I had the good fortune to host a watercolor lesson at Stoneway Crossfit as one of their community building ladies’ potluck and sip nights on December 6th. And if Success = fun + learning – I’m confident this night was successful.
This was my very first attempt at teaching others some painting techniques and definitely a challenge for someone that largely paints intuitively. But with over a dozen years of experience teaching I could hardly plead that I didn’t have the skills to tackle it. And I’ve always loved teaching, so why not?
To begin with the supplies we used:
- Arches 140lb 100% watercolor paper mounted on 11″ x 14″ panels. The best watercolor paper is necessary for success and to really experience the full characteristics of painting with watercolor!
- Winsor and Newton Student Grade watercolors: Cadmium Yellow Hue, Ultramarine and Cadmium Red Deep Hue
- daVinci #6 round, #2 round (and a #4 flat that we didn’t use) synthetic brushes. These are stiff brushes that are easy on beginner hands, but need a bit of water massaging to loosen up. I recommend getting familiar with only one or two brushes in the beginning.
- Q-Tips and cotton pads for dabbing up water and pulling up mistakes.
- Jars of water
- Strips of paper for testing the paint before painting
- Wash cloths for cleaning off the brushes.
Because this was a crossfit night, I was asked to teach a crossfit theme and used my Lady of Power, the Overhead Squat, as a template.
I used tracing paper to trace the basic composition for the class and this allowed me to focus the course on techniques of watercolor.
This exercise allowed us to walk through some very basic techniques circle by circle, letting everyone build skills. Then we combined skills to create more advanced effects. We were able to cover:
- Wet on dry washes
- Wet on wet techniques
- mixing colors in the palette
- layering colors on the paper
- using gravity to paint
- planning painting
- fixing mistakes
- combining wet and dry techniques to create shading
By the time we worked on the final shape, the difference in confidence and technique was apparent as everyone tackled the nuances of shading.
Some lessons I learned:
- Show how to fix mistakes first to build confidence in painting from the beginning.
- Beginners like lots of guidance, they want step by step and examples.
- A end goal and final picture kept everyone focused and motivated.
- Focus on less for quality in the final product. These students want something they can hold up and be proud of creating.
- Repetition is always good.
- Get permission to post pictures of people on my blog!
Overall, the night was fun, satisfying, challenging and a learning experience for everyone.
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