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Watercolour cactus on Canson Héritage with Alain Poncelet

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  • Paper : Canson Héritage - Rough
  • Pencils : Lyra Polycolor
  • Paint : Aquarelle Maimerie Blu / Acrylique Daler Rowney (yellow)
  • Brushes : for watercolour Daler Rowney Aquafine (pointed Wash 4) / for the buds Princeton Catalyst Polytip Bristle (round 2)  / for the spines Princeton Imperial (round 0) 

Alain's advice

"You have to take a fun approach to this exercise, and enjoy it without constraints. Choose the right materials (the right grain of paper, the right kind of brush, etc.) and focus fully when you're doing the pencil drawing. Once you've finished the outline, you can now let yourself go and breathe some life into it using your watercolours."


  • I used a Canson Héritage rough grain paper. It gives you a lovely structure with both watercolours and pencils (black (Lyra Polycolor).
  • Once I finished the outline, I added some pencil shading already, adjusting the pencil pressure to get different shades of grey.
  • When it came to the watercolours, I limited myself to two layers on dry paper. Even though there are lovely ranges of watercolour greens available, I still like making my own using yellow and blue and adding green after if necessary. For this particular picture, I added some beige to give it a slightly earthier colour.
  • Once the second layer (darker shading) was dry, I added a couple of touches of Naples Yellow acrylic for the cactus' "buds".