The Cheat Sheet - Watercolor Painting Basics

teaching watercolor in Papua New Guinea, 2006

When I teach a beginner watercolor class, I focus on technique. Far easier for a student to develop their own style if they know how to achieve different effects in watercolor and are comfortable utilizing different techniques.

The first class is all about the "cheat sheet." I wish I had had one when I was starting out as a painter - some kind of guide to what my options were and a visual reminder of how to create them. I walk my students through the main techniques of watercolor; wet-in-wet, drybrush, flat washes, gradated washes, soft and hard edges. They do each step on a sheet of 8"x10" watercolor paper, trying out the different colors in their palettes, and labelling each step with a water-resistant ink pen. We try out different brushes, and if there's time, we experiment with spatter, salt and masking fluid. My demonstration page here explains the techniques I rely on and teach to my students.

When the cheat sheet is done, they have a visual reminder of the variety of approaches to use in watercolor, a bit of a lecture from me on what each technique works best for, and an idea of what techniques they gravitate toward in their own painting style.

Want me to teach watercolor in your area? I love to travel!

ArtAngela Fehr1 Comment