Materials & Preparation for EVERY Lesson

Unless otherwise indicated, I will be using 1/2 sheet (15" x 22") 300# 100% rag (cotton) Kilimanjaro watercolour paper.

Other Materials required are:

1. Photo reference for sketch and value study (strongly recommended).

2. Pencil, eraser, ruler, masking tape, old regular size bath towel (tightly rolled).

3. Two water containers (one for clean and one for dirty water) - large plastic cottage cheese tubs are ok.

4. Paper towels and/or clean rag (to absorb excess water from brushes when necessary).

5. Board with non-porous surface (i.e. sheet of plexiglass approx 20" x 24"). A smooth non-porous table top will work well enough in the beginning, however, you will not be able to tilt or move it like you would a separate board.

4. Palette. If you are a beginner and don't want to become too heavily invested in equipment at this time you can use a white ceramic dinner plate for mixing your colours and a plastic ice cube tray to hold your pigments. It is best to fill the wells from tube pigments and allow them to dry out before your first session. Then, when you are ready to begin painting, mist the surface with a spray bottle, wait a few minutes, and they will be ready to use. I use a Robert E. Wood palette. The wells are large and the inside is divided into two large mixing areas. The lid also works as a palette for holding four smaller washes.

5. Brushes - 2" flat wash brush (this should be a watercolour brush - not acrylic or oil as they are too stiff and will damage the surface of the paper); 1" flat wash brush; plus at least one round - #9 or #6. When you begin painting on full sheets of paper, a 3" flat wash brush is advised.

6. Paints. These should be watercolour tube pigments. There are now manufacturers who make large quantity tubes (37ml.) of good quality watercolour paints. If you begin with a small selection of primary colours you should be able to mix anything you need and can add more to your palette as you begin to experiment. I use the following basic colours in these lessons:

Alizarin Crimson
Cobalt Blue; Ultramarine Blue; Prussian Blue
Aureolin; Gamboge; Burnt Sienna

I will ocasionally use other colours throughout these lessons and will tell you when I do so.

Step #1

Using the photograph provided (or, where not available, the photo of the completed painting) lightly sketch in the design on your watercolour paper. When painting your own compositions, you should always spend some time on thumbnail sketches, planning the arrangement of your shapes. Remember to vary the size and contours while creating a design that you can paint without too much difficulty. You want to have some fun during the painting...the journey is just as important as the destination.

Step #2

Thoroughly soak the paper by immersing it in a tub of water for about 5-10 minutes allowing the paper to stretch. This will open up the fibers of the paper letting the pigment settle, while reflecting the white of the paper towards the eye and thus creating the luminous look of stained glass. The final piece should look like a watercolour painting, not just a painting done with watercolour pigment.

Really soak up that surface water!!

Step #3

Holding your paper carefully by the corners, let excess water drip off and then place onto your board. Now, roll your towel over the paper several times. The paper should remain damp but not wet - all glisten or shine should disappear. You now have a workable surface which will allow you to easily achieve both hard and soft edges at will.

Step #4

Tape the edges to your board. The water trapped under the paper will allow a greater "window" of working time.

Important Note:

When I speak of a rich puddle in the following pages, I mean a mixture of paint through which you cannot see the bottom of the palette. The paint should appear to be the same intensity and value in the mixing area as it is in the well, but should contain enough water so that when scooped up with the brush and applied to the paper it goes on smoothly and does not give a dry brush effect. This will probably take a little practise in the beginning.

You are now ready to begin working on your free lesson.