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Watercolor Painting Lessons For Beginners
Creating Winners

If we listened to our intellect, we’d never have a love affair. We’d never have a friendship. Well, that’s nonsense. You’ve got to jump off cliffs and build your wings on the way down. (Annie Dillard)
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Welcome to your watercolor adventure.

This school is designed to put you on the shortest path towards watercolor competency. It is also designed to guide you on one of the great journeys of your life; the study of your own mind. (More on this)

Art supplies

If your budget allows, you can just buy everything on my teacher's list. It's quick and easy. Just check off one of everything. You will have an inexpensive, yet “Professional” quality rig. Here is the link. (You will still want a sheet of something as a paper support and  clips to keep it in place.)

 

The biggest obstacle to most beginners is the cost of materials. You must not care how the painting comes out. If you are tense about ruining it because of the cost of materials, you will ruin it. How big you paint matters a lot. Small paintings use smaller brushes, smaller paper and less paint.  Small paintings take less time. The cost of the paper and paint must be les than you care about. The time it takes to paint it, must be less than you will miss.

 

I know you want to get onto painting, and that it's boring to take lessons on materials. Nevertheless, I do have a section with six such lessons. In the long run, you'll be better off to take them.

 

AND THEN

Take my first beginner lesson “Coloring Book”. In less than an hour you will be competent to start watercolor painting.

 

AND FINALLY

You're going to need some experience before you can make great paintings. I advise that you do not agonize over your first efforts. Paint them small, paint them quickly, enjoy doing them. Little children think they are playing. We know that they are in the deadly serious business of learning how to deal with the world. Take a lesson from little children. Play with your paints. It's the fastest route to achieving real art. And By the way, do not throw these first efforts out; even if you hate them. You may hate them now, but years from now, you may be quite proud of them.

“A journey of a thousand miles must begin with a single step.”   Lao Tzu

SADLY

There is an awfully lot of bad advice being given out under the guise of watercolor lessons. If someone tells you to tape your paper to a support, (It's counterproductive.) run away. if someone is showing you shortcuts to nowhere, such as salt, alcohol, crayons and the like, take a hike. It is not that these gimmicks don't work. It's just that they are a distraction rather than a valuable learning experience. Gimmicks are great when you are so good you don't need them.

 

"You can't connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future." (Steve Jobs)

LESSONS ON PAINTING
Beginner

Beginner watercolor painting A First Watercolor Lesson. It's about paint handling, and "value"
Here is a simple “coloring book” exercise which will equip you to dig into your first painting.
You will learn how to make a “wash”, and how to adjust the “value” (the relative difference between dark and light) of your wash.

Drawings of trees. Painting Trees – Part 1
You need to get a “handle” on trees. They are fairly easy if you know how to approach the task.
Tree color is also, an issue. In reality, I paint trees in any color I feel like at the moment, but the beginner is going to want at least a little credibility. You need to know how to get the right kinds of greens. And greens can also mean reds or blues or yellows when it comes to trees. This lesson is full of tips and tricks for watercolor painting of trees.

A watercolor painted tree Painting Trees – Part 2
It’s good to know how to approach painting a tree, but that’s not enough. Part 2 is a demonstration of how I do it, at least at the beginner level.
You will see how to paint in the leafy areas and then how to handle the trunk, branches and twigs.
We will examine “Sky holes”, and the general “look” of a realistic tree painting.

Wet piece of watercolor paper. Preparing paper for wet in wet painting
It sounds easy, but you gotta do it right.
it is easy, but its not intuitive and the lesson is really short. Give it a watch unless you are very confident in your wet in wet watercolor technique.


Watercolor painting of a small barn. A small barn makes a nice beginner landscape painting
In this simple yet far ranging painting will cover the beginnings of perspective drawing. You will become conscious of light sources and the shadows that result from them. There will be some easy, yet sophisticated concepts, introduced. These include implied edges, and massing objects to solidify composition. Its also the first lesson which I am truly happy with. ( That does not mean that I don't see flaws sticking out like mad. )

Watercolor painting demonstrating painting skies. How To Paint DawnNew York and Sunset Skies - Sunrise / Sunset - Part 1 - Skies with multi hues.
These skies need to be smooth yet are very interesting. Here we paint a sunrise with an orange red horizon fusing smoothly into a blue green sky. We are after convincing the viewer that they are looking at what might be a photograph. The sky is not the focus of the painting, rather the backdrop for a seascape, landscape. The mid ground is the actual subject but it is subtle, so it needs a dramatic frame to focus the eye. That is supplied by the intense value of the foreground.

Watercolor painting demonstrating painting islands both far and near. How To Paint Water and Islands - Sunrise / Sunset - Part 2?
Poetically speaking, these are islands in the sky. In reality the are the props for the subject,which is my favorite lighthouse. There is Fire Island off in the distance, and two other islands with the "snake hill channel" between them forming the dramatic foreground. Ya gatta love the drama in this painting and its all done with a few simple elements. The trick is the intense value and color contrasts

Watercolor painting demonstrating how to paint a lighthouse by either lifting or masking. Lifting and Painting The Lighthouse - Sunrise / Sunset - Part 3 - Lifting out the lighthouse.
Here we see one of the many techniques used for lifting watercolor paint. Even though the background sky is painted with a richly staining paint, we can lift enough of the paint to give the impression of a white lighthouse. This is a real scene, and this is a real lighthouse. it is Fire Island Light. It is part of my everyday world, and you can probably feel my reverence for the place.

Watercolor painting showing aspen trees in the snow with a forest in the background. Aspens – A snowscape.
The basis of this lesson is scraping away wet paint. It’s an important watercolor technique. In this case we will create a forest with very little effort.
The forest is the background for a double trunk tree surrounded by snow. Snow is a challenge to paint until you know how. Shadow and color is the basis of convincing snow.

Picture of a blue sky woth white clouds and birds.Skies -Smooth and Blue - Blue Realistic Skies With Birds And Light Fluffy Clouds
This anything but simple lesson demonstrates how to paint realistic skies. We cover smooth graded washes, lifting clouds out of the background, and painting birds into it. We can use clouds and birds as design elements or to cover blemishes in the otherwise perfect sky. We are going to use our sky to paint a with a wet in wet marsh.
Then we will finish off the painting with a lesson on white. That's right, white watercolor. We will use it if wee need to to accentuate our clouds.

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