Art Products, Tuition

Creating An Autumn Scene Using Mixed Media

3rd June 2020 Estimated reading time: 4 mins
From Paint Magazine: September 2015

The Schmincke Bronzes contain real metal pigments and come in formulations suitable for painting in oil, acrylic or watercolour, enabling you to add anything from a really rich gold through to a shiny silver to your paintings. Best known for her loose and lively watercolours, we invited Jane Betteridge to experiment with the Aqua Bronzes, which are perfect for adding glossy metal effects to watercolour paintings. Jane Betteridge was enchanted by Schmincke’s Genuine Artist Bronzes describing them as “little pots of magic fairy dust that really add another dimension to a painting”.

Step 1:Prepare your painting in Mixed Media

I prepared a piece of mount card by sticking on cotton thread, honesty seeds and seed heads and a few skeleton leaves with PVA glue. Go exploring in your house and garden to see what you can find. Next, I applied Daniel Smith Watercolor Ground all over the surface covering all the things I’d stuck on earlier and then left this overnight to dry thoroughly.

Step 2: Dropping in colour

With the mount card completely dry, I wetted the surface all over with clean water and starting with the Quinacridone Gold began dropping in all of the colours working my way down the paper, allowing them to blend wet into wet. This was then left to dry.

Step 3: Adding shimmer

I used the end of a palette knife to transfer the very fine particles of the Copper, Silver and Gold bronzing powders into an old palette and mixed them with a few drops of clean water. I found them to be very rich and creamy and easy to mix, each colour creating a rich ‘liquid metal’. I then painted the honesty seed heads in Silver allowing a little of the background colour to show through. Next, I used the Gold and Copper to paint the skeleton leaves. I made sure I softened the edges a bit and allowed some background colour to show through. I added both colours to each leaf in varying degrees to give an autumnal feel then left it to dry.

Step 4: Adding Ink

Next, I dampened the background by gently spraying with a little water and added some Sepia acrylic ink to suggest some distant twiggy bits and, with a Rigger, just caught the edge of the honesty seed heads and painted a line nearly all around. I added Sepia ink to the bottom area of the painting to darken it and give it some depth. I added Granulation Medium to this by using a pipette and encouraged it to seep up the painting and around the skeleton leaves to make them stand out more. I let this dry and then, again with a Rigger brush and Sepia ink, touched the raised surface of the leaves and picked out a few veins.

Step 5: Adding effects

Finally when everything was dry I painted over the seeds again with Sepia and added two or three distant seed heads. To lift it all a bit more I just touched the raised surface of the cotton threads with some of the Gold paint and spattered here and there with the Copper.
These lovely bronzing powders are ideal for contemporary watercolours where you can really go to town with spattering and interesting backgrounds, using the Gold for cornfields, sunflowers or rock formation, the copper for more autumn themes, such as leaves and teasels and the Silver for stark, cold, wintry foliage or landscapes. They could be laid on thick to create a solid metal effect in highly textured work, (much better than gold leaf as they are just as effective but there are no messy glues and varnishes to contend with). I would also use them in a very, very, dilute form mixed with my watercolour paint to add sparkle to skies and water in my more traditional watercolours. Have a play and see how you get on.

To enjoy more paintings by Jane and for details of her classes and workshops visit

    Jane’s Top Tips

  1. I suggest mixing the Bronzes in an old palette or recycled plastic pots as they are very difficult to wash away once set.
  2. I wouldn’t use my best watercolour brushes to apply them either.

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