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Watercolor 101: Part Five

Watercolor 101: Part Five

May 28, 2020

Here I am at the end of my journey through the course Watercolor 101 from Universal Class! Here are my key takeaways:

  • Probably the most important lesson you will learn from this class is the value of planning out what you want to paint. Sure, you could just start a painting by throwing down some paint on a piece of paper, but you may wind up unsatisfied with the result. Even the great masters sketch out what they want to do beforehand. So, even if you are making small thumbnail size pictures, or just putting down some general pencil lines first, start by deciding what will go where.
  • The next thing you want to keep in mind is the value of the water you use while painting. You might think this is a small thing, but it is huge. When you rinse off your brush, it will pick up the muddy color of the dirty water. Then, when you try to paint with a brush that’s wet from that dirty water, it will mix with your paint and become a different color from the one you’re trying to use. How can you fix this problem?
    • First, use a larger jar or bowl that will hold more water, so that you can extend its usefulness, and second, have another jar of clean/clear water waiting. So, you have your rinse jar to wash away the old colors, and before you grab another color, you will dip your paint brush in the clear water, so that it’s as clean as can be. This goes a long way in keeping your colors bright.
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  • Finally, don’t be afraid to try new things! If you find yourself painting a lot of flowers, try painting some rocks instead. Or, if your favorite subjects are dogs, try painting fish. Step outside your comfort zone to really stretch your abilities. You never know what you have a talent for until you try!

Even though the class is over, this is not the end of my watercolor adventure. There are still many resources I want to make use of. Here are a few that recently caught my eye:

  • The Art of Urban Sketching by Gabriel Campanario – Do you ever feel like you just need to get out of the house for inspiration? In The Art of Urban Sketching, you will learn the basics of taking inspiration from the cityscape around you. You will also learn how to paint on the go and the most essential tools for painting outside.
  • Painting Vibrant Watercolors by Soon Y. Warren – Like most watercolor instruction books, you will get a solid foundation of the basics first, but you’ll also gain some additional tips on how to really make the colors in your paintings pop! This book teaches you the value of using light to your advantage.
  • The Sketchbook Challenge by Sue Bleiweiss – You might be thinking to yourself, “A sketchbook? For watercolors?” Absolutely. Remember what I said about the value of planning out your paintings beforehand? Keeping a watercolor sketchbook of your ideas is the perfect place to plan out your larger pieces. The Sketchbook Challenge can help you get your ideas down on paper when you’re thinking to yourself, “Well, what should I paint?”

It's hard to believe that the class is over! Watercolor 101 from Universal Class was a fun course that I would recommend for anyone who is interested in learning more about the medium. Not only that, in these stay-at-home times, I’ve found it to be an incredibly relaxing way to spend some time.

Happy painting!

Barbara W.
Electronic Resources Department

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