of what’s happening in the painting. I watch the mingling interaction of the paint and how its characteristics start to take over and transform the concept. To me paintings evolve, somewhat like what happens when TV actor characters affect, define and enhance the appeal of the soapie series.

By following my art blogs, I hope you will find them enjoyable, fascinating and informative.

THE FIRST PHOTO DEMO:   Vaal River Willow scene:

Something about the place we are going to discuss:

The location is along the Vaal River, just before The Barrage, in Sasolburg, Orange Free state, South Africa. Because boating and water skiing is popular along this part of the river there are many holiday cottages in the vicinity.

I must say for me, been adventurous and observant is part of being an artist. So taking my sun-float (ly-lo) I hand-padded across the river to the reed island in the centre of the river. Contending with the flow of the current is exhilarating and so peaceful once you reach and circle round the reeds, checking out the wildlife, birds and their nests.

I love exploring the countryside with my camera, following footpaths,  rambling through grass, and weeds, climbing over rocks and trailing through streams, etc in my endeavours to search for scenes that I can used for art. This amuses my family. They say, “If Ada has a camera in her hands, she will attempt anything!”

So it isn’t surprising I scrambled along the bank of the Vaal River (upstream from where I had used the sun-float) to take photos.

Photo demos for artists

The Vaal River


What was your first impression on seeing this photo? For me it was the impact and striking contrast of colour: blue and yellow-green.

Watercolour landscape photo demos

Willow along the Vaal river, Sasolburg.

Now the actual demo:

Since the general colour scheme was cold in nature, I knew it needed warm colours to give it more emotional impact. Since it wasn’t an autumn or winter scene I considered giving it a warm atmospheric ambience.

And because I was going to use watercolours, I needed a simpler and different approach to what you would use for oils or pastels. So I reduced some of the detail and foreground. But having reduced some of the foreground I lost most of the impact of the yellow-green.

Watercolour paper:

The paper I used was A5, 190 gsm acid-free paper. Basically satisfactory paper, if it wasn’t for some of the pages in the sealed A4 pad were tightly pressed folds in them. Obviously the manufacturers hadn’t checked their production, and when I returned to the eminent stationery shop I found they still had faulty stock!

Procedure used:

  1. I first laid in an overall light raw sienna imprimatura wash.
  2. When that was dry, a soft pink wash (perm madder lake) was painted over the sky and distant tree area.
  3. When that was dry, I filled in the silhouette background trees with French Ultramarine blue and dropped-in a touch of cerulean blue. Space was left for the main willow tree.
  4. After the distant trees had dried I added a soft wash of blue to the sky,  leaving a pink aura along the trees’ silhouette contour edges.
  5. Working downwards: added the in between trees and then the cool reeds up to the waterline. The waterline was measured in relation to the bottom edge of the paper, so it would have balanced equanimity.
  6. The far distant water lilies were added close to the reeds, with reflections below the lily meniscus waterline.
  7. Then the semi-submerged little tidal islands were put in before the main willow tree. First different shades of brown with different green dropped-in and shadows added according to the drying time of the paint and paper.
  8. Because of the awkward angle of the willow’s trunk, I suggested a more upright angle by adding another possible branch.
  9. Foreground was added after painting the willow trees.
  10. Lastly to complete the picture and give it emotional appeal: pink atmospheric ambience was added to water nearest to the willow trees and as aura around the contours of the willow trees and within the pinholes of the foliage.
Watercolour of the Vaal River during summertime

Blue green rendition of the Vaal River

Another photo demo rendition:

The same scene, same size, as above but now painted on different paper (200gsm, Amedeo mixed media A4 pad). This paper has a different textured surface and is harder to drop-in and spread washes evenly.

I’m very interested to know which of the two watercolours you like best: the first one or the last blue/green one? Why do I ask for your response? Because I love the lushness of green, but it is said that green paintings are not acceptable! What do you think?

The first Photo Demos that are no longer listed: