Watercolor Technique: Big to Little, Wet to Dry, Light to Dark

May 21, 1-4 p.m. Pacific


This is a Zoom class! 

The focus of this workshop is how to manage watercolor as a kind of unique medium that allows layering to build saturation and depth, a la botanical illustrator or science illustrator. I found this concept really hard to wrap my brain around when I first started out, and because of that, I had a really difficult time understanding how to use this idea to become a better watercolor artist. Now I think I’ve kind of got a handle on it, which I think might even be a methodology, and I would like to share what I know. 


The fact that I even have a methodology hit me one day when asked by my dentist about a specific painting (the surf scoters, shown here) on the calendar I had given him. He asked me, “How do you actually execute applying the watercolor; what’s the process?” As I gave him a technical explanation, a lightbulb went on over my head: "Oh goodness, I have a process! Could it be sharable as a methodology?" The more I thought about it, the more I realized that maybe it is, and this workshop is an attempt to do so.


In this workshop, we will just work on a simple little flower illustration (shown here), working on petals, the “disc flowers” (middle of the flower) and the stem. I’ll send you the reference photographs I used when I created this illustration so you can be ready to paint it together. (I included the illustration of the surf scoters (above) because it was when I was discussing how I made that painting that the lightbulb went on over my head that I have a methodology.)


Supply list

Basic watercolor supplies but please let me know if you are unsure if you have the right materials. If you have the following you should be fine: a small set of paints, a couple of small round brushes (approx. size 4 and size 2, give or take), 140lb. or 300lb.hot press paper (I prefer 300lb. hot press, but 140lb. will be OK for this class; just be sure it's hot press), water buckets, paper towel, backing board and tape if you use those, etc. You can draw the flower free-hand but if you're more comfortable tracing and transferring the flower, you might want tracing paper and a little sheet of transfer paper (or make your own).


Paint Like Beatrix Potter

Sept. 18-20

Offered in person at the Sitka Center for Art and Ecology!


Beatrix Potter is my favorite natural science illustrator. Through careful field sketching, live observation and the use of early photography, she created compositions both realistic and fanciful. She was an incredibly hard working illustrator, churning through pages of sketches and paintings during her lifetime; what we see in her books is only the tip of the iceberg. This workshop explores Potter’s background, techniques (a combination of lightly layered watercolor and pen and ink) and subject matter. By learning from and imitating her work, we will learn directly from Potter. We will then apply what we have learned to creating illustrations of our own. Information about attending in-person workshops, supply list and other info available on the Sitka Center's website.


Intimate Mushroom Portraits in Watercolor

Sept. 21-22

Offered in person at the Sitka Center for Art and Ecology!

The translucent nature of the surface of a mushroom makes it the perfect candidate for illustrating in watercolor. Mushrooms make great subject matter for learning about the power of watercolors! The focus will be on pushing your watercolor skills to create sensitive mushroom portraits that glow. In addition, you'll gain knowledge about watercolors specifically, and color theory in general, that can be applied to your other watercolor projects. Information about attending in-person workshops, supply list and other info available on the Sitka Center's website.


Surf scoters.jpg
Hoary tansyaster flower.jpg
fawn lily_300 dpi jpg.jpg
Fly agaric with yellow-spotted millipede