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I was really sad to see this class end. The group worked so well together, learning from each other, asking questions, and eager to learn more. They always had assignments done, and often did two paintings.

Exploring Watercolor is the class we offer that gets the artist started with watercolor.

Here are examples of some of the things we do:

Todd Dunn5

Todd Dunn5

The first night is devoted to introducing the different brushes and their uses, the palette and how to set it up. They learn wet-in-wet, wet on dry and dry brushing applications and we talk about how to make convincing and rich  darks by using mixtures of dark colors rather than rushing to neutral tint or just paynes gray and ending up with a flat dark. The above painting shows darks created with mixtures of colors and has evidence of the three different ways to apply watercolor.

Lorri Medaugh5

Lorri Medaugh5

I also ask them to paint a backlit painting the first week. This gets them working with their darks from the beginning. It has been my experience that artists first bridge to cross is getting that contrast between light and dark. In watercolor, many artists fear getting dark too fast. One of my students chose a back-lit photo of hers that she had taken on vacation of a back-lit koi pond. I really liked the abstract quality of this. Note how her darks are washes of several colors mixing together on the paper.

Linda Flatley4  Analagous

Linda Flatley4 Analagous

Beth Akey 4   Complimentary

Beth Akey 4 Complimentary

Alan Pareis5   Primary

Alan Pareis5 Primary

The next week we learned about color and which ones were opaque and which were more transparent. We discussed color combinations and identified them on the color wheel. They all designed their paintings this week to a chosen color combination.

We also began practicing softening an edge and learned the difference between a hard and soft edge.

Alan Pareis2

Alan Pareis2

Lorri Medaugh4

Lorri Medaugh4

The next week was all about trees and how to paint them. We talked about using a liner or rigger to create the tiny branches. We learned how to use a sponge and frisket, about pointillism and scumbling,  dropping salt and splattering; all to create textural effects in our trees. Every painting these students brought in was fresh and new and they all brought their own take to the scene they created.

Susie Covitt5

Susie Covitt5

Todd Dunn4

Todd Dunn4

During the fourth week we painted studies of clouds, skies and water. What fun when they learned about tissue paper and lifting wet paint and swiping with a sponge or making wax resist clouds and frisketed foam on water. They were able to use their skill of softening an edge in these, also. We talked about how to paint reflections in water and how to save the white of  moon or sun and soften around the edges of the sun.

Susie Covitt2

Susie Covitt2

Linda Flatley2

Linda Flatley2

During the fifth week we practiced painting “little people” described before here and here. They learned simple dimensions of the human form, how to allow the colors to run together and how to ground them into the surface they were standing on by running a shadow off of them.

Beth Akey

Beth Akey

The last night of the class, we touched on buildings and how they are man-made shapes clustered together and that they cast shadows. They provide contrast with the surrounding natural forms.

Thank you to all of you who took this class and were willing to share your work, here, on this blog, for others to see. If you would like to see more of their work click here or scroll to the top of this page and click on Student Art: Exploring Watercolor.



  1. Leslie, I am so impressed by the thought and love you put into teaching. It shows in your students’ work, for sure!

  2. Wow, how nice you put this all together for us to see. Thank you! I too am impressed, like Anne. I notice I am learning many of the things your students went over with you – still learning, trying to learn. 🙂

    • You are doing a great job of learning these skills, Sand Salt Moon. Thank you for your comment!

  3. There’s so much life and joy in creating in each of your student’s pictures – something that can easily go out of anyone’s work. It must be a wonderful class to get such results and the koi pond is a perfect picture.

    • Thank you, so much, outsideauthority. You noticed their freedom to explore. They will appreciate that! There is something so umiquely abstract and clean in Lorri’s approach.

  4. I can imagine a teacher’s joy when the students meet expectations and beyond, love the variety and freshness showcased.

    • I was amazed each week they returned with their paintings, Padmaja. Thank you for this comment!

  5. Wonderful work. Thanks for sharing.

  6. Once again your students floored me with their talent. I always enjoy seeing their work. These are all so wonderful. And I’ve said it before but I’ll say it again. I know you are a fantastic teacher.

    • This group floored me, too, Carol! They “ALL” really wanted this thing called watercolor and perused the books I brought into class and took home the “Watercolor Artist” magazines to read and peruse. They took me, literally, that there were all different ways to create and we could only touch on the above skills and the rest would be up to them to continue and grow. They grew leaps and bounds in six short weeks and I hope they all continue on. Thank you for this comment. I think we will see more of these artists’ paintings in the future. I hope. I hope.

  7. You are an awesome teacher!! These are fabulous! You must be proud!

    • Thank you, Isabelle. Oh yes, I am pleased with what each and every one of them create!

  8. It’s no surprise that your students are painting so well – I do appreciate you putting them on your site for us to view.

    • Thank you, June. I am hoping, by posting student art, that it helps us all see that each of us are artists and adding our own special visions to our creations.

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