Tips for painting BIG in watercolour

My recent Hollyhock painting got lots of attention, much of which was due to the the large scale I painted it at.

And it also led to lots of questions about how to paint at this bigger scale and still get super detailed, realistic results.

It can be easy to assume it requires special equipment and techniques, but in this video I show you that that’s NOT the case – all you need is some bigger paper (or as I used, illustration board – details below).

And I run you through the stages I painted the Hollyhock in:

I hope this inspires you to GO BIG this weekend!

Happy painting,


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  1. Karen on June 8, 2017 at 3:57 pm

    Anna, thank you for the tips for painting big. I wondered though, how did you get your detailed drawing? How did you scale up your drawing?

    • Anna Mason on June 10, 2017 at 8:25 pm

      Hi Karen, these days I have a projector I use (by Artograph) but in the past I just worked out a scale and measured key points in my photo with a ruler, then did my sums and scaled up to my paper. You could use a grid technique also.

  2. Maysoon Aldoori on June 8, 2017 at 5:02 pm

    Hi Anna
    First please accept my heart felt congratulations on the happy event of soon becoming a mum. I hope all goes well with you and the coming baby
    I loved this painting so much and will definitely go big in water colours. I have done so with oils to great success. So many thanks for sharing your work and I look forwards to receiving more

  3. Brenda Clague on June 8, 2017 at 5:16 pm

    Brilliant painting, thanks for explaining how it developed.

  4. Dora Brown on June 8, 2017 at 5:42 pm

    Hi Anna,

    Could you please give more details as to the Illustration Board that you are using? Jackson’s has various.

    Thank you,


    • Anna Mason on June 10, 2017 at 8:22 pm

      The link is on this page in the blog post – it’s the vellum finish one at 20 x 3p inch.

  5. Lilia on June 8, 2017 at 7:07 pm

    That was truly great to watch. The painting is GORGEOUS!!! I’m so glad you got to it and completed it! Thanks ever so much for sharing with us and teaching us to paint in watercolor in a realistic manner.

  6. Rosalie Roscoe on June 8, 2017 at 7:22 pm

    Thank you for sharing. I enjoyed watching the different stages of the Hollyhocks. The colors are beautiful. I do enjoy listening to explain what you have done and why.

  7. Susan Hall on June 8, 2017 at 9:11 pm

    Most inspiring Anna. I hope you are having that well earned break.
    As I’m travelling to the Uk in a few weeks, is your studio. Open to the public at all? It would be great to visit if we are anywhere near your part of the world.

  8. marie on June 8, 2017 at 10:03 pm

    Such a beautiful, detailed painting! Thks for sharing! You have a natural gift for knowing what colours & tones to use in all your paintings!

  9. Elizabeth B on June 8, 2017 at 10:23 pm

    You are truly amazing! Thank you for teaching, I knew I wanted to paint with watercolor..Somehow I did not connect with other techniques. When I saw the detailed way you paint and your willingness to share, while being kind and encouraging….I knew I had found my teacher! Thank you! It means the world to me…

  10. Barbara Harness on June 8, 2017 at 10:31 pm

    Is illustration board just like Hot Press paper?

    • Anna Mason on June 10, 2017 at 8:30 pm

      Yes the surface is very similar but it keeps totally rigid so is great for working larger – no risk of wrinkles!

  11. Celia Foster on June 8, 2017 at 11:27 pm

    You are an amazing watercolor artist. The Hollyhock painting is amazing!

  12. Gabriella Henderson on June 9, 2017 at 9:33 am

    Thank you Anna. I was interested in trying a larger painting. Thanks for the tips.

  13. Mary Ann Russo on June 9, 2017 at 1:01 pm

    Thank you for sharing. Beautiful painting. I’m a huge fan.

  14. Cecilia Garrec on June 9, 2017 at 2:21 pm

    So knowledgeable and ADORABLE! Thanks Anna for all that you do!!!

  15. Christine Drew on June 9, 2017 at 7:30 pm

    Really inspiring, thank you so much for sharing x

  16. Mikaela Spadafora on June 12, 2017 at 1:02 am

    Thanks for sharing Anna! I’ve always wondered how you tackled big subjects so beautifully. Exquisite job, as always:-)

  17. Loretta Breier on June 12, 2017 at 4:36 pm

    Oh my goodness, your hollyhock painting is absolutely, wonderfully, beautiful! What magnificent talent you have!

  18. June Mitchell on June 13, 2017 at 4:06 pm

    Fabulous painting xxx thank you for sharing your technique with large paintings

  19. Cynthia Lane on June 15, 2017 at 2:59 pm

    Amazing, beautiful painting! I am so inspired to paint large using your technique Anna!

  20. Firuse Stalcup on June 15, 2017 at 3:57 pm

    Dear Ann,
    Congratulations on becoming a mum soon. The best gift in the world.
    Thank you for being so generous sharing your talent with us. I am enjoying your book very much.

  21. Luz Eugenia Bacca on July 6, 2017 at 4:11 pm

    Gracias maestra por compartir su talento

  22. Jenn on September 18, 2017 at 7:01 pm

    What an amazing painting! Did you use an easel or just leave the board on a flat surface?

  23. Alisonkeeports on October 6, 2017 at 4:40 am

    I would love to see this flower as a class even in a smaller version. It is absolutely stunning!

  24. Lana Pallenberg on September 22, 2018 at 1:12 am

    Hi Anna,
    Thank you , very informative, one of the best that I have viewed , I am just getting into Watercolours after working with oils many years ago & I found this so very helpful , I wanted to paint on a larger scale , will get onto Dick Blick site and order some illustration board.
    Your painting is so wonderfully detailed and lifelike, unfortunately I do not have that sort of commitment and patience , again thank you so much for making this great blog .
    Kind Regards Lana x

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