Amazingly Loose Watercolor Paintings. Master the Hake Brush Technique | Anne Kerr | Skillshare

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Amazingly Loose Watercolor Paintings. Master the Hake Brush Technique

teacher avatar Anne Kerr, "There's an artist in everyone"

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Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Watch this class and thousands more

Get unlimited access to every class
Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Lessons in This Class

9 Lessons (42m)
    • 1. Welcome! and Introduction to the Class

    • 2. Your Project

    • 3. The Hake and Other Materials

    • 4. Control the Water in Your Brush

    • 5. Making Marks with One Color

    • 6. Using Two or More Colors

    • 7. Double Loading and Adding Texture

    • 8. Useful Resources

    • 9. Thank You! and What's Next?

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About This Class


In this class we will learn how to master the Hake brush to enable you to loosen up your future watercolor paintings.  We will start by discovering the qualities of the Hake brush before moving on to develop and practice mark making.


  • The materials you will need
  • How to control the water in the brush
  • Correctly loading the brush
  • The importance of getting a sharp edge on the brush before painting
  • The correct paint consistency
  • Using different parts of the brush for different effects
  • Using one color to make both broad and narrow strokes
  • Double loading the brush to paint with two colors at the same time
  • The importance of leaving white paper showing

I will give you two very important tips that I wish I had known when I first started painting

I will supply you with four little vignettes that you can use to copy in order to practice your brush strokes.

This class is especially suitable for beginners.  It will also be useful for anyone who has not yet used a Hake brush. You will only need some watercolor paper, a Hake brush, a rigger or small round brush and a small selection of watercolor paints. Throughout the class there will be small tasks, top tips and recaps at the end of the lessons. Completing this class will give you the skills to loosen up your future watercolor paintings to a whole new level.

This class is for you if you

  • Have never used the Hake brush before
  • Own a Hake brush but have never been sure how to use it
  • Want to loosen up your watercolor painting
  • Want to paint without having to do detailed drawings before you start.

So, come with me on an exciting journey of using the Hake brush and by the end of the class, you will

  • Understand how to control the water in the Hake brush so you don't flood your paintings
  • Develop your own unique style of making brush strokes and texture marks
  • Have confidence in painting a picture without having to follow an initial detailed drawing
  • Know the importance of leaving white paper in your pictures

I'll see you in the first class!

Meet Your Teacher

Teacher Profile Image

Anne Kerr

"There's an artist in everyone"



Hello, I'm Anne.

I am a professional artist and a qualified teacher in Further and Higher education, in England.

I have a Bachelor of Arts degree and I've worked as a college tutor for over forty years.  I am a regular contributor to various art and painting journals including ‘Leisure Painter’ magazine, based in the U.K. I have held private exhibitions in the U.K, several European countries and the United States. Up until the time of the wretched COVID outbreak, I organized many painting holidays around Europe. I have also been an invited judge at several prestigious art competitions.

 I am lucky enough to have been brought up in the beautiful English county of Cornwall, where I came to love anything to do ... See full profile

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1. Welcome! and Introduction to the Class: Hello, I'm Anne Kerr I'm a professional artist and a teacher from England. So welcome to my art studio. People often say to me that they're watercolors are becoming too detailed and too fussy. And how can they loosen up their style of painting? Well, in this class, I'm going to show you exactly how to do that. And I'm going to do it just by changing the brush that you use. We're going to use one of these rather large but very exciting brushes. And I'll show you exactly how to use it. In fact, these paintings have been done almost exclusively with this big brush. I rarely do a watercolor painting these days without picking up this brush at least once. Big skies and vivid sunsets are so easily painted with just a few strokes of this amazing brush. This brush is so versatile. You can cover large areas quickly and easily. And so keep your painting looking fresh and not overworked. Putting in additional details with a very sharp edge is incredibly easy. It's quite amazing how you will also cope with the soft texture lines and impressionistic marks. If we haven't met before. I've been teaching for probably over 40 years now. I've run many painting workshops and holidays in some of the most beautiful parts of the world. I've held private exhibitions in several countries and had fun demonstrating at art shows and trade shows. I've taught hundreds of students, both in my home studio and at various art clubs. I've written and published several e-books on painting, animals in pastel, and taken part in radio broadcasts to outreach students worldwide. I'm a regular contributor to painting magazines and journals. In this class, I will show you the incredible amount of water that this brush will hold. I'll give you some tips and tricks on how to control the water in the brush and how to get a beautifully sharp chiseled edge on the bristles. You will learn how to paint textural marks and how to paint with two colors at the same time. You will also learn how to produce very different intricate marks by just using the corner of the brush. I'll also introduce you to two books that will be most useful as a resource for future reference. This class is especially useful for beginners, but it's also useful for people who are becoming a little bit frustrated because their watercolor paintings are becoming too detailed. And believe me, you can't get detailed and fussy with one of these. My aim for this class is to help you to master one of these so that you can loosen up your watercolors. And when you have got used to using it, I'm assured it'll become your very best friend and you'll be reaching for it all the time. Your project for this class, to produce your own little landscape vignette using some or all of the skills that you've learned in this class. I'll provide you with these four little vignettes that you can download and you can use them to practice before you commit to doing your own little painting. So always remember the motto that I put in my videos. And my motto is, there's an artist in everyone. . Come with me on an exciting journey and let's get started. Are you ready? 2. Your Project: This lesson is all about your project and the resources available to enable you to complete it. I'll also give you two very important tips, which had I known that when I first started painting in watercolor, they would have saved me hours of frustration when my paintings just weren't working and I didn't know why. And I don't want you to make the same mistakes. So those tips are coming up in a minute. Your project is to produce your own little landscape vignette using all the skills that you will have learned in the lessons. We'll practice all the brushstrokes as we go along. And we'll take it slowly so that you build on your skills. By the end of the class, you will know exactly how to use this brush so that you can then loosen up your watercolors and bring your future watercolor paintings to a whole new level. I know that when you've mastered this brush, it will become your very best friend as it is mine. I've painted these four little vignettes for you as a reference. Use these to first identify all the brushstrokes and techniques that we have learned in the classes. And then use them to copy and practice your strokes. When you feel confident and move on. Design your own little vignette and paint it with just three or four colors. If you limit the number of colors, you can then concentrate more on your brush strokes. You can use that little vignettes that I painted for you as a reference or you can just copy them for practice. You can download them, all of them on one page. And I've also put them up there for you to download each one. When you've completed your project, consider uploading it to the project section so that we can all share your achievements. I can't wait to see what you create. I said that I would introduce you to two very important tips, which, had I known them when I started painting, they would have saved me a lot of frustration. So here are the important tips. The first tip I have for you and you may have heard this before, but it is very, very important. Always use the best quality watercolor paper that you can. Because your paper is your most important material. It's much more important than your paints. It's much more important than your brushes. If you've got good paper, half of your painting is already done for you. Especially if you use a lot of wet washes. Doing wet washes on cheap paper is incredibly difficult. The second tip I have for you is to always use exactly the same paper for your practice as you do in your final painting. Because every watercolor paper works differently. Some papers hold more water than others. Some papers will absorb paint at a different speed. Some papers will dry quicker than others. So if you've done all your practicing on one kind of paper, and then you move to another sort of paper for your final painting. You're going to get very frustrated because things are not going to work in the way you're expecting them to. So always use the same paper for everything. Now let me tell you all about the materials that you'll need to complete your project. 3. The Hake and Other Materials: In this class, I'll let you know a little bit more about the hacky brush. I suggest you use a large size because it is the most versatile. I'll also let you know about the other materials that you'll need in order to complete your project. This is the brush that we're going to look at today. Now, I know a lot of people call it the hake because it's felt H, J, K, E. But I know that's not the correct pronunciation. Now, I think correct pronunciation is hacky. But I'm sure there'll be somebody out there to correct me if I'm wrong and I'm quite happy to be corrected so that I don't get into any big discussions about the the the way the name is pronounced. I always call it my big wash brush. Now these are all made the same way. They're made with goat hair. Some of them are stitched and some of them have a metal feral. It's just personal choice. It makes no difference to the actual working of the brush as to how the brushes made. Because as I said, they're all made go tear. And in fact they're not very expensive. You will also need some watercolor paper, either cold pressed or rough surface. A small selection of paint colors of your choice. Two containers of water, one for dirty water, and one for clean water. A role of kitchen paper, a rigger brush or a small round brush will do, and a piece of plastic card. You'll also need quite a large pallet. Know there is very little point in putting paint into here and then trying to use a big wash brush to mix up some washes in a little palette like that. It'll be totally useless. I've got plenty of space here to mix my paint. When I'm in the studio. I will also use my big plastic palette for doing mixes. But if I'm out and about and I'm painting out of doors or giving a demonstration. I haven't got this one. I've only got this with me. So that's where this big area comes in, really useful for my big brushes. So let me show you how to go about using one of these first-time round. 4. Control the Water in Your Brush: In this lesson, I'll show you exactly how to control the water in the brush. I'll also show you how to correctly load the brush. Throughout the video, I talk about the edge of the brush having a chisel edge. That just means that all the little hairs of the brush are stuck together to make the edge very sharp. And it looks almost exactly like a carpenter's chisel. That's why we use the term a chiseled edge. Now here I've got a bowl of water. Now I'm going to put a bit of coloring in the water because otherwise you won't be able to actually see what I'm doing. So let's put a bit of it, quite a bit of coloring. Now when people first use one of these brushes that they're quite horrified because they end up flooding, their work. And this is why if I put my brush in there and I loaded up with water, give it a good old soaking. And I'll put my little pan next to it. Now you watch how much water comes out. Can you see that? Now that is an enormous amount of water. You would not want that amount of water on your painting. So that is the big mistake that a lot of people make when they first use one of these. They don't know how much water it contains. Well, they wouldn't because nobody's told them!. So this is what you do. When you load up your brush with water. You wipe it like that on both sides of your container. Now, a little point about the container. This is got a rounded edge. Now if you wipe your brush on the rounded edge, it's not going to take off as much water as if you wiped it on a sharp edge. So here I've got a container that's got quite a sharp edge. You can feel it with your with your finger. If I wipe my brush on there, I'm going to get a lot more water off. Then if I wiped it on a rounded edge. So let's put this one to one side. Now I've got some colors on here. Now, I'm just using up some of the colors from my store of colors that I don't use very often. So these are, these are not my every day paints. If I'm just doing practicing or something, I use up the colors that I don't normally have in my paint box because I don't like wasting things. Okay. So I've put my brush in the water and I've wiped it on the edge like that. So it's not dripping anymore. So now I can go in to my paint and pull some paint out. Now, I need to load both sides of the brush. And you might think, well why? Well, the reason is if you load both sides of the brush, you'll get that beautiful chiseled edge. I hope you can see that on the camera. It's a very, very sharp, chiseled edge with all the little hairs all joined together. Now most of the painting with the, with the big, the big wash brush is going to be done with this lovely sharp edge. So I load both sides of my brush. Now that looks like a lot of water still, doesn't it? Well, you're quite right, it is. So how can I take the water out of that brush without losing all the paint that I've just put in it. Well, this is what you do. You get a piece of kitchen roll. Move that over. You've got a piece of kitchen roll which is rounded. And you put your brush on the role like that. So that the only bit of the brush that's touching the role is this bit here up near the ferrel, not the points because that's where your paint is. So you put your brush on there like that. And if you want to take off even more water, you turn it over and press it down on the role. Can you see how the points of my brush are nowhere near that role? So I haven't lost most of my paint. So that's how you can take water out of your brush without losing your paint. Clever. So now we'll me go back to the palette. We've got a lot less water on there now. Now when you get used to using one of these brushes, you won't have to do the kitchen roll bit because you will instinctively know when you wipe the water off your brush on the edge of your container, you will know whether or not you've got enough or too much water in your brush. And you will take the excess water out on a tissue before you load up. But just for now because you're not used to using it we'll load up and then we'll take the excess water out on the kitchen roll. Now sometimes when you're painting, you will find that your brush is bent like that. And it's quite difficult to use the, the edge of it because your brush has bent, these hairs won't spring back. Like artificial hairs will, they will bend and they'll stay there. So what you do is you just turn your brush over and you use the edge like that. And it'll gradually flattened itself out. And then when it bends again, when you're painting, you just turn your brush over and it will gradually flattens itself out. Now if you want to get some real textures with your brush then you do that to it. Now I can hear people go, Oh! shock, horror. She's bending the bristles on her brush. Animal hair is incredibly strong and tough. If it wasn't, only animals in the world will be bald by now. After they'd been preening. their fur and scratching and rolling in the mud and everything else that they do. If their hair is broke off and twisted very easily, they'll all be bald!. So this brush I've had for years and there is absolutely nothing wrong with it. So if you want to do some really, you know, some lovely textures and some really interesting looking marks, which we'll do in a minute. Then you just separate the hairs, dip it into your paint, and off you go. And you think, Well, how am I going to get that back to normal? . Have a look. If I just put the ends of my brush, not the whole thing, just the ends into my water. And I wipe it on the side. . And all I did was put the very tip of the brush into my water. You don't have to immerse the whole thing. If you do, then you have to start all over again by cleaning and you just put the very tips of the brush and all the little hairs will immediately all come back together again, They're ever so well behaved. So let's wash that off and wipe it on the edge of the pot. Now because I've been using this brush for a long time. I know that I've now got too much water on there in order to mix my paints so I can now take the water off on a, on a tissue before I mix my paints. But when I first started, I used this technique. I washed off, loaded up. And then when I started to paint, I realized I had too much water. So I just took some of the water off. Now let's have a look at using some of these paints and making some marks on some watercolor paper. Now that we know how to control the water in the brush and how to load the brush correctly. Now let's get to the exciting bit. Let's start making some marks with this wonderful brush. 5. Making Marks with One Color: In this lesson, we'll have a look at making both narrow and wide marks with the brush. Will also practice loading the brush correctly and how to get the right consistency of paint. Now I've already mixed up a few colors. Now if you notice, if I turn my palette like this, nothing runs on my palette. So you can see the concentration of that paint. So nothing weak and watery. So I dip my brush into the water and wipe it on the edge. You've watched me do that already. And I'm going to load up my paint on both sides of the brush. Remember, we need that chiseled edge. And the only way to get that chiseled edge is to load it on both sides of the brush and take your time add a little more paint if you need, don't rush. Now, I know probably know only by experience that there's too much water there. Because if I and you see it's running. Now I don't want it to run. So kitchen roll trick. Now I come to my paper. I've got that lovely sharp chiseled edge. And I know I've got the right amount of water in my brush so I can make my marks. Now when you get the paint breaking like that, let i. Don't go back and try and fill the gaps in. Because with watercolor, the least number of strokes you do, the better. The least number of strokes will make your, your painting look fresh. Because the more times you go back over something, you're pushing the paint down into the paper and it becomes rather dull looking. You want your paint to float on the surface. See how I'm twisting my brush. I've gone from a wide stroke, right down to a very narrow stroke with just that great big brush. Now if I'm running out of paint, I can turn my brush over and use the other side. Now I can get some little narrow lines if I want to. Look at that. Use it on its edge. Get an even narrower line. Now would you, would you have thought that you could get lines that small this great big brush. Load up both sides. It's a bit like a letter X Can you see I'm stroking like that, like a letter X. There's that lovely chiseled edge. Again. See the amount of space you can, you can cover with just with just one stroke. I see so many people going over and over and over and over, going back over again and then going back over again. Each time you do that, you're pushing your paint down into the paper. Keep it lovely and fresh. So you have to really plan where your paint is going to go before you put your brush on the paper. Before moving on to the next lesson, I suggest you get a spare piece of watercolor paper and practice making the marks that we've just been doing. It's important to check that you've got the right amount of water in your brush and that you're taking your time, loading your brush. Don't rush it. Just take your time and plan where you're going to put your strokes. Don't just dab around anywhere. Think about it and carefully lay your strokes onto your paper. 6. Using Two or More Colors: In this lesson, we'll look at using just the corner of the brush to make some different textural marks. We'll also look at loading more than one color at the same time, which is quite exciting. And we'll also look at checking the consistency of the paint according to what it is that we're actually painting. Now if I load up my brush with some different colors, there's my lovely chiseled edge. Now I'm going to use only the corner, just the corner. Make little marks like that. All I'm doing is stroking. I'm not dabbing. I'm pulling the brush towards me, stroking it. And I'm just using that one little corner. So now without washing the brush or without cleaning the brush, I'm going to go into a darker color because I started with a light color. I can now go straight into my dark color without having to worry about washing my brush. Stroke the brush. If you think you've got a bit too much water. kitchen roll trick. I'm again using the corner. I could go back over what I've done. I'm just stroking it towards me. Then if I go into an even darker color, load, both sides of the brush, get that lovely chiseled edge. Can you see? And then go in again. Stroke towards me. And we have a bush. Now when that's dried off, you take your rigger brush and you put in some little branches. And then you've got to bush. How easy as that? Now if you take some of the water out of your brush. So we're going to use a slightly drier paint. Load up again. Both sides of the brush and get a chiseled edge. Now is there an easier way to paint grasses? Load it up again, change the color a but this time, always take your time loading your brush. That's the secret. Beautiful chiseled edge. Now you could use your brushes this way. And with the corner of the brush you could put some darker bits underneath that. You've got some vegetation growing. Now. You could split the hairs up and I can hear people going. Shock horror! it doesn't hurt your brush. These are animal hairs. They're pretty tough. As I said, all the animals in the world would be bald by now if the, if the hairs broke off every time, every time they got wet. See that? You can get some really interesting marks. How about that for putting leaves on the end of a branch? Wonderful. Once again before moving on, go back and practice the strokes that we've been doing. Go right back to the beginning strokes that you did. The narrow lines and the wide lines. And also practice the ones that we've just done in this lesson. And then when you feel ready, move on to the next lesson. 7. Double Loading and Adding Texture: In this lesson, we're going to learn about some more techniques that we can do with this brush, will learn how to use the brush with two colors at the same time. We'll also look at blending lots of different colors together on the paper, rather than blending them into the palette. And we'll also look at putting new textural marks in the foreground of our paintings. And also to use a little bigger brush. Or if you haven't got a rigger, you can use a little round brush to add some final details. Now let me show you something else we can do. Let's load up our brush on both sides and get that lovely chiseled age. And then I'm going to put one side of the brush through a different color. Can you see I've got that color on one side of the brush and that color on another side of the brush. And watch. How about that for a path or a beach or something along those lines. Then you see the two colors that I've used. Because I double loaded my brush. I put the initial color on first, which was the brown. And then I picked up a little bit of the red color. And look, how attractive is that. Now let's just play around with a few of the colors that we've got on the palette here. As I say, I hate wasting paint. Let's see what we can do. Just take a piece of plastic card and see what we get well, there we go. A pile of rocks. Let's go back to our paint. load the brush both sides. And let's just put in some marks down here and see what happens. Stroke the brush along the paper. We've got a bush, grasses. And let's have a few more over here. Roll the rigger And pop in a few little branches in here. And maybe we'll have some grass growing up here. And may be a little bit down here as well. So, see how you can make things up as you go along. You don't have to draw everything out and have everything perfect before you start. You can just make it up as you go along. Let's put a bit of texture here with the rigger. a lovely little landscape. But remember to leave little bits of white paper here and there. It just gives your paintings a bit of sparkle. If you fill in every single little, little bit with paint, it begins to look a little bit dull. So just leave a little bit of sparkle here in there. Now I'm going to sit and play with this for ages, so I think I'd better stop. So why don't you have a go? Why don't you get yourself one of these big wash brushes. They're not very expensive they are one of the cheapest brushes you can buy actually. So don't be afraid to, don't be afraid to use it. Now go back and practice all the strokes that we've been learning throughout this class. Don't rush it. Take your time and practice as much as you think you need and have a go at doing those rocks with the plastic card They're such fun. In the next lesson, I'll introduce you to a couple of books that I think you would find very useful as a reference. 8. Useful Resources: Before we move to our last lesson, let me introduce you to two books of a series that I think you will love. Now, these brushes have been used for many, many years. But one of the best-known modern-day artists who used this brush was a gentleman called Ron Ranson. Now Ron sadly is no longer with us. He died quite recently, but he has written a whole series of books on using this big wash brush. Now, these books were written, I believe in the 1980s. So they are, they are quite old and some of the illustrations in them are quite old fashioned and the printing is quite old fashioned. But the information and the techniques in here are absolutely wonderful and they will never go out of date. Yes, the printing is a little dated, but the information in here is an absolute little goldmine. When you can see what you can actually achieve with a great big brush like that. I think you'll be amazed. I just love this one. Look at the mist at the back here. And that's just done by dropping paint into, into some wet paper and just letting it bleed. And look, this is what we did earlier. We made marks like this. We flicked in a few grasses with our rigger brush. Now let's move on to the last lesson. I will look back on all the techniques that we've learned. And I'll give you an idea of what you can do next. 9. Thank You! and What's Next?: So thank you for choosing my class and congratulations on getting to the end of it!. Let's now very quickly look back at all the techniques that we've learned. First of all, we learned all about how to control the water in the brush. We also found out how to correctly load the brush and all about the consistency of the paint. We learned to do different sorts of strokes, wide strokes, narrow strokes, and also using the corner of the brush for different techniques. We also found out how to load the brush with two different colors to paint those at the same time. We learned to mix paint on the paper rather than mixing the paint in the palette. And to do textual strokes in the foreground. Remembering to leave lots of bits of white paper to give our painting some sparkle. So you might be wondering, well, what do I do next? Well, I can help you with that. First of all, download those four little vignettes that I mentioned. The wonders of technology!. Have a look at those little vignettes and try and identify the strokes that we've learned in the lessons. You can also use them to copy if you want to for practice. And then when you feel ready, design your own little vignette and paint your project. Upload your project to the project section if you'd like to. And remember, everybody's project is going to be different. And I would love to see what you create. You could then leave a review and that review section, you some comments in the comment section. And if you click the follow button, you will be notified when I upload another class for you. I hope you enjoyed doing your project. Thank you so much for choosing my class. Always remember my motto. There's an artist in everyone. Goodbye for now, and I hope to see you soon.