Newbies Watercolour

Lesson #1 - An introduction to watercolour and the elements of design

 Lesson #1 set up

Lesson #1 set up

  1. A fresh sheet of Arches 140LB Cold Press watercolour paper stretched onto quarter inch plywood board with brown gummed tape.
  2. Photocopy of original design drawn with a sharpie. This can be traced onto the prepared watercolour paper with a hard 2h pencil and carbon transfer paper.
  3. Leave a small strip of blank paper for testing marks, colour and tonal value.
  4. Sketchbook for keeping written and visual notes.
  5. Thumbnail colour sketch. If you figure out your colour palette on a small scale and it works visually, the chances are it will translate successfully on a larger scale.
  6. A wad of folded kitchen towel is useful for wiping excess water from your brush and drying the brush as you clean it in water.
  7. Palette can be anything from a white ceramic plate, a white butcher's tray or 2nd hand appie dishes like this one. Just so long as you have nice wide spaces to mix washes!
  8. Your small painting exercise 9"x13"


Painting exercise #1 - Anvil Island evening. 

Even though this little painting looks simple, each of the 5 ELEMENTS of design play an important role and each has been carefully thought through and used with a purpose. The 5 ELEMENTS of Design are: Line, Shape, Colour, Tone and Texture


 Lesson #1 Anvil Island evening

Lesson #1 Anvil Island evening

1. Line can also mean the edges that define shapes.

2. Notice the proportion of Shapes for sky, water and Islands.

3. Tonal values create contrast and the illusion of depth and distance. Our focal point might be where the darkest shapes meet the lightest.

4. Colour temperature is used here to reinforce the illusion of depth and distance. Cool colours (blues) tend to recede while warm colours (reds) tend to advance.

5. Texture is created here by lightly brushing with the side of a dry-ish brush to give a sparkle to the water.

In this painting exercise we practised:

1. Choosing a limited palette - Pthalo blue, Scarlet lake and Paynes grey

2. Laying a graded wash using Pthalo blue and Scarlet lake for the sky

3. Laying in progressively darker, richer washes from background to foreground

4. mixing warm and cool colours to achieve a sense of depth and distance

5. Introducing a textural passage by using dry brush, creating a sparkle to the water.


And here is the design if you feel like having a go at it yourself!

 Intro design

Intro design

Watercolour Evenings #1. Make your Mark!

 Bird #7

Bird #7

What's more exciting than coming face to face with a pristine, fresh, springy sheet of watercolour paper? Honestly, doesn't it get your heart racing? or am I the only one who feels that way? Well what's even MORE exciting, is making the first mark upon it. This is the start of a beautiful relationship between you and your support as you create a new painting.

In the first Watercolour evening, we're going to be testing and learning about different grades of papers and experimenting with a range of paint applicators. It's a misconception these days that watercolours are unstable and fragile. The truth is that by using a good quality watercolour paper and modern lightfast colours, your painting has the potential to out live oils and acrylics on canvas or panel board. It's important to know and feel the differences between the wide range of papers available and to understand which papers respond best to your artistic intentions.

 Watercolour papers

Watercolour papers

Watercolour is arguably the most expressive medium. Your own personal marks become a very distinctive part of the painting and are visible in the finished piece.  Marks can take the form of lines, accents and shapes - they reflect your mood, your subconscious and your intent. This is where the dialogue between you and the medium happens, often resulting in surprising results.  You can use anything - brushes, sponges, bristle, bamboo pens, sticks, blotting papers, etc the sky is the limit!

Once the first mark is made - there's no turning back - your focus becomes completely absorbed by the fluid interaction of mind, water, colour and paper. The whole process demands concentration and focused energy. Once you've made a start, you'll be quickly adding your discoveries to form your own, unique visual vocabulary. Each week we'll focus on a different combination of techniques to practice and experiment with.

We'll start out with sepia and Chinese Ink. Please feel free to bring anything you think will make an interesting mark. The first class is all about breaking the ice and being playful!

See you on Monday.