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.


Celia Blanco said...

Excellent post, I'm so jealous of your book collection! Thank you for sharing this valuable information, Shirley Trevena has amazing work and I was not familiar with her before. I would gladly sign up with one of your workshops!

Carol Blackburn said...

Beautifully said. Thanks for the kick in the pants. Now I'm off to the studio. :)

Sue Price said...

Hi Roseann,
I've never left a comment on your blog before, but look in often as I like your style very much. I also love Charles Reid and Shirley Trevena and have many, mnay books and dvds. I agree with your comments on learning about watercolours.
Last year I attended a workshop of Jean Haines in Hampshire (England) it was the best painting day I've ever had. She is so enthusiastic about watercolour and so generous with her help. I guess it's unlikely that you've heard of her, but she is very popular in the US and will be holding workshops in Texas this year. Her website is where you'll find more info and links to her blog. I know Texas is a large State and the venues may be too far for you, but possibly worth looking into.
All the best with your painting.

Jane said...

Thank you for the great info RoseAnn! I'm also jealous of your DVD collection...Your watercolors are awesome, and you are so inspirational. Thank you!

Anonymous said...

I agree with everything. Workshops are wonderful and I'm ready to do one too. Taos is full of artist, but I have to do more research on who I would want to learn from. Another great idea and I think it's free is to join a group like plein air where you just find out the rules and join in the fun.
peace n abundance,
ps I do disagree about watercolours being difficult. I think it is the easiest thing I think I've ever done. Just add water and enjoy
I sure hope I can get your captica thingy to work? nope number two times trying

Run Lori Run said...

Great post, glad I found your blog!

Jacqueline Newbold said...

We are a lot alike! I have both of Shirley's DVDs and several books, Charles Reid too. Your library looks so familiar! I love my books.

Caitlin Drummond said...

Thanks for your advice and blog. Admire your work.

I highly recommend, because you can watch videos as often as you want. The selection of watercolor videos is excellent. You can subscribe to different media and for different periods of time. This is from a viewer & new-to-watercolor artist.

I especially like Anne Abgott's videos and her book.

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