Wednesday, January 30, 2013

How to Learn About Watercolors

Several nice people have asked me if I have made any tutorials or given any workshops.  That is so flattering, but I’ve never done that because I still consider myself a watercolor student. I have so much to learn, and the more I work, the more I feel like a beginner. But I could talk about the things that have helped me the most, so far.

The best written watercolor information resource I’ve ever found is Bruce MacEvoy’s “Handprint” site.  It’s absolutely amazing, and all watercolorists should spend a lot of time there. I especially love the section about pigments.  Then there are the published watercolor books. I must have at least 50 of them. My favorites are those written by Charles Reid and Shirley Trevena. I learn from all of them, but reading about watercolor is not nearly as helpful as watching someone painting watercolors.

The best way to watch watercolor artists paint is to watch videos.  I’m so grateful for painting DVDs. My favorites are:  “Painting Flowers in Watercolor”, “Watercolor Solutions” and “Flowers in Watercolor” by Charles Reid; “Expressive Watercolor Portraits” by Janet Rogers; “Breaking the Rules of Watercolor” and “Taking Risks with Watercolor” by Shirley Trevena; and “Light Effects in Watercolor” by David Curtis.  DVDs are expensive, but you can re-sell them, and I believe there are places online where you can rent them. In addition to DVDs, there are lots of watercolor video demos on YouTube, and Cheap Joe’s Art Supply has some very good videos on YouTube, too.  More and more artists are making their own tutorials, as well.

The very best way to watch artists at work would be to enroll in classes and workshops.  It’s awfully hard to find a good watercolor teacher in most areas, but more and more watercolorists are offering workshops around the country. You do have to travel, and they are expensive.  Over the years, I was lucky enough to find two excellent watercolorists who gave lessons in my general area. I still have never been to a workshop, but now that I’m retired from my job I’m looking for a watercolor workshop to attend in Texas. Can’t wait to have that experience.

Even when you’ve taken advantage of all the resources mentioned above, you can’t really make progress unless you practice and practice and practice. You have to throw away a ton of mistakes; that’s just a part of it. It’s the solitary part, where you paint into the night by yourself, with lots of failures – that’s where you learn the most.  Everyone says watercolor is the most difficult medium. I believe it.
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