Monday, June 17, 2019

A fun way with Watercolors

Watercolor is a hard medium to learn. But it's the most popular. A lot of first-time art students will sign up for a class in watercolor. I remember before I took any classes and was just experimenting, I bought a set of cheap watercolors and a book on how to make watercolor cards. What an utter disaster.

It's all about good materials
First of all, I didn't learn until much later that it's imperative to use good watercolors made with an ample amount of pigment. If not, your colors will most likely be muted, hard to work with and just a big disappointment. So go with the best products, such as

Using Crayola or Prang, while good for children, are substandard for fine arts.

Secondly, I learned to use good paper. As I've described in other posts on this blog, there is no match for 100% cotton paper, weighing at least 90# or preferably 140#. There is a world of difference in comparison to what I call "wood pulp" paper--cheaper forms of watercolor paper: right weight but no cotton. Here are a few I recommend:

Let's try a new project
Here's a fun way to approach watercolor, which includes a pen too. Instead of drawing a flower with pencil first and then adding pen and watercolor, why not try laying down the main color first and switching the process.

In this sample, I placed a very light wash of pink down on cotton watercolor paper. After letting it dry, I sketched my flower, first with pencil and then with pen. I erased the pencil, then painted another layer of color, leaving some pale spots here and there. While still a bit wet, I added the third layer with a slightly darker shade, creating more value. At the end, I painted the center with appropriate colors.

Here's another one.  Say you don't have time to sketch a full scene, there's a quick way to do it in less than 10 minutes. Lay down a light wash of blue and green, sketch in your picture with pen and add values where appropriate.

I've used these methods a bundle of time and it's so much fun. Yes, I agree, this isn't fine art watercolors. Just another way to play with them. In fact, speaking of playing, what a great activity this is for your kids or grandkids. They'll love the freedom and creativity it spells out for them. Hope you enjoy this technique.

What's Coming Up?
Summer Classes
Further information contact me:

Art of Sketching Begins 7/2 Learning to sketch actually improves your drawing skills; besides it’s amazingly fun. We'll be using pen and ink with watercolor washes. 
Watercolor Pencils
Limited supply list
Every Tuesday morning
10 am to 12:30 pm
$80 per five-week term

The Morning Draw Begins 7/3 We will be exploring a variety of subjects and drawing techniques. 
Watercolor Pencils
Limited supply list.
Every Wednesday morning
10 am to 12:30 pm
$80 per five-week term

Summer Art Workshops
All of our workshops are held at Glastonbury Studios in Tigard from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Cost $90 per person, unless stated differently. Pre-registration is required. To register or for more information, contact me at:

Saturday, June 22
Drawing Cats (closed)

Saturday, July 13
Drawing Fun Bugs
Beetles, butterflies, dragonfly, etc.

Two-Day Workshop
Saturday & Sunday August 3 & 4
"Art Journaling from the Heart"

2020 Sketch'n on the Go!™ Workshops
Mark your calendar.

Every year I take students to different locations. In 2019, it is Ireland. In 2020, we're planning three locations. We are right now in the planning stage, so it would help if you see something you like to drop me a line:

Workshop Tuition
The workshop tuition is $800 per person and covers a week of instruction. Cruise costs, hotel rooms, transportation costs, food, etc. are additional. 

Travel  Agent
For the travel side, I work with Barb Gossack, owner of the Expedia Cruise Ship Centers in Wilsonville (yes a brick and mortar location). For more information on any of these trips, you can contact her at

Here are the preliminary offerings:

Hawaiian cruise around the islands
Norwegian Cruise Line
January 04 - 11, 2020
North to Alaska
Celebrity Cruise Line
September 4-11, 2020

Aix en Provence 
Hotel TBD
May 10-17, 2020

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