Hanna-Mae Illustration

Illustrator & eco clothing designer


oil paint

Finding inspiration


I have two ‘go-to’ ways of working, but I find the easiest and most relaxed to be working from a photograph. By working this way you don’t have to worry about changes in light, or changes in position, and are free to re-visit your piece at a pace to suit you.

There are many websites offering royalty-free images (some you pay for, others you don’t) but inspiration for your work can be found in unexpected places. The other week I visited a garden centre, which always offers a huge range of sometimes unusual, stunning flowers and plants. Build yourself a collection of photographs you’ve taken and store them in a file that you can revisit when in need of a quick reference image. This can save huge amounts of time searching for reference images on the internet. My own file has grown over the years and is organised into sections for easy navigation, including ‘plants & flowers’ ‘people’ ‘places’ and more.

Inspired by my recent trip I decided to create a painting that centred around a floral theme, using my favourite variety: the daffodil.

‘I wander’d lonely as a cloud
That floats on high o’er vales and hills,
When all at once I saw a crowd,
A host of golden daffodils,
Beside the lake, beneath the trees
Fluttering and dancing in the breeze.

Continuous as the stars that shine
And twinkle on the milky way,
They stretch’d in never-ending line
Along the margin of a bay:
Ten thousand saw I at a glance
Tossing their heads in sprightly dance.

The waves beside them danced, but they
Out-did the sparkling waves in glee: –
A poet could not but be gay
In such a jocund company!
I gazed – and gazed – but little thought
What wealth the show to me had brought.

For oft, when on my couch I lie
In vacant or in pensive mood,
They flash upon that inward eye
Which is the bliss of solitude;
And then my heart with pleasure fills
And dances with the daffodils.’

Williams Wordsworth, 1802



Five fabulous florals to check out (click title to open new window):

The Last Flowers by TanyaShatseva

Alice and the Flowers by thedancingemu

When Flowers Dream by Puimun

Withered Flowers Illustration by Urielstempest

Watercolor Flower 4 by faegirlmara



via Daily Prompt: Paint

Like art tutorials? Follow my blog for a monthly ‘how-to’. You can discover more lessons in ‘Accurate drawing for beginners‘ and ‘Painting clouds with oil paints‘.


‘The Magic Forest’ Hanna-Mae Williams


Welcome to August’s tutorial! This month I’ll be showing you how to paint background trees using water-mixable (or regular if you prefer) oil paints.

You will need:

  • Oil paints in various shades of brown  (I used burnt sienna, raw umber, and burnt umber) white, yellow ochre, crimson, and sap green
  • Liquin original
  • paint brushes (including one flat)
  • paper or canvas suitable for oil paints
  • paint brush cleaner
  • paint palette



Step 1


Mix burnt sienna, some burnt umber, and a small amount of Liquin to get a medium brown.

Step 2


Paint a general tree shape – straight and flaring slightly at the bottom. Don’t be afraid to apply the paint thickly, this will add to the texture we’re looking for (see picture below). This is also why it’s important not to over-do the liquin – you need only enough to slightly lubricate the paint but retain the thickness.


Step 3


Tidy up the edges of your tree using a smaller brush, but don’t be too worried about lumps and bumps. Real trees are never perfectly straight! Again, don’t be afraid to add quite a lot to your brush (see below) this will help with texture.


Step 4

tt Collage3

Now we’ll be using the flat brush to add white (zinc white is less intense than titanium white, which is preferable right now as we want the white to blend a bit with the brown). Use a dry brush (no thinners etc from now on) and lightly dab on the left of the tree and drag across. Do this all the way down your tree.


Step 5


With a small, clean brush loaded with white, now’s the time to add the real highlights. Dab white (avoiding merging with the brown) over the marks you’ve already made.

Step 6


Using your darkest brown (raw umber) and using a clean, dry brush, dab this colour near the roots, up the left, and between the gaps all the way up your tree. Don’t worry too much about colours merging.


Step 7


Now’s the time to use the more interesting colours. It may seem a little unusual, but if you truly observe nature you’ll notice the unexpected variety of colours! Using the same brush as in step 6, take a small amount of ochre and dab lightly up the right side of the tree, towards the centre (see below). Unlike with the browns, a more light-handed approach is needed with these more vibrant colours. The aim is to make them blend in naturally, rather than to stand out.  


Step 8


Dab the crimson around the root area and up the left hand side of the tree, partly covering some of the darker areas. You just want to give a hint of red.

Step 9


As with the crimson, the green should be subtle. Think of where you would find moss growing on a tree and lightly dab these areas.

And there you have it – how to paint background trees using oils!


Having trouble getting your brushes fully clean? No problem, read my review on the best brush cleaners out there! Monthly Review – Paintbrush cleaners

Painting Clouds with oil paints – tutorial

Welcome to my first monthly tutorial! In this post I’ll be showing you how to use water-mixable oil paints to create realistic clouds.

I love using water-mixable oil paints in my work as they’re so wonderfully versatile! I began experimenting with normal oil paints 7 years ago and was somewhat put off by the stubborn nature of the paint – the never quite clean brushes, the lengthy drying time. Then I discovered Reeves water-mixable oils. If you’re on a tight (or student) budget, I can recommend Reeves as a fantastic affordable alternative to the bigger names, such as Winsor & Newton, though I tend to use both as Winsor and Newton offer the benefit of being able to pick individual specific colours, whilst you’ll usually find Reeves in a set. Use Reeves as a ‘starter’ and Winsor & Newton to build on this.

The set is available in The Range and can be found on their website.

Here are some examples of where I’ve used the following technique in my work:

Above: ‘Moo Shoe’ water-mixable oils. Below: ‘Rush Hour’ Water-mixable oils & gouache. Hanna-Mae Williams

Here’s how to do it:

You will need:

  • Water-mixable oil paints in: Lamp black, yellow ochre, burnt umber, raw umber & white
  • Liquin original (available at most art supply stores such as The Range, Hobby Craft etc)
  • Paint brushes
  • Optional: liquid clear oil paint





You need a base. This technique is all about building up layers. Begin by mixing some white with a little black and add liquin and liquid clear until the mixture is quite loose (oils are usually quite stiff and thick) In this instance we’re making a grey base but once you get the hang of the technique you can alter this. I sometimes use blue.



Cover your area with your base colour, then add some more black to create a darker tone. Roughly paint the outline of a cloud. You’re going to repeat this shape over your piece.




You need to add depth to your clouds and now’s the time to stop using liquin. Using a circular dabbing motion, blend some black into the grey of your clouds around the bottom/edges, and introduce some umber.



Remember this is all about layering. To add dimension we’ll be adding to the background/foreground as we progress.



If you look at storm clouds they often have a yellowish tinge to them. This is where the yellow ochre comes in. You only need a hint, so dab and blend around the bottom of the cloud/where the clouds meet.



It’s time to add white. Using a smaller brush, dab and slightly blend around the tops of the more prominent clouds.



Continue working through the steps until you have the amount of clouds you want. You can use your finger to slightly smudge the clouds – particularly to make the typical ‘cloud’ shape less defined.



Now make cleaning up easy! Choose the right brush cleaner by reading this review.



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