Why teacups are special: An opportunity for lots of watercolour magic

May 12, 2023 | 8 Comments

Since starting this series – Why Teacups are Special – I’ve been hanging out to share this particular article with you… and it’s all to do with my love of the unpredictable nature of watercolour!

I’ve learned so much about watercolour over the years as I’ve regularly sketched my teacups. They have allowed me to take risks and experiment with a lot of daring wet-on-wet techniques.

And I’ve learnt a very important principle: Let the pigments settle naturally!

I can’t tell you how many times I have thought that I’d ruined a teacup sketch and totally lost control of the wetness of the washes on my page. But nearly every time, if I just leave the sketch alone and let it dry, the result will be magical.

The above sketch was done during a demo at the Urban Sketchers Symposium in Chicago and is a good example of thinking to myself mid-sketch ‘This is a bit of a mess’. But once it was dry, I loved the result – many fun things happened in this sketch which would be difficult if not impossible to do by design. 🙂

The complex patterns and colour combinations are a big reason why so much watercolour magic can occur but even sketches of plain cups – such as my new Lavender cup by LyndalT – can surprise me with effects I didn’t expect.

What more can I say?


Here are a few close-ups of some of the sketches I’ve shared in recent weeks and show a range of different kinds of watercolour magic.


The Teacups Course is now open for enrollment – and available as a self-paced course!

Find out more and enroll here!



  • Maria Bergman says:

    Yayyyy!! Can’t wait!!

  • Hi Liz, Not specifically about teacups – after you apply watercolour pencil to a sketch, do you activate it (with water) first before you apply watercolour paint or do you just let the watercolour activate and blend with the wc pencil?

  • Susan Court says:

    Hi Liz, I am so looking forward to the Teacup course and using all that colour. The articles you’ve been posting as ‘teasers’ and sharing your process are extremely helpful. Love the pigment play. I’ve enjoyed looking out all the great aunt’s and mother-in-law’s tea cups. Each with a special story. I had to restrain myself in T2 yesterday. But I might go back!!

  • Jamie C says:

    I always love the explosions and blooms that can come from wildly watery work. Gorgeous! My impatience means I get them a lot! Good thing I like them!

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