Waterfalls: A Loose Watercolour Approach

with Doug Mays, CSPWC

An ONLINE watercolour demonstration streamed live on Zoom

November 18, 2023, 1 pm Eastern

CSPWC Members and Associates $20, Non-members $25

Become an Associate today, click here.

Does painting water seem tough? Do you look at the rushing torrent of a waterfall and think “How on earth do I paint that?” Let us help you, by bringing you a watercolour demonstration from a master of waterfalls. Doug Mays has specialized in painting rushing, thundering water for years. Here is a collage that is just a sampling of his water paintings:

Grid of watercolour paintings of waterfalls

How better to show the splashing energy of a waterfall than with transparent watercolour? Let Doug show you how he uses loose brushwork and the flow of the paint to create the energetic sense of water running over rocks. This transparent medium gives us painters the ability to layer shapes and colours. As the result will be a painting with an endless variety of hues, chroma (saturation) and tonal values.

Effective watercolours capture the viewers’ attention with their overall freshness. This is one of Doug’s guiding principles in making his paintings.

In this workshop you’ll learn how Doug uses five pigment-to-water consistencies from very thin to very thick that allows him to build his painting in layers in three stages:

    1 – The Loose Wash Stage

    2 – The Definition Stage

    3 –  The Detail/Accent Stage

Doug uses a tonal value scale (below)  from 1 to 9 in which 1 = white, 9 = black

 and 5 = mid gray.

Grey scale showing values from white to black

This demonstration will feature a strong, cascading waterfall which is one of Doug’s favourite themes. Waterfalls fulfill two aspects that he enjoys showcasing – (1) a dynamic design that suggests power and energy and (2) a discipline that he feels is vital in his watercolours and that is – ‘to save the white of the paper’.

Doug firmly believes the white areas of the paper are important shapes that lead to fresh watercolours with sparkle.

 His painting style tends to use the extreme range of tonal values from white to black but subscribes to a ‘less is more’ approach and he encourages his students to use a big brush for the lion’s share of the brushwork. This allows his painting to morph from a very abstract beginning to an impressionistic (representational) finish.

Sign up now so you don’t miss out on this great event! We will send you reminders two days before and the day of.

(Note to members and associates: please proceed to the second page of the checkout to enter your promo code. Didn’t get a promo code? Email education@cspwc.ca for help.)

Poppy to update widget

A recording of the demonstration will be available only for paid ticket-holders to review at their leisure, up until January 20, 2024. You must buy your ticket in advance of the demonstration to be able to access the recording.

Please note this demonstration starts at 1:00 pm Eastern time and will run for approximately 2 hours.  If you live in another time zone, please adjust your time accordingly. 

Equipment needed for the workshop:

Download Doug’s full materials list by clicking HERE.

You will need a robust internet connection to watch this demonstration.

About Doug Mays, CSPWC,

Artist Doug Mays holding a painting of a river

After studying art through high school, Doug went on to college where he applied his passion for art & architecture culminating in graduation in 1971 in Architectural Technology. For the next 30 years he enjoyed a successful business career in the Hamilton, Ontario area until early retirement in 2002. Throughout his business career he had the good fortune to study with several well-known Canadian and American watercolourists, which laid the groundwork for his second and current career as a watercolour artist and instructor.

Painting Approach

Doug’s painting approach is uniquely ‘loose and impressionistic’ and he readily admits being influenced early on by the colour and compositions of John Singer Sargent and the design philosophy of Edgar Whitney. Today he follows a Whitney-like instructional style for his workshops with proven results. His daily demonstrations, lessons and critiques utilize the design elements and the principles of design, all of which form the basis for his workshops.

Doug is an elected member of the prestigious Canadian Society of Painters in Water Colour (CSPWC) and he is a Past-President of the Central Ontario Art Association (COAA). His enthusiasm for the watercolour medium along with his pragmatic and light-hearted approach all lead to an stress-free and enjoyable experience. With ‘spontaneity’ being the hallmark of Doug’s watercolour workshops, he finds his distinctive coaching style sends people home at the end of the day ‘tired but inspired’.


This award winning artist has established himself as a popular and much sought after watercolour artist and instructor and the following testimonials are indicative of the quality of his watercolour workshops:

  • “After meeting Doug in August, 2002 and being totally inspired by his loose, fresh watercolours, I was anxious to sign up for his classes”
  • “To watch Doug paint is to be totally captivated by his love of his craft and his joy in each of his successful outcomes”
  • “He is both an accomplished watercolourist and a personable & effective instructor. I look forward to taking future classes with Doug”

Here are more of Doug’s stunning watercolours. Sign up now, don’t miss out!

watercolour by Doug Mays, CSPWC

Look how many waterfalls Doug has painted over the years (and this is just a few)!! Who better to lead us in this demonstration?

Composite image made of many photos of waterfall paintings