I had to take a short break for open heart surgery but I am back. I have just added about 120 new YouTube videos. Check them out from the menu on the left hand side of the page.
That means there are almost 450 YouTube instructional videos that you can view. Finding just the right videos on YouTube and keeping up with what is being added everyday is not an easy task. However, you can cut down on the frustration by viewing them here :-).
I am taking a watercolor class from an instructor here in Alexandria, VA. His name is Peter Ulrich and he is terrific. Check out his work at www.ulrichart.com. The method he taught us in our first class makes sense to those of us who are coming at this right brain activity with an overactive left brain. The process before beginning is as such.
Tape a photograh to the top half of sketchbook page. Use your tape to crop the picture into the format you desire.
Draw two rectangles the same size beneath your picture, one under the other.
In the rectangle just beneath the picture, capture just the shapes in the picture. Only spend a minute or so doing this.
Look at the shapes. If the composition doesn’t make sense, or there is something you want to add or delete, do so now. Once you have a solid composition move to the next step.
Replicate the shape drawing in the bottom rectangle.
Last, in looking at your photograph, and with either pens or pencils of different darkness, color it in to establish your value study. I put a key next to mine and only used 4 values (yes, I know there is an infinite number and the common scale is 10). Mine are black, dark grey, light grey, and whites. You may have three, you may have five. I used my whites to help me decide where to use masking fluid.
I am convinced that my painting skills will be better as a result of nailing the composition first and then doing the value study before putting any paint on the pallet.
The next step is to choose the colors you plan to use in advance of diving in (at least have an idea hwa they will be). As soon as possible, move your focus away from your photo and let your painting tell you what makes sense. Remember, just becuase something is a certain color in your photograph, doesn’t mean it has to be that color in your painting. If you colors are all very close and there is little contrast, stretch the contrast with your colors to make your painting more interesting than the photograph. This is artistic license and we all have one!
A very long time ago, when I was just starting to learn watercolor, I ran across a tremendous video I found on the internet. It is called “Interactive Watercolour CD” and was created by Peter Saw. You can learn more about the video from Peter’s site at www.paintdoodles.com. “Interactive Watercolour” is a complete multi-media CD ROM course in watercolour painting.
Peter uses small painting exercises called “doodles” to allow a beginner to practice and learn without the challenge of taking on a very large work right away. If you have a fear of wasting paper like many beginners, this approach is terrific as you can paint a doodle over a couple of dozen times using both sides of the watercolor paper. The CD contains so many resources it is really hard to describe them all. It is like a very large “coffee table” watercolor book covering every possible topic related to watercolor.
Many of you probably use Gaterboard for your watercolor work. It is a sheet (usually 1/2″ thick) that is light and fairly indestructible. It is different than foam core in that it is much stronger and really the only suitable surface for holding your watercolor work when you are painting. Foam core just doesn’t stand up to the moisture or wet in wet watercolor technique.
Cheap Joe’s has a video I highlighted in an earlier post for stretching watercolor paper that shows how you can wet your paper on both sides thoroughly, dry with a paper towel and then paint on it while it is damp. And yes, your paint does not bleed. Really, it doesn’t!
However, what I really wanted to make you aware of is how you can save money when purchasing Gaterboard. As you may have already found out, it is expensive. A 22″ x 32″ sheet at Cheap Joe’s is about $32. If you Google “Gaterboard” you will find companies that sell it in very large sheets such as 48″ x 96″ (yes, 8 feet long) and even 60″ x 120″. If you have a group of painters, or you want to have a few sheets lying around in different sizes, you can cut this yourself (several strokes with a box cutter and a straight edge) and get several sheets out of a large piece.
I was looking online today, and at Foamcore Heaven (yes they sell Gatorboard) you can buy a 48″ x 96″ piece of white 1/2″ thick Gaterboard on sale for $103.50 (their normally price is $210). if you cut this in to 22″ x 32″ inch pieces, for example, you should get 6 pieces. Six pieces at Cheap Joe’s will cost about $192.00; a savings of about $90. So if you can use more that one piece (I have several in different sizes) or if you want to go in together with your friends and share, this is really the way to go.
I just posted my paintings. To see them, put your cursor over the Pages Tab on the left and the list of pages should appear. Just select “Bob’s Watercolor Paintings” and you should be able to see them.
These have been done over the last couple of years and some are “ok” in my humble opinion and some are not very good. But then again, you will see that I am truly a beginner struggling to produce something good enough to make the bathroom wall 🙂
I have learned that besides reading everything you can get your hands on, like this blog, and watching every free video available (I will soon post links to many of the good ones I have found online), it just takes a lot of practice.
Please feel free to comment on my paintings and provide constructive criticism.
Here is a painting of mine that I would like to share with you. I painted this yesterday just before the Super Bowl. This scene was taken from the Terry Madden’s Volume 1 – 1500 Series book. I have found this book to be ok. There are some things that you will learn through practice, as I have, that just are not discussed. For example, it IS possible to use a brush that is too big! Just take a look at my windows. Also, I had a tough time with the sky where it meets the roof. I think I would have been better off doing this part wet in wet.
I invite you to comment and provide constructive criticism. That is the reason for this blog, so that beginners who understand beginner’s challenges can help each other learn.
A beginning watercolorist struggling with the medium
As a beginning water-colorist I think I have seen just about every way of stretching watercolor paper possible. I have seen it done with tape, stables, bulldog clips and even a special frame where the edges of the paper wrapped around a board where they are then captured in a channel with a rubber gasket.
However, one of the easiest ways I have seen that produces some pretty cool results because you are painting on damp paper that does not run (yes, I said damp paper that does not run) comes from Joe of Cheap Joe’s. Also, Joe points out that if the edges of your watercolor paper start to curl using this method, or if you just want to make sure they don’t, you can put a few staples in along the sides right through the paper and into the Gaterboard. When your painting is completely dry, you can lift the staples out with a butter knife. This is a lot better than using the paper tape method I have used in the past. Getting a painting off Gaterboard when it is dry is nearly impossible when using the paper tape method for stretching watercolor paper. The only way I know to get it off is to cut it with a knife and then you still need to get the tape off by soaking and scraping. I think Joe’s method of stretching is the best.
I am Bob Baird and I have created this blog to help others like myself who are struggling to learn how to paint with watercolors. Consider this site a launch pad to resources that can help you learn this medium. I will find and share the best free information that exists on the internet. There are a lot of free videos and articles that can be difficult to find. I will locate them and link to them from here. I will also ask you to assist me in this endeavor.
I will also from time to time review commercial videos (those that cost money), painting supplies, books, magazines, and other resources that can be of assistance to all of us. Most importantly, if I write about something, I will be honest and fair in my review. If I provide a link to the supplier, sometimes they will pay me a commission if you buy from them by clicking on this link. It isn’t much, and it doesn’t cost you any more, but it helps to pay the costs associated with hosting this site. Please don’t feel obligated to get to their sites through my site.
Please bookmark this site and come back frequently. I will be updating links to great resources so you will need to check back every once in a while. If you have recommendation by all means share them by posting them as comments here or by sending me an email. BTW, if you are already an accomplished water colorist, we welcome you as well. If you are willing to share your expertise with those of us just beginning the journey all the better.