Weeks, Art – Watercolor Foundations

Materials List and Core Lesson Fundamentals Art Weeks Class on Watercolor Foundation

Early Fall and Winter Sessions

Suggested Materials List

  • Paper: 140 lb. Arches cold press; 10” x 14” or 12” x12” bound pad; any size will work as long as it is less than 12” x 16”. Watercolor blocks (sealed on all edges at perimeter) are acceptable but these will be more expensive. Individual sheets that are cut into smaller sizes 9” x 12” or 11” x 14” will also work.
  • Paints: Tube paints (not dry cakes) are recommended. Winsor Newton paints are good quality and reasonably priced. For lower priced alternatives Utrecht and Grumbacher paints work as well. Daniel Smith is a very good brand but much more expensive. Colors recommended: Cadmium Yellow, Lemon Yellow, Ultramarine Blue (Green Shade), Cerulean Blue, Cobalt Blue, Phalo Blue, Burnt Siena, Hookers Green, Sap Green, Indian Red, any Orange, any Turquoise Green, and Paynes Gray. Prussian Blue, if available, would be good to have as well.
  • Brushes:
    • 1” wide or 1-1/2” wide flat, Richeson or Winsor Newton quality.
    • Rigger brush (aka liner brush), Winsor Newton quality, no more than ¾” long.
    • Silver Black Velvet brushes #10 (round 3000s) and #8 (3000s). While these are more expensive they are high quality and can be very versatile depending on how they are used.
  • Mixing Tray: Small recommended with fold out mixing wells or a circular tray having 12 wells. A folding Jack Richeson Watercolor Palette is recommended but there are many brands available on line or available at Dick Blick and Wet Paint. Plastic is reasonably priced. A ceramic palette is not necessary for introductory classes.
  • Backer Board: 9” x 12” or 11” x 14” in size, but no larger than 12” x 16”. Use when painting on individual sheets that are taped around the edges. Tape is not required when the backside of the paper is wetted down first. Because of this, recommended backer board should be water resistant such as plastic, hard acrylic or Plexiglas (also known as Lexan via trade name).
  • Black Acco Clips: Use 3-4 for clipping free edges down when painting on single bound pads.
  • Tape: Use Masking Tape or Blue Edging Tape when painting using free and loose paper.
  • Accessories: Spray water bottle. Roll of paper towels. 1 dull razor blade (One edge side blunted for holding), carefully stored. Scrap paper for test strips.


Study the Techniques of Masters

  • Look at photos and copies of Master paintings and visit museums and art galleries often.
  • English Watercolourists that I consider in the ‘Masters’ class would include Edward Seago, John Yardley, Edward Wesson, Trevor Chamberlain, Douglas Treasure, Jack Merriot, John Constable, William Blake and J. M. W. Turner.
  • Swedish Watercolorists that I consider in the ‘Masters’ class would include Anders Zorn, Carl Larsson, Lars Eje Larsson and Lars Levin.
  • Australian Watercolourists that I consider in the ‘Masters’ class would include Joseph Zbukvic, Greg Allen, David Taylor, and Herman Pekel.
  • American Watercolorists that I would include in the ‘Masters’ class would include John Singer Sargent, Winslow Homer, Frank Benson, Thomas Eakins, Ogden Pleissner, Chet Reneson, Andrew Wyeth, Dean Mitchell, Andy Evansen, and John Marin.
  • Other Watercolor Artists to Watch: Michael Reardon, Brienne Brown, Darius Steward, Ron Ranson and Tom Schaller.
    • See how Masters use limited tonal values and how they simplify values by squinting. A little bit of watercolor can go a long way.
    • Learn what’s dynamic and what’s static. (The more you look at an area the more you will want to work on it.)
  • Key components in Master Techniques are composition, balance, drawing accuracy, and focus enhancement.
    • Think of a color painting also as a black and white drawing in color always assessing values, use of line-work and variation in shapes and lines.
    • Paint shapes, not objects; think of abstraction first and realism as a secondary evolution from abstraction.


Get Out of Your Comfort Zone

  • Value relationships:creates form; creates difference of space. Reality is created by value. i.e., distance loses yellow, creates space. Create coolness by adding blue.
  • Keep subject in focus:everything else must relate to it, BUT KEEP A SUBJECT IN ITS PLACE. (Focus on something and notice blur surrounding it.)
  • Value Juxtaposition: place darks and lights in close proximity focusing on the subject matter you want to depict and feature in your painting.
  • Composition:unity, variety, contrast, and balance.
  • Shapes: think of elements within a painting as shapes at first and avoid being preoccupied in defining elements to early. Keep thinking abstraction and refine into enhanced abstraction or enhanced realism.
  • Learn the freedom of doing quick vignettes starting with your imagination and pace yourself. As you work towards a finished vignette or sketch, you should be slowing down the process and deliberate more often without belaboring the process. Do not always become a slave to a photograph or even a plein-air landscape scene or still life.
  • Learn to put yourself into the painting.
  • Experiment by using brushes in different ways and holding the brushes in different ways. Experiment with wet on dry, wet on wet, dry brush techniques, and glazing.
  • Learn how to turn mistakes into opportunities!