Tuesday, July 16, 2024

Going Coastal July 2024

Beach, coastal, seashells & ocean.  July 24th watercolor class.
The heat of summer has arrived and my thoughts are turning to painting in watercolors with a focus on coastal vibes.  For this class, I am curious to see what each person might choose for their specific subject.  Maybe a single seashell or a beach sunset.  Maybe a palm tree silhouette against a blue sky.  Let's jump into all the details:

This will be another afternoon class, held on Wednesday, July 24th from 2 to 5 pm.  Location is in person, here in my home studio in Conrad, Montana.  I have flat open work space at tables to accommodate 6 people but could probably find room for a few more.  Bring your art supplies and a desire for a few hours of relaxing fun; plan to be encouraged in your own creative journey.  (Don't have your own supplies and unsure whether this class is for you?  Read on and I'll go into that further on below.)  Draw and paint at your own pace.  I will be giving some instruction periodically to grow your skills.  I fully appreciate hearing from you what you would like to take away from the class.  A couple of students in the June classes spoke up with their requests.  It's helpful for me because I really want to personalize the classes based on individual people coming to join me here.  

Photo of palm trees on a beach with blue sky.
A Kauai beach, photo taken September 2023.

I announced the single afternoon date for the July class last week on Facebook.  I know not everyone is bound to see that so I am putting this information out here on the blog today.  My next goal is to get an email sent today as well.  Summer can be extremely busy so if this month doesn't have anyone available for that one day, I'll move on to planning for August's class.  I am interested in knowing whether anyone would be interested in evening classes beginning in September.  As the seasons change, our schedules change as well.  

Sunny sky with palm trees.
Image courtesy of Canva.

My goal is to make watercolor classes available on a regular basis in a way that offers the opportunity to learn in a way that's positive and focused on learning skills; my secondary goal is to help those in the class understand how this creative journey can be a calming and restorative one.  I would like to be a guide on the path reminding others that it's not really all about the finished artwork.  That is a misconception.  Letting go of the pressure to perform or achieve is a perfect place to begin.  I am not here to make more artists.  You know if you've got an internal desire to create.  You might already have an inkling that you're an artist but have a difficult time accepting that as part of yourself.  You might feel hesitant, like an imposter, unqualified to say you're an artist.  That's one of the symptoms of being an artist.

Sunset on the beach with palm trees silhouetted.
Image courtesy of Canva.

If you have been feeling like it would be great to find new ways of taking care of yourself in the middle of life stress, the exploration of creating might be a great venture.  You won't know until you try.  "Am I any good at this?" is a question I hear from time to time.  That's not my place to decide.  I am not qualified to to predict or determine who should or can create art.  I will respond with, "are you enjoying yourself?" If you are having a wonderful time, who really cares.  I don't.  I enjoy seeing people light up and relax while holding a brush in hand.  Push some watercolor paint around on paper and at some point you'll forget to care as well.  You'll be so enamored with how playful and spontaneous watercolor and water can be...and soon it won't seem scary; it will become exciting.

An arrangement of seashells.
An arrangement of seashells.

I look forward to seeing who feels the nudge to try watercolor and step out in curiosity with a sense of adventure.  If you need to acquire your own basic supplies for class, there's a blog post where I describe what you will want to pick up.  Watercolor Class Supply List post is linked here.  If you have so much hesitancy that you would rather try a class first, getting a better idea of whether you'd like to continue...reach out to me and I can set you up with basic supplies for your first class.  On a desktop, you can look at the panel down the right side of the screen for Popular Posts.  There you'll find other topics relevant to learning watercolors.

A variety of seashells on a table surface.
A variety of seashells for reference.

For this class, you have options.  Choose one or several seashells from my stash, bring your own seashells or photo reference or choose a photo reference I share.  Maybe you have a photo from a memorable vacation which you'll want to focus on.  For those who reserve seats, I will send an email about two days in advance with more information, including a link to an online Google album of art reference photos.  You can begin a drawing on watercolor paper before you arrive or wait until you come to class.  If you have watercolor tubes to place in a palette, you can do that before class or once you are here.  Have questions, please reach out by message or email.

Seashells arranged near a watercolor palette and brush.
Seashells arranged near watercolor palette.

August dates and themes will be a good topic to cover in the July class.  I have been thinking about garden visitors like dragonfly, bumblebee, ladybug, and birds.  That's a starting place to find ideas to explore and give a focus for applying new skills.  If you would like to have a class without a theme for August, that's a possibility as well.  Maybe you would rather have the freedom to choose your own inspiration and I will cover topics like light source direction, form shadows, reflective shadows, cast shadows.  All of this is open to changing.  Begin thinking on which skills you'd like to understand better and which art mediums you would like to add in with watercolors.

Painting seashells in watercolor with seashells arranged nearby.
Painting seashells in watercolor.

Looking forward to moving into a coastal frame of mind and spirit with you!  We'll have a great time experimenting with different ways of describing form with lines and color mixing.  I have iridescent watercolor pigments in my stash for anyone wanting to try out a bit of shimmer in their artwork.

All those taking this class must RSVP to save a seat.  Send me an email to be sure you have your spot reserved.  Come paint this beachy theme with me!


Friday, July 12, 2024

Background photo of purple and yellow violas with title Painting Pansies.
Watercolor classes have begun again!  Two afternoons of painting pansies here in the art studio was amazing time spent together with several friends, both old and new.  All of this began with a thorough cleaning and reorganizing session to make the space better suited for sharing with other painters.  

Because the violas have been abundantly reseeding and growing in my garden (more than ever!), and their shape and colors are both simple and inspiring, I chose pansies (violas, johnny jump-ups) as the theme.

A photo of violas, miniature pansies.

In time, I will become much better at spreading news of upcoming classes.  I apologize for not sharing a post here in advance.  I am slowly getting back into the steps of publicizing watercolor classes.  I am sharing on Facebook and Instagram along with an email list.  If you are interested in getting notified my email, please send me an email letting me know.  At present, my classes are only offered here on location in my home art studio.  It's most easily managed with a smaller group, my own studio setting, not needing to pack up supplies, more flexible scheduling, and my set up can be days in advance.  This space has a calming and relaxing atmosphere by design.  Over the years, it has been modified in a lot of ways to benefit functioning as a creative space.

Painting work space with paper and paints.

The lighting in my home studio has been switched out for a much better experience.  I am amazed at the difference from before and after.  It's like daylight is pouring through sky lights!  Evening and winter painting will be better without the need for multiple task lights.  

Painting around the leaves with watercolor.

In June of 2024, I offered two afternoon classes and had a few students each day.  I did not have either class fill up completely so July's class will be offered on only one afternoon.  I have not had anyone contact me requesting an evening or Saturday class so that may not be necessary.  I would be more than happy to accommodate anyone wishing to schedule a private event for six to nine students at one time.  

Finished example; watercolor painting of violas.

I was preparing to write a post about July classes and realized I didn't share about June classes.  Oh, well it is all a work in progress anyway.  Allowing myself some grace, I will share these thoughts and photos of one of the examples I painted for class.  July class information is coming soon!  As of today, the next class is twelve days out.  The theme is going to be a really fun one to explore and I encourage everyone to play with finding their own inspiring photos.  I am off to paint a few examples and will return to share more soon.

-She must make art.


Thursday, May 30, 2024

Watercolor Class Supply List

Watercolor Supply List

Watercolor Supply List

The most basic list of watercolor supplies for any skill level.  Whether you plan to paint daily or just for bringing to a painting class, this is a description of the main items necessary for building your starter kit.  Links for some items help give you an idea of what to shop for.

 I have considered the price points for anyone who might be budget conscious. When starting out, it's wise to choose where the costs are cut and where to invest for better quality.  Start out with the staple items and maybe you'll find later that you'd like to purchase a few more after some time.  Experimenting and learning skills will help guide where you would most enjoy new supplies.

Watercolor set of pans or tubes: brands such as Pentel, Sargent, Arteza and Royal & Langnickel are good for beginners.  I use Daniel Smith and other professional grade brands.  I would choose tubes over pans.  Watercolor pigment can be sprayed to reactivate the paint for each session.  Purchase an affordable set of tubes and later if you know you want to continue with watercolors, add higher end brand watercolors a tube at a time.  I have used Reeves watercolor pigments for class purposes but it seems difficult to find now.  I have also used VanGogh watercolor pigments for class purposes and it is an excellent quality for the money. An affordable set of Pentel watercolor in tubes is linked here.  

I really do recommend purchasing a set of tubes and the palette linked in the next section.  The watercolor easily dispenses into each plastic pan.  Label each pan on the side with a fine-point permanent marker before filling with watercolor pigment.  The convenience of this set up is really great whether painting at home, on the go, outdoors, or in a class setting.

Watercolor palette examples.

Palette: a plastic palette with sections for mixing paint.  Separate wells for dispensing tube paints.  A stay-wet palette is not necessary but a cover is handy for transport.  Plastic cling film is just as useful for a cover.  If you are using pans of watercolor pigment, a white plastic lid from sour cream container will be a great money saver. A metal empty set by Loeneng in either half-pan or full-pan is affordable and great for use at home and travel.  A half-pan holds 2 ml and a full-pan holds around 5 ml pigment.

A plastic lid can be reused for mixing watercolors.

Brushes: synthetic round brushes are great for occasional painting and beginners.  Sizes 4 and 6 round brushes most necessary.  A size 2 and 8 round would be the next addition to the art stash. This Royal & Langnickel set is affordable and durable.

A variety of round brushes from my own stash.

Watercolor paper:  100% cotton, cold press, 140 lb. watercolor paper.  100% cotton means the paper will hold up to basic techniques without pilling and breaking down.  Cold press means the paper has some texture as watercolor paper is known to have; this is helpful for dry brush technique.  140 lb. weight means the thickness of the paper is enough to not buckle and warp excessively.  Affordable options are Strathmore, Kilimanjaro, and Saunders.  Strathmore watercolor paper precut to 25 sheets of 5" x 7".   I use Arches most often but it is a bit more investment.  Watercolor paper will make a big impact on what you are able to do with watercolor painting experiments. (Please avoid Canson paper as it will not hold up well and you'll be frustrated easily.)  Shown below are 5" x 7" Arches cold pressed watercolor paper in 140 lb. weight; I buy my own paper in large sheets and cut to different sizes.

Arches 140 lb. cold-pressed watercolor paper cut to 5" x 7" pieces.

A container for rinsing brushes: a plastic container saved from sour cream, a canning jar, any container for water which holds about 8 ounces of water or more.

Water containers are inexpensive and work well.

Pencil and eraser. A mechanical pencil is useful for not needing to be sharpened.  A 2B standard graphite pencil works well as well.  A kneaded artist eraser and a Pentel mechanical eraser are my most used erasers with watercolor paper. Shown here are my main go-to pencil and erasers.

My favorite pencil and eraser options used daily.

A support board and 1/2" art masking tape are necessary for working with watercolor.  I have boards cut from white flat paneling which I use for my artwork.  I do not have any for purchase and you will need to be able to have your own support board for painting at home.  Finding reasonably priced quality options for you, here are my suggestions; the Ampersand Painting Panel 1/8" thick and 9" x 12" is large enough to paint up to 8" x 10" once tape is applied.  TSSART White Art Tape with medium tack and no residue is acid-free and perfect for keeping watercolor paper rippling at a minimum.  I use the 1/4" tape for small pieces of artwork.  If painting larger, the 1/2" is perfect for a firm hold.  Here below is a photo of the board and tapes I use often.

My support board and masking tape as examples.

Optional & Additional:

I will show and demonstrate other miscellaneous materials in class which you may decide to add to your own supply stash.  These may include:  masking fluid, fine point permanent pen, Dr. Ph. Martins Bleed Proof White, calligraphy pen with nib and black India ink.

You may have other art supplies to use along with watercolors and feel free to bring them with you.  I am listing the most basic necessary supplies.  If you have other art materials you would love to experiment with, definitely bring them and play with possibilities.  Watercolor pencils, chalk pastels, oil pastels, charcoal...and more!

I have linked several options above to give examples of what to shop for in watercolor supplies.  You can find many other sources for purchasing these.  For ease, you can shop with Amazon or look for other locations.  I order from Dick Blick, Cheap Joes Art Stuff, and Jerry's Artarama for best selection and reasonable prices.  I find Hobby Lobby and Michaels to be hit and miss on pricing and selection.


Before taking a class with me, consider reading the post 24 Must-Try Watercolor Techniques and download & print the pdf PDF of Watercolor Techniques Pg. 1 and 2 .  For the pdf, it will send me a request to share and once I approve, it will be all yours!  These descriptions of techniques are really helpful in learning more about watercolor.  I have the full color visuals (shown in that post) hanging on my wall in my art room.

The visuals used for teaching watercolor techniques.

I am currently preparing the first class outline and looking forward to hosting many of you here for a watercolor class in my art space.

More information to come soon!