Mountie Watercolor Club


#1

I jokingly mentioned in the Discord about making a watercolor gang, but some folks seemed into the idea. I was wondering who all would want to come together and be something of an art support group? There’s a lot of different activities and things I think we could talk about, like:

  • Experimentation and things we’ve learned about the medium
  • Monthly art challenges and prompts
  • Reviews and recommendations of supplies
  • Tutorials and tips
  • Art swaps, maybe?

Really the only requirement in joining this would, of course, be that you have access to watercolors. Doesn’t matter what quality they are, just gotta have access to the medium. This group will be open to all skill levels, and to anyone who is willing to learn. :blush:

So, let me know if you’re interested? It would help if you could tell me a little about your experience with watercolors as well, as well as anything you’d like to note (what you’d hope to get out of the group, things you love about the medium, etc etc). Within the next few days or so I’ll work on a post about how to acquire reasonably priced watercolors, and we’ll go from there.

Table of Contents

Informational Posts

Lessons

Prompts


#2

I’m definitely interested! My dad taught me watercolors when I was a kid, but I didn’t have a ton of time to keep it up in middle/high school. In undergrad, I picked it back up, but mainly to do abstract color backgrounds for handwriting stuff. I have a really basic cheapo craft store set that I use for that. I’d like to get back into painting things as opposed to just laying down colors for other projects, and I’ve been playing around with the idea of making a travel kit so I can go out and paint a larger variety of things. Like, the water brush thing that’s been sort of trendy lately, along with a small set of nicer paints. So that’s about where I’m at.


#3

I’m in! I have a few sets lying around that I haven’t had much of an excuse to use.


#4

I have some water color pencils from renderings in stage makeup class (I got an A in the class, but the teacher also had cataracts, so…)
Since then I’ve used them for little drawings I sent to my brother several years ago, and almost a year of monthly calendars when I first got my current job. And running club birthday cards (where I colored it blue and had to use my finger to spread the water on them because my brushes were all in the closet somewhere).


#5

Well ahead of schedule, I bring you….

A Big Ol Watercolor 101 Guide!

Watercolor types.
There’s actually several ways you can work with watercolors, such as:

  • Tubes – Your stereotypical paint. It kind of has the consistency of toothpaste, I guess?
  • Pans – A dried form of tube watercolors. You activate it with water.
  • Liquid – A mix of watercolor pigment and dyes.
  • Pencils – Kind of like colored pencils, except you add water and it disperses the pigment.
  • Sticks – Literally sticks made of pure pigment. They can be used similarly to crayons.

Student vs. Professional. What’s the difference?
So, many watercolor brands split their products into two different categories – student and professional/artist grade paints. Although student grade watercolors are cheaper – this is for a reason. Artist quality paints have more pigment in relation to the binding agent (which is the thing that keeps the paint pigment together, and protects the paint once it’s on the paper). This makes the paint last longer, and it also makes the pigment more vivid. Student grade paints also tend to be available in fewer colors, and not all brands have a student grade. Student grade paints aren’t necessarily bad, but the artist grade paints tend to last you longer and are easier to work with, so it’s worth the investment if you think you’ll be painting a lot.

Student Grade Watercolors:

Professional Grade Watercolors:

Affordable options to consider:

What’s in my personal palette:

  • Holbein (My personal favorite)
  • Daniel Smith
  • Schmincke Horadam Aquarell

Paper and Brushes - Important elements of success:
Another thing to consider is what paper you’re using, and what brushes. Using a crappy paper can be the kiss of death, even if you’re using a good quality paint. If you’re using the wrong paper, your paper will warp quickly and it’ll quickly get over-worked, leading to annoying shreds of paint on your paper. There are a couple of things to consider with paper:

  • Is it acid free? If your paper is acid free, then it’s going to last longer. Otherwise, if it isn’t acid free, it’ll yellow and become brittle over time.
  • Weight – paper comes in heavy and light varieties. Anything under 140 lb is usually considered a light paper, and generally the heaviest weight you can get is 300 lb. Generally speaking, I recommend going no lighter than 90 lb for watercolor work, but I would recommend going and getting that 140lb paper if you can. Your paper is less likely to get wrinkles if you do.
  • Textures – there are two types of watercolor paper, cold-press and hot-press. Cold-press is more rough and textured, it tends to be a bit easier to control your paint on. Hot-press is smooth, but it can be a bit more difficult to control.
    If you’d like to read more about paper, I suggest this article.

Solid Paper Brands:

As far as brushes, they’re a whole other beast that I could do a separate post on. But I’ll boil it down for this:

  • There are different brushes for different media. You want to make sure that you’re using brushes intended for watercolor, not acrylics or oils.
  • Use the right tool for the job. Don’t go in with overly small brushes.
  • There’s a whole debate over the type of bristles that are the best, synthetic or natural. There’s good and bad about both, but generally don’t worry about it.
  • Brushes come in different sizes (which are graded in numbers - the bigger the number, the bigger the brush) and shapes (there are lots, but the two most important are round and flat)
  • My own personal recommendations for starter brushes would be a no. 14 round brush, a no. 8 round brush, and a no. 2 rigger brush.
  • This is a pretty solid guide on brushes, if you want more information.

Solid brush brands:

Palettes:
So this is totally optional, but especially if you want to travel or do plein air painting, you’ll want to have a palette. You can find ‘em super cheap on Amazon. Here are a few:

If you have an art supply store in your area, you can probably find one for like 5 – 7$, so consider looking there.

Anyways, that’s all for now. Of course, if you have any questions, feel free to post here or message me. I’m always happy to help!


#6

I’d love to experiment more with the medium! I did briefly in high school and I’m really bad but I’d love to get better if you all will have me.


#7

@Tinker @Sellalellen @Ashburn @Ravenwing @OracleSage

Hey guys! So I’m sensing that most of y’all are still getting accustomed to watercolors. Would we like to do a little homework assignment?

Something really useful in watercolors is creating a glazing chart (I just call 'em palettes, but that can get a bit confusing). The gist of it is, you mix colors together in a grid so that you can see how different colors interact with eachother. You can see a tutorial on how to do that here. Another method of doing the chart can be found here.

What I’d like us all to do is create a glazing chart of six different colors. Then, using that chart, work to use those colors in a a quick painting. The painting can be whatever you’d like, but in case anyone wants a prompt/theme, you can use thorns as your inspiration. Sound good?

If so, let’s all try to have something to show by, say, Wednesday, November 8? That gives you a week and a half to pick your colors, do your chart, and do a quick painting. Then, after we’re done, let’s talk about what we think we did well, what we think we can improve on, and something we learned in the process.


#8

Btw, if folks are still acquiring watercolors and such, then try to get your hands on something by Wednesday. Even if it’s cheapo Prang watercolors you can get at Walmart. :joy: Then, let me know something that you liked about the product, and something you think you still need to add to your palette in the future.


#9

I started a thread for assignment reflections. Feel free to add on whenever you’re ready!


#10

Hi is this still a thing people are doing? I love watercolors and this whole thing sounds really cool!


#11

I’m definitely down to keep going with this…I just probably won’t have time to participate for another two weeks. But after that, I’d love to do another exercise!


#12

Yes! I’m totally planning to reboot this in the near future. Just got lost in the hecticness of the semester. :sweat_smile:


#13

Awesome, I can’t wait! And lol I know how that goes.


#14

Sign me up! I really need to fight with the beast that is watercolors.


#15

Finally got some watercolors so I’m gonna try to jump on this train!


#16

Alright guys! I know the watercolor club has been sleeping for some time, but I think it’s about time we start up again.

So, here’s the plan – I want there to be multiple elements to this club, as I mentioned, and I’m breaking those down as such:

  • Lesson plans – Essentially, we’re all going to commit to studying something each week/every other week. I’ve compiled a list of subjects that we can draw from, and I’ll compile an introductory post on the subject with links to extra information. As we work, we’ll discuss the subject in the thread, post our results, and so on. If a topic seems particularly complex, we might spend more time on it.
  • Monthly prompts – I know a lot of people struggle with not knowing what to paint, so I’ll be posting a monthly art prompt. They’ll mostly be broad and open to interpretation so that folks can take them in many directions. It’d be awesome if people could write about their experiences with the painting, things they learned or noticed, and so on.
  • Bi-weekly questions – Think of this like a journaling exercise. I’ll throw some questions at you in regards to your art, and you can write a little reflection on your work and your experience with your paints.

Also, I just want to add a small administrative note… I want to keep most of the content in this thread, but I’m planning to add a sort of home base, table of contents element to the first post. So, if you ever want to know when a prompt was posted or track down one of the lesson plans, there will be links right up there in that first post.

Here are a list of lessons I’m planning for us to tackle:

  • Making a mark – learning to control the paint
  • Paint application techniques - wet on wet, wet on dry, dry on wet, dry brush, lifting color, scumbling, glazing, flat wash
  • Color theory/mixing colors
  • Highlights and shadows
  • Layering and glazing
  • Hard, soft, and lost edges
  • Adding texture – salt, alcohol, and additives
  • Masking fluid
  • Experimental techniques
  • Composition and elements of painting
  • Painting from observation
  • Flesh tones
  • Simple portraits
  • Figures and the human form
  • Simple landscapes

Because we’re dealing with a variety of skill levels here, some of these lessons may be very easy, and some may be very difficult. I’ll do my best to suggest ways to ramp up the difficulty for more skilled folks and, for those who are newer, my best advice is to do what you can at the skill level you’re at now and don’t stress if you’re not perfect.

Sooo, that’s all for now. I’m drafting the first lesson plan, and I should have this month’s prompt up shortly as well.

Also, if you have questions or suggestions, feel free to post them!


#17

Alright fam, buckle up, because it’s time for lesson one…

Making a Mark!

So, what precisely is this lesson about? What do I mean by making a mark? Well…

When you’re first working with watercolors, it can be scary. Even for folks that have some level of experience, or who are confident in their rendering abilities, it can be easy to get boxed in, to not feel comfortable takings risks. This lesson is about letting go. The best advice I can give you in doing this is to go in with an open mind, and let go of your fear of failing. You won’t fail, you’ve already succeeded just by giving it your best effort.

The awesome thing about this project is, if you’re not as confident in your skill, the abstractness will seem intentional rather than an error. You shouldn’t feel bad if your anatomy isn’t perfect because it’s not necessarily supposed to be. This is a good way to start feeling okay about the work that you’re doing. And if you’re strong in your skills, this will challenge you to do complex poses and compositions, to think more subconsciously.

So, making a mark is quite literally what it sounds like. You take a blank sheet of paper, put down some random marks, wait for it to dry, and then try to create a coherent piece using the shapes you put down in that initial stage. There are two parts to this, so I’ll break them down as such:

Part One: Making the Mark

  • Step one: Set up your palette, fill it with a variety of colors you think you might use. Get a blank sheet of watercolor paper. I recommend something a bit larger, at least 9 x 12in, so you have room to work.
  • Step two: Empty your mind. Relax. Try to let your subconscious mind take over.
  • Step three: Wet the paper a bit. Don’t drown it, but if you have a spray bottle, just get it moist. Or use a mop brush to wet the paper a bit.
  • Step four: Take your brush, pick a color, and make a random mark on the page. Do whatever feels right to you. Repeat this as many times as needed, but try not to go off the page, or to fill the entire page up with paint. You want to make a sort of random shape that you can work out of.
  • Additional step: You don’t need to do this, but if you want to add more texture, you can do a few things. One option is to put salt on the painting, and let it sit for several hours. You can also put some plastic cling wrap in the painting, set something heavy over it (like a textbook) and let it dry overnight.

Part Two: Interpreting the Mark

So, you have your mark. If all went well, it should be pretty abstract now, right? So, what's next? You need to interpret it, find meaning. Think of it kind of like a Rorschach test.

Take your painting and look at it from a distance. If you can pin it up on a wall, that would be good (just make sure not to put holes in your painting). Now, look at it up close. Look at it from all sides. See if you see anything. A wizard, a pot of gold, a two headed cow. Maybe ask a friend. It may also help to get some tracing paper, go over the painting, and draw what you see from the marks. That way, if it doesn’t work out, you don’t mark up the painting, just the little sheet of tracing paper.

Once you have an idea of what you want, it’s time to manifest. If you want to, you can lightly sketch over your painting, putting lines where the form of your image is. Now you paint. Develop the form of your idea, create shadows and highlights. Add new colors to clarify what you see.

To give you an idea what we’re going for, here is a link to some work I did last semester using this technique.

I’m not gonna put a deadline on this, but I’ll be posting another lesson in about two weeks or so. For now, I’d love for you guys to try this out. Have fun. Play. I know it might seem kind of odd, but humor me on this one. :blush:


#18

Also, here is the prompt for February. Feel free to include it in the lesson, or do a separate piece, if you prefer. The prompt is…

Ethereal!

So go out and do something dreamy, to accompany this surreal lesson. :cloud:


#19

cracks knuckles

Oh man I am so excited to give this a go!!


#20

Since you’ve expressed an interest in costumes, you get an extra assignment - try to manifest your mark into a costume plate. :eyes: Good luck, bab!