Learning Watercolour Painting.
Let me be clear up front. I’m not a watercolour painter, I’ve always wanted to be able to do it but never really put in the time needed. Those who have been with us for a while may remember I gave it a bit of a go 2 or 3 years ago, unfortunately that was rather short lived, real life got in the way!
Anyway this is my new start in learning watercolour painting.
Please note that all images on this page are my own paintings. I have only been doing the course for just over a month so please don’t hold them responsible for the quality of the painting!
Well my New Year’s resolution this year was to really put some effort into it and see if I could get to at least a reasonable standard. You will be amazed how difficult I found it to put paint to paper for the very first time so I decided I needed help.
Lessons seemed like the obvious answer but time and geographical issues (and expense) made that difficult. After a fair bit of searching online I found what seemed like a good online course and a reasonable price. In fact there was a month’s free trial and even a free vidoe prior to the trial so plenty of time to see if it was for me or not.
Again I will make clear at this point I have no connection with the site other than signing up to it. This isn’t a paid review, it is just my own honest opinion.
So this is the site I ended up using. Obviously cost played a factor but I didn’t really make up my mind until I had been through the free video lesson. Even after signing up and accessing everything you still have a free month to make a final decision. The first (free) lesson only uses 3 colours and a single brush so can be done with very little cost. After doing the initial free lesson I signed up and have slowly gone through the Beginner Course.
What I like about the site.
- The “Beginner Course” is graduated, starts very simply and progresses at a good rate.
- Not too many materials needed.
- The presenter explains things carefully and makes no assumptions about the viewers abilities. (He also comes across as friendly and enthusiastic).
- There are an awful lot of videos on the site and also a few written projects. You wont be short of things to do.
Things I found difficult.
- Once out of the “Beginners Course” it’s a little difficult to know the best order to do the projects in. I found myself having to watch several videos in the “intermediate section” before I could work out which would be best to do next.
- Once out of the “Beginners Course” I found there were more and more references to his own colours and his own brushes. With the colours it would have been nice he he gave alternative mixtures from the “standard” colours but this wasn’t always done. Just occasionally it felt like I was watching an advert for his own paints / watercolour paper / brushes rather than a lesson.
Don’t get me wrong I have chosen to stick with the site. I think I may even pay for the year which seems like good value. I just wanted to be honest about some of the issues I have found. You of course may see it differently.
As with anything else you tend to get what you pay for. By shopping around you can get reasonable equipment at reasonable prices but buying cheap “no name” items can be a false economy.
Please don’t bother with the really cheap watercolour paints, either tubes or blocks. Both can be next to useless, in fact they could put you off watercolour painting for life. At a minimum a would recommend Reeves watercolour tubes. Better still “Cotman” by Winsor and Newton. These latter paints are a good student standard.
Do have a good look around the net or your local craft shop. For my part I found the best prices Reeves paints on Ebay (but could only buy them in sets) and the best priced Cotman paints on http://www.artdiscount.co.uk/.
It’s the same with paper. Buying the really cheap stuff won’t do you any favours. I bought a cheap pad of specific watercolour paper from “The Works” but I might as well have kept my money in my pocket. The first time I wet it little “bits” started coming out of the paper.
You don’t have to go the “whole hog”, not to start with anyway. 100% cotton paper can be VERY expensive. I’m currently using a 300g paper which is 25% cotton. Again a found it on ebay.
Again it is worth spending a little extra and getting some decent brushes. A range of brushes is a great idea but I would say 8 – 10 will give you a good set. Try to include a range of sizes and at least one or two “stippling” / tree brushes. I have found them to be particularly useful on the course above. The guy who does the course has his own make but I already had a couple I got from Keith Fenwick.
Apart from doing the course above I do also have a small selection of books and DVDs which either I bought or people have given me as presents. The ones I particularly like are those by Keith Fenwick and Terry Harrison (In the interest of openness I will say I know Keith rather well and have met Terry a couple of times). When time allows I fully intend joining Keith on one of his Lake District painting weekends.
Whilst I’m enjoying the course I think it’s important to develop my own style. That’s the main reason I am reading books and watching video by other people as well. Each has their own style of doing things and hopefully by mixing they I will develop a style of my own.
The most difficult thing for me was putting paint to papers the very first time. The free video from Watercolour.tv did help me to get over that. (Together with the fact I set aside a couple of hours when I was on my own and could paint in peace. The paintings I have shown on this page are the more I am more happy with. I have had many failures (or should I call them learning experiences). Rather than waste the paper I have turned them over and used them for paint colour testing etc. I’ve also used them to practice a few tree and buildings, things I have found difficult.
Best advice. Watch the free video from Watercolour.tv, jump in and see if you can replicate it.(I tried it 3 times before I was happyish with it).