Friday, November 03, 2023

Watercolor Basics

Our new Art Class for Grownups decided, as a group, to dabble in watercolor. Their goal was to learn enough watercolor basics for a few experimental paintings,  eventually leading to some successful works of art.

Watercolors are a simple, yet complex medium.  Unlike acrylic or oil paints, our earliest painting experience often begins with a set of pan watercolors. We quickly learn to moisten the paint with the accompanying brush and paint the colors all over the page. Just about every child has created a wrinkled watercolor painting of a house, a tree, and a smiling sun. Watercolor is a simple, uninhibited, satisfying medium for young artists. 

So it's no surprise that older artists are often surprised to learn how versatile watercolors can be! I have found that creating watercolor Technique Sheets is a great way to experiment with watercolor. The best way to do this is to divide a sheet of 9" x 12" 90 lb. student grade watercolor paper into eight sections on a watercolor board using masking tape. We use narrow masking tape that extends beyond the paper edges onto the board (to hold it down). Then a different watercolor technique is used to fill in each section. I demonstrate each as we go, until students learn to experiment and create their own. 

Once a Technique Sheet is completed and dried, the technique name(s) can be printed, cut out, and glued to each appropriate section and another sheet started. These sheets can then be saved and used as references for future watercolor painting projects. 

You can download our label sheet to use for your own Watercolor Technique sheets. Note that artists can pick and choose the techniques they want to try, and may use more than one in a given section - such as dry brush and sketching or flat wash and bloom (which often happens simultaneously). 

Click on the image below for a printable version. Then you can make your own Watercolor Technique Sheets!

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