WATERCOLOUR artist Jane Austin brought multiple prints of frost scenes so that each member of Keighley Art Club could easily follow her instructions.

She took the photos herself on the tops at Halifax, where her studio is based. We were assured that each person would learn at least one new thing during the evening.

Unusually, Jane painted with a paper placed flat on the table and not on an easel. She only paints in watercolours and with a limited number of colours. Two techniques were evident in producing her work. The first was that a very detailed outline drawing is made, and the second is that she uses lots of lemon masking fluid which prevents seepage of paint to unwanted areas.

We saw Jane use a brush we had not seen before. This squirrel bristle brush was shaped to be curved at the top. Jane’s paper was Bockingford 250lb cut down from large pieces of a cotton-based “pressed” paper with a rough surface, which does not bend easily and takes masking fluid well.

Jane likes to produce realistic paintings, but also likes to see what the watercolour runs provide, with many layers added. She prefers Cotman’s quality paints rather artists’ quality paints, and she begins with warm, lighter colours. Jane works on the entire page with the same colour or its tone, rather than finishing one section and moving to another.

She finds that as the paint dries naturally it creates a granulation effect, by some colours sinking further into the rough pitted paper. If the smooth side of the paper is used the masking the fluid tends to sink into it and no granulation appears.

Masking is not painted until paint is dry, and the fluid is applied with anything other than a brush. So Jane uses sticks, large feathers, a calligraphy pen, the herb rosemary, or a palette knife to dip into the fluid and create a tonal effect on the next layer.

Sometimes Jane will dab paint on with cling film for woodland scenes or foam on waves. A white plate is used to mix outwardly placed paint which is dragged to the centre, and in a rough mix, to create a variegated effect on paper. Colours also mixed on the paper, not always on a palette.

Sprinkling salt from a height and allowing it to dry produces tiny white gaps and works best with colours that granulate. A similar effect comes from spraying clean water, and this can create interesting cauliflower type edges.

Jane finds that spraying small sections prevents the paper cockling. When dry, more spray can be added, to make previous layers run. The oval mop brush holds more water paint at the base, and several members of the art club ordered this brush.

A fine brush is used for trees, and lifting out excess dry paint is done with a small flat brush, so only one stroke is needed.

Scratching out or sandpaper can be used, but this can damage the paper.