February 6, 2009

When I was 14, my older cousin gave me a set of watercolors. She went on to become a professional artist, specializing in American primitive style. I toyed with the set, but did not understand how to use them effectively. I used the colors very intensely, with very little water, more like poster paints, than watercolors. There are, of course, no rules saying you can’t do that, but the result does not look like a watercolor painting.

I kept the set over the [many] years since, and several of the tubes are still functional. I took a couple of watercolor classes over the years, but most focusing on “expressing youself,” rather than the technical points of using watercolor. I developed my own little cartoony style, using pen & ink and watercolor.

I am now taking a watercolor class with Kate Furler at the Falmouth Artists Guild. This is completely different from other classes I have taken, in that Kate talks about the many technical aspects of watercolor, not only choosing paint, paper, and brushes, but also laying down light, dark, and medium colors, preventing and allowing color mixing, creating shadow, mixing colors, and using water and brushes effectively. She give us very specific exercises, which she does at the same time, to better illustrate her points.

It’s the most informative art class I have taken in a long time.

The students are all experienced watercolorists, all wanting to learn more. Some, like me, only find time to paint when they are in class, and others paint more often. Unlike other classes I have been in, where students are reluctant to show their work, thinking it is just dreadful, the students are happy to share their work and comment on the works of others.

I am halfway through the six-week course now, though I had to miss the second class. I will report later on my progress, and I will not say, “or lack thereof,” because this is a very positive class!

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