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The Magic of Watercolor

Lesson 1 of 24

Class Overview

Molly Murrah

The Magic of Watercolor

Molly Murrah

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Lesson Info

1. Class Overview


  Class Trailer
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1 Class Overview Duration:1:05:57
2 Q&A Duration:47:19
  Class Trailer
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1 Paint Properties Duration:25:46
2 Understanding Color Duration:11:06
3 The Color Wheel Duration:22:18
4 Other Color Terms Duration:21:35
5 Mixing Colors Duration:10:27
6 Light & Shadow Duration:13:11
7 Q&A Duration:21:36
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2 Papers & Manufacturers Duration:41:35
3 Watercolor Brushes Duration:45:21
4 Putting it All Together Duration:14:13
5 Q&A Duration:23:24
  Class Trailer
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2 Drawing for Painting Duration:50:40
3 Proportion and Perspective Duration:29:47
4 Supplies for Next Week Duration:48:09
  Class Trailer
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2 Creating Textures Duration:11:57
3 Reserving Whites & Lifting Duration:29:11
4 Wax Resist Duration:07:00
5 Other Techniques Duration:25:37
6 Things to Remember Duration:10:57

Lesson Info

Class Overview

good morning everybody my name is molly mara I'm a watercolor artist and graphic designer in seattle and on thrilled to have the opportunity to do this class because we need more artists in the world and that's my mission create more artists in the world as you can see my style's pretty realistic one thing I want to say right off the get go is that you can paint in any style from the most abstract to the most photo realistic in modern colors it's not a medium that is suitable to one style only it is so versatile and flexible you can do anything with it it's a difficult medium but if you learn it and you know what you're doing you can do anything with it so I found this great quote with the most primitive means the artists create something which the most ingenious and efficient technology will never be able to create and that really was where I was coming from I've taken so many software and technological courses here with uh with creative text I think at one point over the summer I was...

doing five webinars in one week and it was just almost overload for me and I just thought wouldn't it be wonderful if we could have this experience in a in a painting fine art environment and so they're just things that you can do out of your head that you can't do on a computer so this is the five week course today is overview of pain alone or colors and and we're going to be talking about all the things about watercolors that I find so exciting and why it's a wonderful medium to take up we too we talkabout paints and color we're talking about the properties of the paint we're going to get into the color wheel and the theory of the color wheel we're going to talk about mixing your paint layering and glazing you use layering and glazing techniques to build depth and dimension in your paintings week three we talk about paper and brushes well all their various surfaces and all kinds of different watercolor papers and and they're pretty artists have their favorites I have my favorite other artists have their favorite some artist just would not paint on anything but fabri ano and others would not paint on anything but arches so we'll go over all of that ah we'll talk about brush strokes techniques how to create certain kind of edges with your brushes that kind of thing in week four we do drawing in composition now it's a little bit backwards normally you would do drawing in composition first because you need a drawing in order to paint but I wanted to get everybody painting right out the chute so we're doing this just a little bit in the opposite uh flow of things but we'll talk about the different styles of drawing there are contoured drawing regular drawing styles will talk about using a grid to transfer an image onto your drawing we'll talk about the rule of thirds which is where you find the best placement and how to create the best compositions visual flow and items like that and then in week five will go into everything else will do techniques will talk about throwing salt and and working with miss kit and different creating different kind of textures and special effects and that kind of thing so that's sort of the catch all where we'll do a lot of really fun stuff in the last week that's that's when everybody should really be having a lot of fun so why water colors well to me watercolors or just the most magical medium that there is uh this is a painting I did oh I guess about six months or so ago in a workshop and this was a soaked piece of paper that was soaked through on both sides and I started in laying in the colors I had a black and white photocopy to work from of a very very it was just basic black and grey shade it's on a piece of paper and I just started making this up and one of the things I loved about it is that you can see all of the the way the flow of the paint's into each other on the paper the way this comes down from the sky and leads down and then when it dried a little bit I was able to go in and get further defined lines that have and slightly harder edges and then when it dried a little bit more I went in and got some more detailed edges and then these things were done with a rigger brush and these white things were done with the end of a paintbrush scrapping scratching the paint out of the papers so I mean this is just a siri's of techniques here that give you all the way from sort of fine line detail to the wettest of wet flow of the paint on the paper with water colors and with painting in general actually you just vue life in new ways I I I've started looking at life with a painter's eye and it's made a huge difference in my life I take a camera with me everywhere I go now and just you know I notice shapes that I didn't notice before I noticed colors that I didn't notice before and if you take a look at the eyes on this woman that I painted the last year I mean I never would've put red in somebody's eyes before and yet the red in her eyes is what makes her eyes magical and and what makes me just drawn right to them so you just see colors in different ways in different places and you learn how to look for them everywhere learning to paint helps in other areas well this comes down to strategy you can't really paint a good painting without having a strategy and you can't really have a good painting without having a good composition so strategy composition planning your colors making sure you have a full range of values to create drama an interest in your painting all of these things are well the traits that helped me quite a bit as a graphic designer I think I really improved as a graphic designer as a result of becoming a painter so what's so exciting about watercolors and this is the exciting part the luminosity and transparency of the paint um oils or pretty opaque uh acrylics are opaque theirs there are paints and watercolors that air called up aches but really to my way of thinking no water color is really an opaque paint you khun dilute it with water and the more you diluted the more transparent it gets but the luminosity and transparency of the paper is just magnificent and it's the way the light can reflect back to the viewer's eye from the paper which doesn't really happen when you have ah canvas covered completely in oil paints colors flow and mingle most other mediums I find certainly pastels and chalks and colored pencils and most oils I do see artist work in oils with a lot of linseed oil or or some kind of thinner in it and and get some kind of flowing but I just don't know of any medium that paints quite the way that watercolor does if you take a look at this I had id it wasn't even looking at anything I just started working on trying to create a brush technique that would make some mountains and and then I threw in some sky and dropped in some colors and then down at the bottom I thought it'd be nice to see if I could create some missed and I just put clean water on some wet paint and it bled and it created missed I mean watercolors and just magnificent at creating atmosphere so the unique qualities of the pigments there are several different kinds of uh paints but they've been mainly fall in three men in categories transparent semi transparent and opaque and then an extra property would be sustaining quality and a granulated quality and will go into much further discussion about these attributes in next week's class on painting colors but in this particular painting I use just about everything these flowers here are painted with very transparent paints and as you can see these have really kind of hard crisp lines these flowers and leaves and things in the back where painted wet in tow wet and the there's a lot of bleeding and and all kinds of mixing of the color this area here is painted with a deep dark stainer called halo blue and fellow green and this area pierre had granulated paints in it so there's a law little bit of everything in this painting and it really creates a very effective piece I think okay this is ah painting I did recently of ah photograph of my son when he was eight years old he's thirty two now so it was the photograph is an old one but one of the things I love love about watercolors is how unpredictable they are I had no idea of what was gonna happen when I painted this painting and if you take a look if you see how all of this flows and mingles and the granulated pigments settled down and threw into the wells of the paper and I couldn't control how the colors we're going to mix I didn't know I was going to get the's muted tones in between some of them and how it all bled and out and things and to me it's just magnificent and I've heard it said many times that in water colors it is absolutely impossible to paint this into painting twice and I'll tell you if I try if I painted this a thousand times not one of them would look like another one another great thing about water cochise is how you can get depth and dimension through techniques called layering and glazing you can build on your colors and if you layer with a warm color you khun bring objects forward if you layer with a cool color you push objects back if you keep your arbeit objects sharp focused they jump forward if you blur them a little bit they pushed back if you paint something with a war in color it moves forward if you paint something with a cool color it moves back so it's just there's so many things you can do with it and the layering creates a depth because you can see through each layer of the paint down to the paper and then the light is reflected back through each layer so it literally creates a semblance of dimension even though you're painting in two dimensions this was a painting I just sold last week his mentor effect unique painting processes there's so many different ways to paint you khun start out painting brian dry which is basically just straight two color out of the tube on dry paper uh you go through expensive pates paints pretty quickly that way I must admit you can paint dry unwed which means that you wet your paper first and then you have ah ah very loaded brush with almost dry paint straight out of the tube and that produces some very interesting effects because you could get streaks of paint that then sort of bleed out into the wet you could get some very interesting things that way wet in tow wet is another technique where you wet the paper your painting and then you have a loaded brush with wet paint and you drop it in and watch what happens magic happens that way you khun paint wet on dry which is a very normal way zoom in on this you can see this whole area here was isolated unpainted bet into dry this whole area in the back was painted wedding toe wet I used some granulated pigments I actually dropped in a little bit of salt in this area here to get some of that model defect uh there's some stayner's in here I mean this painting has a little bit of everything to and when you use them in combination with each year that you can get some amazing effects one thing I ought to mention there are also some specialty and techniques and treated papers that you khun uh paint with and I'll be talking about those more later a swell okay I like to throw this in for a little comic relief this was a challenge I gave myself one day I sat down with a clean piece of paper I didn't draw anything but I had this image of this man and I wanted to paint him to see if I could actually just put brush to paper without using a drawing and I was especially interested in seeing if I could get his skin tone so I started painting him and about halfway through I mean I knew I knew it wasn't working but I went ahead I said well you know let's see what happens that's what happened so you know it's don't give up I mean you can end up I like this painting a lot and I ended up with something I like even though it wasn't at all what I expected it to be an intentional effects now this is one of my favorite paintings not because it's such a good painting because I don't think it is but this is another one I just made this one up out of my head one night I painted this in an hour and the sky was supposed to be a completely wet into wet technique but I had left certain areas dry which I didn't realize I didn't hold it up in the light it sees shine on the paper and everything so when I dropped my color and there were certain areas it didn't fill in so I thought well that makes good cloud so I used to tissue and I blotted and a couple of areas and I ended up with this sky that is my most favorite sky that I have ever painted and believe me it was not intentional well my second most favorite because this is my second most favorites guy so the lack of control of the pigments I mean you just really don't know especially when you paint went into what you you when you put that paint down you khun tilt your board and you can do certain things but there are other things that happen that you just don't know they're goingto happen and you just stand there with this big huge grin on your face because gorgeous things take place right before your eyes now the lack of control and this is this area in here I put my clouds in too soon and so what happened was I started to get this sort of weird bleeding into the paper and things just bled out and I lost some of the edges that I was hoping to get and then I looked at it and I went wow that looks good I don't care that looks pretty good so I left that and then you know I ended up with a painting them very very happy with timing is crucial I actually audits say timing is everything because it really is if you paint too soon you have a problem if you paint too late you have a problem this was a painting I did where I did something that a lot of artists don't do but I painted the foreign around flowers first and and they were painted wedding to try then when that all dried I'm asked everything out I used something called frisk it film where you put it down and you cut it out around your shapes and then I sealed off the edges around the frisk it film with masking fluid so that no paint could seep underneath the film and then you wait for that to completely dry then I went in and I completely went the background it was soaking wet and I started laying in the dark colors with the stayner's up the top and I let me make mention of that here the staining colors it's essential to have one or two staining colors on your palette because they are the ones that make your good rich darks um and then I got down to the bottom and I wanted to get that sort of mottled effect because it's supposed to represent ground so I threw salt but if I didn't throw the salt at it just the right time I wouldn't have gotten the effect I was looking for us so if if I was just ready to throw salt and right at that moment I got the call I've been waiting on for a week it would have been a problem another challenges problems can be very obvious in watercolor because of the transparency of the paint this particular painting I I love this painting it was sold also um but this area up in the top everything every single thing above this pier here was scrubbed out and painted six times because I just I couldn't do it I couldn't I would paint it I would hate it I would scrub it out you have to let it completely dry in between you can't scrub on wet paper it's gotta be bone dry and then you can lightly scrub with a toothbrush or a fridge scrubber or even just a wet brush that has cem cem stiffness to it blot it paint over and I thought well this is a real testament to this paper because I scrubbed it out five times and and finally ended up with the painting on the sixth try that I was happy with now this is called overworking the paints this is my son when he was twenty eight and ice started painting and I didn't really have a good plan and I just painted what I saw in the photograph rather than what I should have painted and I really overworked and I didn't do a gray a job on the drawing and so I was just kind of upset and I don't know if you can look at here all up in here it's mud it's just mud up there I used to many opaque colors I used too many colors in general so I really was not happy with this painting but I waited and I tried again and sometimes just trying again what you learned from the first painting will create your second painting being being a success now mixing colors correctly is still my biggest problem and even to earlier today when I was painting I was not mixing some of my colors is darkness they needed to be one of the things about water colors they said if you paint over certain areas too often they can get messy and let's zoom in on this so you could see what I'm talking about this was a painting that I did in my early years of painting probably about seven or eight years ago and it's a mess I mean it I like it it's okay but each of these flowers and each of these areas was probably painted over with various layers of of paint five and six times and it's impossible to maintain a crisp itch so understanding how the the thickness of your paint on your pal it needs what it needs to be in order to get the color you're looking for is really crucial and one of the things about wire color that's that's really interesting and a huge challenge is that it dries about forty to fifty percent lighter than it shows when it's wet so when you mix your colors on your palette and you get the perfect mixture you let it sit on your paper and dry and you go back and you go oh I have to paint that again it's too light I did not get the values I thought I was going to get so that's something that you just practice helps with that and I still have obviously haven't practiced enough because it's a problem I still have okay so if you want to become an artist I would say really set up a space for you to work in this is my studio space and it just has a wonderful feeling to it and it encourages creativity when I walk into the room and I I have good storage everywhere and I the window on the left hand side is eight feet long the one on the right hand side is five feet long and it provides good light plus I have good overhead light shining down on the table so all of that's really important and the other thing that's really important is to have good storage very important have good storage for your supplies and very important have flat files if you have or you can find them and can afford them this this unit on the left hand side I had made twenty five years ago by just a carpenter and so it wasn't that expensive but that's where you hold all your big sheets of watercolor paper and this is my painting set up this is the actual table where I stand in paint this brown thing here is a little easel and sometimes when you want paints to drip which is often if you if you want grey dated washes and things like that you will raise your painting up in the back so that it's on an angle I keep my brushes nearby here's my palette this is a bottle of uh masking fluid that you can use the mask out areas that you want to save in your painting this is my water container which is I have with me today it's really nothing more than just the top of a seedy container I buy cds and they work perfectly because they have just a crisp enough edge to get as much water color a cz much water and wetness off the brushes you want but they hold a lot of water and they're very light so they're not heavy to carry around this is a spray bottle which is pretty essential tohave cause you wet your paints before you start using them roll of paper towels a roll of tissue and other ancillary supplies but that pretty much covers it that area right there will cover your basic needs so your basic tools get the best paper you can I cannot stress this enough of all of the items that I would say it's important to buy the best that and paints of course but your paper it you khun use fabulous paints but if you're painting on crappy paper you're not going to get it good painting and I wish I had saved this painting that I did a long time ago I put it on bad paper and it and it was just a disaster and it was painted pretty well but it came out just looking street and and awful and so I tossed it I mean I couldn't even stand to look at it but it would have been a great example to show you in this webinar of what happens when you paint on bad paper so right here I have several different kinds this's fiber yano artistic oh and this is a rough surface and rough is just like you like it the word implies it it has deep paper wells and it and it it creates a very textured look especially if you use a slightly dry brush that's not loaded with soaking wet paint this is far beyond our artistic oh rough in a different color one is slightly creamier than the other and paper colors go all over the gamut there you know all whites what it what do you hear that there are a thousand different colors of white well that's what you're going to find in papers my favorite is the arch is what color one hundred forty pound called press it's a between a smooth and a rough surface and it paints beautifully and it's a very durable paper and then there several others thisyou po on the end is a plastic paper that's very very smooth you can paint on it the paint khun dry and just with a damp to teo paintbrush you can lift the paint right off the paper that's a very interesting paper and I have samples of what what that looks like with an artist that I contacted I'll show those next time your paint okay the palette that that we that daniel smith was so kind to supply to everybody who's doing this class in the live class consists of three different groups of primaries there's the cool primaries which are oriole in yellow eliza in crimson and french ultra marine and these are they don't they're cool because they stay to the cool side of the color wheel they don't like the yellow doesn't have a lot of red mixed into it if anything it's slightly on the green side the eliza in crimson is slightly on the blue side and the ultra marine is slightly on the purple side so these are the cool colors the warm primaries I chose for our kit are new gambo jp ira ll scarlet and yellow blue green shade ah new cam bows you can see has more red in it than the oriole and spirals scarlett is ah a slightly more opaque paint than the eliza and crimson and definitely on the warm side and the halo blue which is the stainer that's in this group is slightly on on the more yellow green side and then the optional primaries if you want to go out and buy them would be those that I would say more closely approach approach the opaque attributes and that would be yellow okker indian red and cerulean blue these are the more opaque paints have more they literally have mohr pigment in them and since pigment is a mineral either a synthetic or natural mineral the opaque paint's have a tendency to look more earthy like like they could be more of the earth now this is the palette that the r live participants it's not exactly this palette but it's a small travel palate very much like this one and I would suggest taking your your three groups of primaries and separating them out this is theo pake primary set this is the transparent primary set and this is I'm sorry the cool primary set and this is the warm primary set and you have your different little wells that you can mix in and uh you can put your thumb in this and actually carry your palate in your hand if you want to which is what most people do when they go out and paint on plane there which is uh painting outdoors a lot of people love to paint that way and you'll see a lot of patrons do that it's very difficult painting on playing there though because I mean you can sit there and you can draw and fifty even if you do it really quick drawing fifteen minutes later where you drew your shadows to indicate where they should be there different and then another fifteen minutes later when you're ready to paint it they're in a different spot again and you can't control wind and you can't control whether it's going to rain on you so it's it's just it's ah more difficult way to paint but it's a lot of fun and a lot of painters on ly paint that way they don't they can't stand to paint in the studio they don't like to paint from photographs they liked paint from reality and your brushes in our opening package for our live participants I requested these brushes the one on the left is a one inch flat and brushes they're categorized as rounds or flats the one on the left is a one inch flat the one next to it is enough number twelve round the one next to that is a number eight round and the one on the right is a rigger now a rigger is a long few haired brush that you can get those calla graphic brushstrokes with so when you're the very beginning painting that I showed where there were sticks and branches sticking up you could get really great sort of tree like effects with a rigger these would be would pretty much cover your basic needs is a beginning watercolor causes the water beginning watercolor artist you're not going to probably work on full sheets you're goingto work on small pieces of watercolor until you get used to what you're doing and that's also when you your supplies feel very dear to you anew you know the concept of throwing away a piece of watercolor paper is not quite as easy as later if you've had more experience with it so this is everything else I suggest you get uh aboard to paint on something that you can attach your paper too that you can lift and tilt because when you start pending wedding toe wet you're going to want to be able to control the angle that your paints flow in and so some kind of board is really important uh my friend and I made a black gate aboard for the people in this class that we actually laminated and then covered the edges with uh blacker really tape I think it's the name of it so that because gator bored when it's cut can be very sharp and you can get some paper cuts cuts in your fingers and things like that so but whatever you do make sure that the surface has some sort of acrylic spray or lamination or something like that on it so that if you do paint on black the black color of the board doesn't soak into the back of your paper and miss color your paper on the back you need some sort of brush holder it's very important you do never ever stand your brushes up in your container of water for the most part most artists even recommend that even after you're done with them and you dried them out thatyou don't stand him up in a jar so that the water that still left in the brush drops down into the for rule of the brush uh the best thing to do is to wash them well get us much pain out of them as he possibly can blot them dry reform the points so that they don't bend and then lie them flat you'll need some kind of water container and you'll need some kind of spray bottle to moisten your paints when you get ready they dry out in between you need some kind of spray bottle to moisten them and also spray bottles will help you create certain textured effects later on when you when we get to the last class paper towels and tissue you'll need some kind of drafting tape they're two different ways well there's several different ways to attach your you're painting too you're bored you can if you're painting wedding toe wet and you want to soaking wet piece of paper the best thing to do is to soak it in a big tub I just use a big brush and just keep coding it front and back until it's completely soaking wet and then you staple down the edges because when it's wet it's expands and when it dries it will contract and so what you do when you do that is you're stretching the paper on your board and then it doesn't buckle when you add wet paint to it later which is if you want a nice smooth smooth flat wash and you've got buckled paper it's really hard to do um a number to be pencil you don't want to use anything that's too soft because it leaves it'll it'll streak when you paint over it and you don't want to lose use anything too hard because that can actually mar the paper because this paper is soft I mean it's thick and if you if you press on it too hard you'll get mars that the paint collects in and shows up you know and sometimes I've painted I had no idea I had a scratch on the paper until I painted over it and then all of a sudden all the paint went and collected in that scratch and I had a very noticeable damage spot of my painting so you have to be careful of that you need a needed a racer or you can use one of those sort of plastic erasers that doesn't leave a residue on the paper and some kind of pencil sharpener um I suggest getting a scrubber brush but ah ah ah ah watercolor brush she has some tooth to it can work very effectively also a toothbrush or even a soft sponge if you want to cut out templates not templates templates can't remember and I can't think of the word but if you want to cut out a shape and then use a soft sponge to lift that shape out of your pain uh not a frisk in a sense that's it if you want to cut a stencil you you khun cut stencils out of like a plastic film that you can run through ah ah on ink jet or a laser printer and you can cut the stencil and then you put of what sponge down on top of it and scrub lightly on your painting and right where you have the whole in your stencil your paint your paints will lift and you can create some great effects that way like sharp bits of light on the on a brown jar something like that and then masking fluid and tools and we'll masking fluid is is wonderful they're artists out there who used masking fluid like you just would not believe it they almost put maura masking fluid on their paintings than anything else one of my first teachers that I painted with just used masking fluid toe highlight just a few very light spots on the painting her number one value like I painted a beautiful round face once and there was just a hint of light usedto reflection on the side of it I used masking fluid for that so you'd have just a few key spots around the painting where you maintained your whites and then everything else went into your darker values but masking fluids wonderful name when you put it down you can't leave it on your painting for a long time some of them don't lift up after a period of time some of them last longer than others some of them are colored so that you can see them some over more clear some of them are even blue and I sometimes use the blues if I'm doing a complicated painting so I know where it is later and I know where the area is that I'm trying to reserve so that the area around did I don't paint in a in a color that won't work next to an area that's completely white that kind of thing and a pickup to take it off of your painting after it's completely dry and after your paint is drawing on the paper you use a rubber cement pickup or you could just use your finger your finger will go in and you'll be able to scratch up the misc it easily and then you might want to consider just a white wax candle because you can get some really great effects with a wax candle you rub it over the back of your of your painting and it will lay down wax on the hills of your paper so that when you paint over it then the paint settles in around the wax but doesn't stick to the wax and now one problem with that is that it's most of the time stays there um I suggested to somebody the other day that they put a piece of paper towel and a and a very sort of not very hot iron on top of it to see if they could melt the wax back up into the paper town but I don't know the result of that I think that was just a much of a chance it would melt right back down into the paper so to start painting I think it's very very important to learn the basics composition is absolutely essential I mean you can have ah painting that has gorgeous colors and wonderful technique and even a very moving subject matter but if your composition is bad you're not going to have a great painting so composition is absolutely essential line on the good foundation I think of a good painting is is a good drawing and so the quality of your line and the quality of your drawing is very very important and knowing and understanding when when to use lines and when not to use them is also very important like I had studied with a teacher once who said if you want to have a loss and found ej and I'll explain what that is in the second you don't put a line in between two areas because if you do your tendency will be to paint up to the line and then stop so his hint was to leave the line out there and it's a very good hint now lost and found ej is where you have paint mixing and running into each other and in the first class I showed a painting of ah ah the portrait of a man wearing a big big hat he looked was a very spanish looking gentleman and he all of the paints of his hat just ran down onto his face and down onto his shoulder and there was no defined a line between any of those shapes you knew what you were looking at but the way the colors and the paint's all ran together and next together was just really extraordinary created gorgeous painting color of course creates your visual excitement I mean you with you can have a painting that has no defined shapes no defined lines nothing to find but if you drop a bunch of gorgeous colors on there you can end up with the gorgeous painting so the color is what creates your visual excitement values or what create your drama so if you have a painting that has all two and three values in it it's going very flat that's going to be the term that everybody uses when they talk about it it's going to look very very flat so try to get your I use basically five values some artists used ten try to get all of your values and your painting because I'll tell you at the end of a painting a few well placed darks and I mean really dark darks can just bring a painting tto life and form there are basic shapes that riker and repeat in nature and these forms are naturally pleasing to the eye so uh and some of them would be a pyramid a cone a sphere obviously a rectangle of cube um avoid an egg shape these shapes are resplendent in nature everywhere you look and so they are instantly recognized people don't really even have toe you can paint an egg bright orange and people will still say it's an ink and dimension and going hand in hand with dimension is per perspective so these are the basics that I would pay attention to and we'll be talking about all of these in the next four classes so before you start painting choose the subject that you like I mean uh I've taken lots of classes from various teachers and every once in a while there there'll be a subject that they pass out that they want you to paint and I don't want to paint that subject I won't have an inspired painting I won't have a good time most teachers are wonderful and they'll say paint whatever you like but tune in figure out whether it's something that you like and whether it's something you want to paint because it'll make a difference in how you paint determine your format is it a vertical is it a horizontal is it a square ah is it going to be a full sheet watercolor now a full sheet watercolor is twenty two inches by thirty inches when you tear that in half you get a piece of paper that's twenty two inches by fifteen inches when you tear that in half you get eleven by fifteen and when you tear that in half you get seven and a half by eleven so watercolor paper is talked about in terms of full sheets have sheets quarter sheets and eighth sheets and that's because that's how you tear the paper and it all starts out with a twenty two by thirty and also another thing to think about when it comes to determining you format is make sure you go out there and you figure out what your mat size is there going to be because the opening on your mat is it gonna determine how you how you paint your painting it's going to turn and determine what format you use and their standard mats and when I first started painting I didn't pay attention to that I just painted anything I wanted teo I painted you know ten ten interviews by fourteen inches and eight inches by twelve inches and they didn't fit any of the manse that were readily available so do a little bit of research and find out what your mat sizes are so that you can paint your paintings to fit them and then you don't have to have custom mats cut for you plan your strategy I can't say this enough plan your painting put some thought into it first don't just plunge in although as a beginner you know you're if you're not expecting to come up with the painting right off right off the bat just plunge in and start playing with your paints I mean do whateveryou want to as a beginner but when you start getting clear about what your paints do and you start understanding how they interact with each other on the paper paper when you start understanding when to do wet into dry and went into wet and things like that these air part these are things that go into your strategy so I would definitely spend some time planning your painting first designed your composition again goes back to composition is absolutely essential transfer your drawing to your paper now that can be done in married ids of ways you can uh take a photograph and put it on a projector and projected onto the wall and tape your paper up to the wall and transfer your drawing that way I what I do is I bring because I'm computer literate in photo shop I bring all of my images into photo shop and I put a grid on them that I created and photo shop and I print them out with the grid printed on them then I basically transfer that grid to my watercolor paper and then where the various shapes fall on the grid shows me how to transfer the drawing to the paper and that works really well for me I don't like to project I'm sorry craig is there a problem okay I don't like to project because um the quality of my line changes it just doesn't look good you draw too fast you you it just doesn't look good in it I don't like it so I don't do it but other people do it and they do it very successfully and they don't have a problem with it okay so the next thing I would suggest is due a value study that will help you figure out where your lights are that will help you figure out where your darks are and everything in between I I personally used to do a lot of value studies I don't do them so much any more because I work in photo shop and so what I do is I'll bring a painting into photo shop and I'll convert it into blacks and black and whites there and then often printed out and black and white and use the black and white image that I converted as my value study because that it just helps you make sure that your composition it's what you wanted to be and decide on your color scheme absolutely you want to decide on your comics game do you want this to be a cool gray painting you know to suggest snow in winter do you want it to be a warm bright painting of a sunny day it depends on your subject of course but your color scheme is very important that means he needs to be decided before you start painting okay this is a value study I did several years go with the painting this was done with my teacher dan lynley and what dan used to do she had a big basement and she would set up these still lifes around the room she would take all summer to set up eight still lifes and I I don't know where this woman got all this stuff that she got but every still life was this complicated every still life had this many items in it and they were all arranged in order to create all the different things she wanted to be able to learn they were all colors that worked there were worn still lifes and cool still lifes and I mean it was she was just magnificent and how she did that so this was my value studied that I did on this particular still life now what we did was we went in and we painted every painting four times we painted a black and white value study first then we would go in and we would do something called a velazquez which was three colors a uh an ultra marine blue a burnt sienna and raw sienna and that creates colors that are very akin to the colors that uh alaska is used to paint in when he especially when they did this ballerina siri's then we would do something called a flat which is we would turn this into a two dimensional image and used flat colors there were no shadows there were just shapes next to each other and what that did was teach us how to work with analogous and complementary colors analogous colors or colors next to each other in the color wheel complementary colors or colors more opposite each other they do different things when they're side by side they do different things when they're mixed so our flat it was done like that and then the last painting was the four color painting and that's going to be coming up so the painting process I would soak and stretch your paper first if you so construct your paper and you want to paint wedding toe wet then you soak it and stretch it and you can start painting right away if if you are going to pay if you wanna paint on dry paper then you soak it and stretch it and you let it dry and when you stretch it if you touch the back of your hand you don't usually use the front part of your hand because the oils from your fingers and things like that can get on your paper but you can use the back dry part of your hand and if you touch the paper after you stretched it and it's cool to the touch it's still too wet to paint on if you want if you're painting want uh I want to paint on dry paper the next step would be to mask off the areas that you want to save and um that's for your white areas if you want to save him now when you put masking fluid down your paper has to be absolutely dry you can't put masking I just didn't experiment with this about a month and a half ago and I thought well you know the masking fluid is so cool the way it's sort of fans out into the water and let me just try it well it was just a it didn't does not work so you want to put your masking fluid down on dry paper for the most part usually most artists in watercolor work light to dark which is exactly the opposite of how oil painters work oil painters work dark toe light um it's because of the transparency of the paint because when do you put a dark color down especially if it's a stainer you're probably not going to get it up again to the degree that you might want to sew your light areas you usually les what they call an under painting down which is your lighter colors and you flow some colors together and this sort of helps get rid of any white areas that would show up between areas that are hard edged and but fit next to each other you don't that you don't want those so under paintings helped get rid of that kind of thing a lot and then uh you just start building your layers and you build up your values there's a local artist here named tom hoffman he's a wonderful artist he's very representational I mean he he paint so loosey goosey that sometimes it's hard to even know what you're looking at but you can tell and he just puts his few strokes on the paper is possible and and he says never do more than four layers if you can help it one two maybe three maybe four but try to keep it to four layers or less and I agree otherwise you have what you run a tendency of creating money and again this is my issue may correct painting mixtures practice with your paints practice mixing paint on your palate and then putting it down on your paper mix it on your palate and up in the top do a little square and up with the top say okay I think this is a seventy percent rid and painted and then come back and look at it next to your value scale and see if it really is a seventy percent chances are it's forty and I I said in the in the first class that this was the hardest thing for me because as a graphic designer I'm trained to match things perfectly it's how my brain works so I match it perfectly on the palate and it's never perfect on the paper so it's just really hard for me because my brain just wants to do that my brain just oh five percent more sayin two percent more magenta it's how my brain works so this is really hard for me some of other people my first teacher dion linley uh second teacher I've never seen anybody like her she never paints over an area twice ever unless she wants to glaze back an area I mean she puts her colors down perfectly the first time it's magic to me how she does that okay you want to develop the shadows on your planes they're upright planes they're flat plains they're cast shadows and I mean there's so many different kinds of shadows and one of the things I want to tell you was it shadows or not grey you may think they are but they're not they have lots of color in them so add color to your shadows wherever you can and your cast shadows almost always have the color of the object that's casting the shadow in it so if you're painting a red apple you'll have ah read a portion of your shadow right next to the apple will be red so just look at your shadows and think of them differently they're not just gray repeat colors throughout your painting that's really important I painted a painting once that had a bright red flower and I cropped the painting in such a way because I really wanted to zero in on the leaves and things that grasses and all this subtle colors that grass is behind the flower but I left the black bright red flower up in the corner and then I didn't put it anywhere else in the painting and you know those leaves turned out great they're absolutely beautiful but all you see is the bright red flower so repeat your colors throughout your painting it's very very important because it creates flow in the painting it creates how your eye follows down and it links the whole painting together creates a cohesive painting layer and glaze we talked about layering we didn't talk so much about glazing and glazing is where you put a light wash of color on your background painting and I did a painting once where there was a wall in the background the head it's stripes of purple in the wallpaper and I painted these stripes of purple and then there was a still life in front of it and and and the still life was obviously what I wanted to be the most important but when you looked at the painting all you saw were the stripes of purple now I painted them the right color they looked like the stripes of purple on the wallpaper but it jumped forward and it needed to recede back so what I did was I glazed with the exact opposite color on the color wheel which is a yellow and it just pushed it right back it didn't grey it down but it just pushed it right back and that's what glazing khun do if you've got a red area that's popping too much you khun glaze it with a little bit of green if you have a blue area glaze it with a little bit of orange you khun want blaze toe warm things you khun glazed cool things so glazing is a very thin thin wash of color on top of the background and once again the background painting has to be bone dry and it's also really important to use a very soft brush you don't want to use a brush that has stiff bristles because that that will just lift up the paint from the paper underneath and then step back often this is the famous artists rule of ten ten every ten minutes step back ten feet really really important cause I can't tell you what you can see a ten feet that you don't see it a foot and a half it's ah it's just important to do there's a fork full color painting of that black and white that I showed you previously so you can see I mean I took a little bit of liberty with the colors that her background was a slightly different color and I wanted it warm and uh I just played around with it and put in some colors where I if if you could see over here to see the cast shadow see how the red is in the shadow see how the red is reflected off of this urn from the duck red reflected on the bottom of the bowl from the duck out here so take a look at your shadows and put them where you see them even if you don't see them now this was ah a commission that I had a client asked me to paint a portrait of her daughter and her daughter's husband on the beach and she said I've got this great photograph and I portrait my mind thinks portrait not full body shot so she said I'll send you the photographs and I was hoping to get this nice crisp eight by ten you know of them on the beach that somebody took and this is the image that I got it was four four by six and it was dirty and it was just it was a very difficult image to work with that I turned into a new a black and white and then I went through the stages of painting ice laid down first washes I laid down second washes I changed the background because I knew I didn't want that background it was just too plain and too ordinary for me it was difficult to paint because I as you can see the photograph was taken at night with the flash so I didn't know where the shadows would be I had to kind of make them up and I put in a sunset so I kind of tried to make them up from where I thought the sun was in the painting and this is what I ended up with a client loved it so a bit about me um I always loved to draw all of my life I drew as kid and I took art classes all through high school when they still gave them and I took art all through college but when I went to college I went as a math major and I was a math major for the first three years until they told me I couldn't take any more art classes I had to take only math classes and so I switch my major right there on the spot and I graduated with a bachelor of fine arts I was a production artists for many years that several new york city design companies and then I moved to seattle about twenty six years ago twenty seven years ago and I've been a freelance designer out here for twenty five years I worked as a creative director at a company for the first two years I was here I avoided watercolor because I'd always heard that they were asshole hard to paint in and I I I wanted to get back to fine art I hadn't painted in years and years and years and about twelve years ago I decided I needed to paint again but I again I avoided water collars because I just heard they were too hard but my dilemma was that it's my absolute favorite medium so the very first teacher I ever took with this woman named caroline buchanan and she was taking a painting trip to greece with a bunch of students twenty two people went she had been taking this trip every year for twenty years and this was her next to the last year and one of my friends asked me if I wanted to go so I went and that's when I picked up watercolors and I must admit it still was intimidating enough for me to not paint for another four years after I came back from the trip but then I picked it up again and I've been mad about it every since so I'm just going to show you some paintings of my teachers I've had four main teachers one of the miss the woman on the left d n lemley and I mentioned her to you before she's a just master of color and a master of paint consistent ity and thickness and and uh I'm sure she painted that in about an hour the thing that got me wanting to take from her was the fact that that I saw her do a one hour demonstration once on a half sheet watercolor that from thirty five feet away looked like a photograph but when I got up next to it it was this the most represents just splotches of paint that was not ah chris plunging down a straight line not I mean it was just the most amazing thing I ever saw and I went I had to take from this woman the person on the right is someone that I still studying with today kay barnes chaos actually has her own set of watercolors at daniel smith and from what I understand it's pretty uh pretty popular set of paints to buy she's a wonderful painter and a wonderful teacher her and she sort of came up with this treated paper technique on the right hand side she paints many other ways ah straight standard model color style but I wanted to show you her treated paper technique because she uses an acrylic gloss medium that she coats the watercolor paper with first and it creates a ah wonderful texture behind the paint and the other thing about it is that you can lift it pretty easily you just go in with a damn brush and it'll lift right up and the paint will not have soaked into the paper so you can lift backto absolute white and one of my funny stories was that I took a workshop with her and I brought the painting home and I turned it upside down on my table that I used to paint in and then I spilled a glass of water in the glass of water sleep slipped seeped underneath the image of the painting and when I turn the painting over the hold upper upper left court that painting was gone so you have to be careful with this with this technique and it's the same with you poe paper you put paper is plastic paper and it reacts the same way the woman on the left caroline buchanan is a local artist um she's the one I took a trip to greece with cheese wonderful color mixing and she paints very sort of simple geometric paintings and she really concentrates on light and she's a great person and let a wonderful trip to greece I wish she was still going because I try to say about my pennies to go again and the man on the right is a man who paint strictly portrait's his name is ted not hall and this is an interesting painting for him cause he normally doesn't go to the darker values he likes lighter valued paintings and so the dark values on the man's sunglasses are very unique for mr nuttall because he doesn't usually paint really really dark values and his paintings but he has this what they call sloppy dot technique and I don't know if you can see these just dabs of paint all over the place that he puts in for interest he puts him into ty areas together if he has an area next to another area and they don't look like they belong side by side he'll put a sloppy dot and just smoosh it over both areas and joined them together that way so he paints with his uh paper on an easel so that he likes all of those drips and all of those things he gets him in almost every painting that he does but that's his technique and I think he's a wonderful painter I I really do and the one thing I want to say at all of these teachers is that there excellent at critiquing student work and if you're going to go out and find a teacher make sure it's somebody who does good job that because it's it's crucial you can't you'll learn so much more if they actually can critique your work in a way that will make a difference for you okay so these are just some links and I'm sure they're going to be posted at creative tex and if you buy the downloads these will be in the presentation that come with the downloads my four teachers air in the upper left the people on the right are just wonderful painters I just loved them there are amazing artists they're all different styles and I I can get lost in some of these sites I mean this man here nathan folks block spot sorry that's underlined shouldn't be um he is a an animator down in california he does drawings that just make me fall off a chair he does amazing oil paints him does amazing watercolors and he does computer animation and he does thes big animated paintings he does the paintings that are animated you know I mean he's just an amazing artists all of these people I would check every one of them out and on the left is my website and there's my email information if you want to email me if you have a specific question about anything in this presentation and you want to ah just get some personal feedback I'd be happy to do that these air some of my favorite books and publications uh the books on the left looked at over and over and over again this woman here how to make a watercolor paint itself we got a lot of interest when I went into a little bit more detail about her painting in the first class nita inglis her name she doesn't teach in workshops anymore but she sells a video and I'm saving for that one because it's very expensive uh she's probably pretty close to my favorite painter never seen anybody paint like her and really if you checked nobody else out on the previous page check out nato angle ah some wonderful publication's on the left watercolor magazines and then the art calendar magazine down at the base at the bottom is a great magazine it's all about the business of art so uh it's they do show painters and things like that but they talk about the business side of being an artist and how to make money and how to get into galleries and howto take your photographs and howto work with your images and photo shop afterwards and things like that's a great publication and then ah there lots of art supplies suppliers in the country daniel smith it's my favorite and that's where I go for ninety percent of what I buy but there is cheap jos s w express and jerry's arte rama and you can buy from all of these places online can't believe what the end already so in closing like I said before be inspired by your subject paint a subject you want t want to paint your you're half way home if you do that keep things simple for your style one of the things I was saying earlier in the in the banter upfront that one of the things that that painters really do and I certainly do it is I say simplify simplify simplify I want to be a c similar painter I want to be ah simpler painter and so for your style whatever you determine your style to be keep things simple for your style there's a lot of stuff that people put in paintings they don't need to be there so so try to win it went down be bold it's only a piece of paper and this was a life changing event for me when I heard somebody say that uh it's only a piece of paper if you don't like what you do turn it over and paint on the back use itfor scrap it's just a piece of paper keep practicing a painting just no matter what you do don't have the expectation for yourself that you're going to be a master artist in your first year just keep painting because you'll be amazed at how you feel while you're in the process of painting when I took that trip to greece I sat down one morning to paint a single door and before I looked at my clock eight hours had passed and I had been sitting there painting that door and the wall around it and and the steps and the for eight hours and it went in a heartbeat so that's good for the soul and in these times everybody needs that and above all have fun this is a fun fun medium and I don't know if I if I've done even half the job expressing how much I love painting in water color that I want to do then I think I've been pretty successful you'll have a good time if you start this this process

Class Description

Join Molly Murrah for a fun, 5-week watercolor class for beginners. Learn about color, papers, brushes, drawing and composition, as well as many great painting techniques that will get you working and playing with watercolors!


Susan Mueller

Absolutely loved this class! I've been fiddling with watercolor for the last year, but have never really taken any art classes. This was the perfect intro level class in so many ways, covering basic principles of color, composition, etc. - and always in a warm, encouraging atmosphere. I learned so much about watercolor as a medium, and I would recommend this to anyone interested in getting involved with it. Would love to take a class with Molly again!

a Creativelive Student

I absolutely love this medium and have owned the material for about 5 or so years now, afraid to waste them. I've bought books but realizing I am both a visual and audio learner, this is the format for me. It is so important for me to be able to replay and review the information that taking a local course is just not as convenient as this has been for me. Molly is a delight to watch and listen to, she is such a wealth of knowledge. Thank you Molly and thank you CreativeLive!!! I am in love with this site.

Linda Berg

Molly is captivating! Her soothing voice exudes her love of watercolour painting! She is very organized and knows how to paint with watercolours and how to teach it as well. Not all painters can teach... I was drawn into her 'teachings', loved listening to her wealth of knowledge, and signed up for her course. Oh, I recommend it totally!