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Watercolor 101

Lesson 16 of 28

Basic Brush Techniques

Molly Murrah

Watercolor 101

Molly Murrah

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Lesson Info

16. Basic Brush Techniques


  Class Trailer
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1 Class Duration:1:11:27
2 Q&A Duration:35:31
  Class Trailer
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1 Basic Introduction Duration:04:30
2 Paint and Paint Properties Duration:35:33
3 Understanding Color Duration:08:06
4 Hue: The Color Wheel Duration:14:16
5 Mixing Colors Duration:15:56
6 Other Color Terms Duration:17:07
7 Light and Shadows Duration:03:14
8 Layering and Glazing Duration:06:19
9 Homework Duration:07:47
10 Q&A Duration:08:15
  Class Trailer
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1 Watercolor Papers Duration:23:36
2 Paper Characteristics Duration:34:12
3 Watercolor Brushes Duration:19:15
4 Basic Brush Techniques Duration:32:32
5 Putting It All Together Duration:09:28
6 Q&A Duration:07:08
  Class Trailer
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1 Drawing for Painting Duration:1:03:45
2 Proportion and Perspective Duration:06:41
3 Good Composition Duration:29:16
4 Last Class Preparation Duration:05:40
5 Q&A Duration:09:10
  Class Trailer
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1 Introduction Duration:06:29
2 Creating Textures Duration:19:45
3 Other Fun Techniques Duration:33:13
4 Reserving Whites and Lifting Duration:53:13
5 Things to Remember Duration:21:54

Lesson Info

Basic Brush Techniques

Let's, go into some basic brush texan eight techniques. Okay, so take out a piece of watercolor paper. This is just we're just going to practice these real quick it doesn't matter whatever you can do it on one of the paint. This, uh, papers that you painted on before you can do it on anything so I would take your one inch flat and pick up a bottle of paint that you may be made previously might still be on your palate, and I'm gonna I'm gonna go through these pretty quick, so if you can't keep up with me, don't worry about it, but we're sort of running out of time and I do want to have enough time for q and a at the end so I would start hold your brush up right and then just trail it across the paper and see what happens is you get towards the end, you see how you have more paint up in the beginning and it starts to run out of the end. Now, let's, try to do a little bit of a bribe dry brush technique here. Now this is where you're going to want to get a good concentration of paint on yo...

ur brush, and then you're gonna want to use a paper towel or something down at the bottom to soak up this much of the water as you can you're still gonna have most of your pigment in there and you're gonna practically lay your brush parallel to the paper okay? I didn't get much paint on there but that's a dry brush technique where you don't get a straight across the board layer of paint using other brush I think I can probably do a better job yeah see that that's dry brush now depending on how hard you press, how much paint is in your brush the paint that you're actually using all of that will affect what you get in the end so the second line is dry brush or the third line is dr crusher both the first linus not dry brush but that was just the second and third or both okay, all right, so what you say when you when you scramble is that way haven't yeah that's kind of a bruton uh dry brush technique, but we haven't done this crumbling yet that's coming up and I'll show you that okay, so this one we're going to start with a thick and then turn the brush in your hand to get a thin on the end that's the third one down on the piece of paper in the presentation learning how to turn your brush so that you get from a thick to a thin line a read uh uh a leaf that starts thick down near the stem and then tapers off to a point on the end that's what that technique is for now take out your number twelve your round that was our flat take out your round. I'm going to do in a completely different color this time. Can you just let your brushes sit in water? I would not. I would try to really you know you don't have to completely rinse him off, but and you can leave him in there for thirty seconds or so, but you run the risk of getting a phone call and walking out of the room, and then you go back in and they've been sitting and you know, it's, just best not to best not to get into that habit. So get some good paint on your number twelve and start out with a thin line and then, as you press harder, that number twelve will fan out and create a thicker line, and then when you let up on the pressure, you get your thin line again. But if you take a look where you have put the pressure on the most, like, I put on pressure here and I maintained the pressure and then I put on some pressure there, and then I lifted it up that's, where you get your heaviest concentrations of paint. It's where you put the most amount of pressure on the brush and that's where it most of the paint load starts to lift up so then just do a wavy line heavy light heavy light heavy light see what that feels like and this other thing on here I've seen people do flowers this way where they just take their brush and they dab it you've got brush on the side of a beach of course it's not bright red but see that technique just using the end of your brush and dabbing it onto the paper now scum bling see what can I use for stumbling? I guess I'll go backto ultra marine stumbling is kind of a dry brush technique so you don't want too much water in your brush so you might want to try you know use your soaker and pulling my child as you can and again you hold a brush sideways like this and you scum ball to brush across the paper yep that's the term that's the official scientific term all right, might you use this technique water, water? I was just going to say yeah, water water on a notion so you're just dabbling in yeah, you're years just think what the word means you take a lot of a fair amount of the water out because it's it's pretty much a dry brush technique but just you scum bling along you're going to europe didn't you know it's? Ah yeah and really using the tip of the brush know you're using the side of the brush and that's why stumbling works better with a round rather than flat because around gets the tip out of the way you're you're painting with the fattest part of the brush and it's down near the fir rule rather than on the tip because the tip is where you'll get more of a solid color thes number twelve brushes her fabulous love these number toils okay now I'm going to show you something real quick with a fan brush I'm just gonna dip this in paint I'm not even gonna wet the brush first and then just wood grain if you use the right color we turn this over and you don't even you don't even stumble the brush you just drag it along is that wood grain or is that wood grain but I would make a cool sunset yeah, very cool and I mean just think what you know get creative thanks you know next time you look at something go what brush stroke, what I used to create that that's what all this is about is getting really, really creative and coming up with something that you've never I thought a learning to see with an artist I learning to see in new ways oh, and I wanted to show you dan's sideways painting this is what she does first time I saw her do it I thought oh god she's going to ruin that brush goes sideways and if she's like doing a uh a bush or something like that and she wants to put some red flowers in it fast fast fast well it is when you get stopping afraid it it is easy but if you're going to do a painting and you want to do a painting for somebody is a gift and you you've got it all figured out and you know what you want to do practice the techniques that you want to use in the painting first before you start your painting and before you start investing yourself in that thing that's going to mean so much to you say I want a bush that looks like that so I'm going to go over here practice that now here's another thing that you could do and it's not really a breaststroke but it's scratching see how I just put him limbs and things in the middle of that funky brush and this brush actually is made for that see how it the end of the brush is cut off and sliced two point sort of the way shifts sliced cucumbers that's why that's why it's like that so question about the fan brush when you were using it to do your your wood grain there you just loading the brush just the very tips of the I just loaded very tip you don't want it to be soaking wet because then if soaking wet it'll you know you want to just see it's a fan the brushes are all separated from each other I just stuck the very tip in the paint so not a brush you're gonna normally just really load up with a lot of pain no you don't love this up it's it's very very thin but it does good what you can do nice washes with it I've never I've never used it for washes but one of the things that said you can do if she turned it on its side like this I got a fairly nice wash in that area brushes are very versatile some brushes you can pretty much do one or two things with other brushes you could do lots of things with so okay way have to move on all right now here's another another exercise take another piece of paper I'm just gonna use one of these I'm gonna use this rough paper because I love it so much and you should take your one inch and with clean water so try good rinse it off in your dirty water as much as you can first and then pretty much try to get some clean water and put just it like a square patch of clean water in the middle of your paper my water is not completely clean but it's clean it off it doesn't really matter you just want it to be wet doesn't have to be completely clean but there are times when clean water's gonna be absolutely essential okay, now get a really good thick load of paint I'm going to go with a really garish sort of green color this is called hookers green and go over start an inch to an inch and a half off the wet spot to the left and paint through the wet spot and then drag that dry brush out on the other side and take a look at what happens to the paint compare what happens to the dry brush area and the wet fresh area and do it with the second color and then see if those colors makes him between in the wet area. Now I chose thea rough paper because I wanted us to see that what they called a flock yah laotian of the pain almost sounds like an obscene word but it's really the granule asian of the pain can you see how the paper has settled down into the wells? Uh, yeah, I think I don't like that. Really? Yeah, I love that I love it and if I tell to this and let these paints run into each other they would they would mix in the middle and create a very you know, interesting color so I'm gonna let this bleed a little bit and so what goes on when the two paints conversion and they create that white spot in the middle that's I think we're talking about well it's not a white spot in the middle of the yellow will push other colors out of the way take a look at what's happened to this now you see how the red is bled and see the red pushed the green out of the way it's not that you get a white spot yellow will push other other colors out of the way but if you put green or blue or something like that and you put him next to each other and let him run into each other they can't make white they'll blend and what you'll end up with this you'll end up with a nice purple on the paper whether than a purple on your palette that you then put on the paper again it's just playing and having fun with techniques let's see what happens if I drop a little bit of water in on this green yeah there's gonna be a blue that's a different kind of bloom I don't know if you could see it you can kind of see it let's see how the water just bloomed and created a really interesting texture on that green they're really nice okay so that's dry into wit back into dry again and it is a totally different effect same stroke same amount of paint totally different effect so these are various driver strokes very fine dr oration than a sort of a medium dry brush in than the one on the bottom is very coarse dry brush and uh you can stumble and get these kinds of effects to now this painting on the right was something that I just made up one night where I just did a dry brush in the background because I wanted to try to get some mountains and then I went well, I want some colors to bleed in there, so I don't know if you can see the the big bloom on the right hand side that was just where I put in some extra water and I liked what happened there and then I wanted to get some fog and I decided to just drop pure clean water and all along the bottom and it just pushed and blended and and it just made great fog I mean, you know, I didn't know exactly what it was gonna look like, but I was really happy with the result that that came out really happy, okay, now we're going to do some washes this is the one that's a difficulty guys, so don't worry if you don't do a great job, take out your I probably won't do a great job take out this piece thiss one here and I don't have perfectly clean water, so I'm just gonna use the water I've got to use what lesson about which one is it is hard to see on the screen this one where yeah, the flat washing the grated wash the squares and I'm going to use ultra marine you can use any color you want and I'm not going to care about whether it's all that thick or anything like that but just make sure you make s'more paint in the color that you're gonna want then you think you're going to need because you're gonna have to load this area of now you also might want to take some tape and take down the top edge because on the grated wash, we're going to be lifting this pete, we're going to be lifting this and so when you lift your board, you're not gonna want this to fall down. So did you say too wet? No, you don't wet the square first, not on this one, but you get lots of paint on your brush I think I even need to mix more paints okay, now we're going to just this is just our flat wash and you can tell the board a little bit with this one too the flat wash it's not absolutely necessary to be tilted what's absolutely necessary is that you have enough paint and you get the area painted before it dries that's what's necessary now oftentimes you will end up with a collection of paint in a corner or down along the bottom you'll get like what they call it beat of paint you want to take your paintbrush and make it a thirsty brush get us much of the water out as you possibly can and then I'm going to do this here and then you just touch it to the bottom edge and you'll pick up that extra paint down there that's a flat wash and that's a pretty good one it's pretty flat flat meaning more just just flat one like if you got up one of those skies out there where there's not a cloud in the sky and it's known and the whole sky is that turquoise blue color that it gets, you're gonna wanna paint a flat wash and this is how you would do it now I'm going to go on and I'm going to attempt a graded wash now they're a couple of different ways you could do a grated wash and I'm not really very good at either one of them. One of them is you can wet your square first and then you go in with a look fully loaded brush up on the top and you start stroking up the top back and forth and let the paint run down you have less control over what happens with that grated wash, then you do if you do it on dry paper on a tilted board this grated wash on the right I did like that I wet the paper first I put color open the top and then I just let it run down you can see it's it's not very even if I wanted this area to be the same is this over here it wouldn't it didn't work that well so I'm going to try a different way this time and this this way is you sort of mix up two puddles of paint one is pretty dark and thick and the other one has way more water in it the other one is about half half his dark now this is one of those things I tried the other day that was a disaster so don't hold it against me if I don't do it right this time it's very possible I won't okay so you want to pick your boredom and tilted a little bit you want to go and pick up your darker color because that's what you want to be up at the top and see how you get a beat of paint down at the bottom then you go and you pick up your slightly lighter color and overlapping that beat a paint you put in your slightly lighter color then you rents your brush overlapping the beat of paint down at the bottom you put just water and then you rent again always overlapping the beat of paint that collects at the bottom now I'm gonna go back in and add more paint because it's wet and let's see if we can get it to bleed down it may not work that great when you go in at a second time you tend to get lines like that it's not that easy you guys now that's not so bad yeah for something that you would think would be simple it's quite difficult very hard controlling the uncontrollable yeah it's really very hard now the way you tilt your board has a lot to do with it you start getting areas where some areas run further down than others so you start tilting back in the other direction this is where you when you want a sky like like um I had a teacher once who well actually was dan and she made her skies her skies were always a combination of oriole in uh sorry yes oriol in windsor red and wins her blue stayner's and she put very, very light concentrations of them on her paper and she made luminous skies with these colors absolutely luminous guys and uh and she would put a wash on one and let and let that dry and then put another wash sometimes she'd put them on when they're still wet one on top of each other and let him just bleed down they were gorgeous hey, barnes. Yes, case hey, does it just drop it? And you're thinking howard all those colors going to work and what they blend, they blend on the paper and they blend beautifully. Now this isn't terrible, but it's not great either. I mean, I would have to do this, you know, twenty more times before I got one that I thought really, really worked well and I think this one actually see the one here this is the one that I did in the last class that was actually a little bit better this one you can see streaks it's just it's hard it's not easy to do. How did you do? The first one I with a paper I went the paper and I just put a thick beat a paint up a top and just let it drop down. Yeah, I did. I do think I picked up a set the beat of paint and brought it down a little bit further because I didn't want the graduated tone to stop too far up in the square. But, you know, just that time I had better luck than this done go figure seems like it's a look that you could be in danger over working if you're not too careful yeah, it is I'm sorry after had to bring out this slide that's the slide I everybody wanted everybody to be looking at sorry class I forgot to bring this up but that's what we were doing now the one on the left is a successful flat wash. The one on the right is the one I just showed you from the last class that I thought turned out pretty well these air two additional washes I did neither one of them turned out at all. Look at them. I mean, the one that I on the right almost looks like the one that I did today streaks in it. The one on the left has streaks in it that the this will take practice. I guarantee you so the grated wash. What was I supposed? I guess I didn't have the square wet to begin with and I was supposed to no, you can't do it either way. Way. Okay, yeah, that my most successful one the one that I did in the first class that was more successful than the one I did today. I started with a completely wet and did it completely wet. That doesn't mean that it will be successful for you every time. What were those colors that, um dan uses again in her shoes is, uh, cory ellen and then she uses windsor red and windsor blew their stayner's they're very, very transparent and they you can put them on top of each other and a sky and and still have a luminous sky so let's do some putting it all together this is ah wonderful artist named aniline broken camp now she's one of the only artist I've ever heard of who works on a fabri on a soft press paper which is halfway between hot press and cold press and it's a very absorbent paper but when I first saw this painting I thought she painted on you po it looks like you pro tem it but it's not it is not it's ah soft press paper but it works if it's gonna work more like hot presser cold press it works more like hot press thing then then cold pressed because the paint sort of slides around on the surface of the paper it's more manageable than you po though some people don't like you pope because it's really hard to manage it's it's ah you have to be quite something to really words successfully in the ipo and george james this sample I showed you in the beginning of the presentation he's considered the master a few po painting he's really is just a master now this is an amazing artist in sweden her whole goal in every painting she does is to use his few brushstrokes as possible look at those now she lives in sweden where light is at a premium you know so all of her paintings have this kind of dark moody looked to them but that painting on the right just I mean I saw that and it just took my breath away and the painting on the left what does she have in there? Six eight brushstrokes total the whole painting amazing amazing she gets amazing emotion an atmosphere and and you don't need a lot of detail to convey that so I want you to take a look at this and go oh man that's how I want to paint then that'll plant in your mind how you practice next time now this guy a stand miller he is an amazing artist and I put this in because I just want you to see how he really has put all of it in this painting that looks like a photo look at that look at that look at his beard his beard is completely negative painting that he doesn't use white paint here he paints all those little strands in the whiskers are painted around he used very, very fine brushwork down here to paint that area but then look at the size of the brush he used on the on the right it's just one big stroke with like a three four inch brush he has lost and found edges in there he has fine fine detail and then down here in this corner down here there's no detail at all I saw it I just stared at this painting for probably thirty minutes the very first time I saw it and I contacted him all of these artists that I have in my presentation or people that I've talked to or studied with or I asked them if I could put them in the presentation they all said yes and he explained his process we wrote me long emails explaining what he does and um he's just amazing painter if you ever see anything like the latest issue of america american artist watercolor the summer issue has a huge article on him and a huge article and ted not all both of them are in that magazine, so if you can find that look for american artist watercolor it's called american artist has america, they have different versions and different media's and this one's american artist watercolor uh they're summer issue he's a great painter, absolutely a great painter and you can just see all the brush strokes and all the modeling and all the shading and all the bleeding you know he had wet areas bleeding into other wet areas dry brush has got everything in here and it's gorgeous all right let's do a really oh my goodness, we're already at one o'clock when you know what, this is going to be an exercise that I'm gonna have everybody do at home because we really need to get onto the exercise. This is called this one. Here is a single color variegated wash, where you wet an area of your paper with water, and then you drop in color, concentrated areas of color, and you let it bleed and do its thing on the paper, the one on the right. You wet the area first, and you drop in other colors more than one color and see what happens and what I did with the one on the right. See the yellow in the middle. All of that was still wet, and when I dropped in the yellow in the middle, it just pushed all the other colors out of the way. That is a particular characteristic of yellow that you need to keep in mind.

Class Description

Learn about color, papers, brushes, drawing and composition in this complete guide to watercolor. Molly Murrah teaches painting techniques that will help you create your own special works of art.



I would also recommend this class with some hesitation. This course is a broad and sweeping overview of watercolor painting. It is a good reference course and I will probably be treated like a reference book for watercolors. The skills we covered were valuable. It was beneficial to hear about the watercolor artists that Molly enjoyed and to have a list. The exercises were appropriate. I would recommend this course to someone who likes to know all the details of things before getting started. If you are someone that wants to jump right in this may be frustrating. Obviously, I am the latter. A few suggestions from my perspective....limit the product pushing. The references to Daniel Smith were off putting. I will try to avoid purchasing their products at all costs even if they are the best. It was very difficult to get access to the paint colors that she wanted us to have as some of the names are slightly different than what is available to me locally. I have already taken a beginner color watercolor course which I loved!! If I had not taken that course I probably would have been lost here. In that course(also online) we finished a project for every 10 minute lesson. I learned the basic technique's and it was FUN! I wish this class had more projects to practice that can be completed by a beginner and intermediate. Portraits seem like a large undertaking and it would be helpful to build confidence with smaller and simpler projects. I just felt a little discouraged. Molly is very talented and the work she shared was very thoughtful and showed incredible skill! I am very thankful that she took the time to teach the class and share her knowledge.

a Creativelive Student

This course was fabulous. Molly is a great artist/teacher. Her instruction has really unleashed my creativity and given me confidence to create.


Looks like a really fun class! I'll take it soon!