Watercolor Jumpstart – New

Watercolor Jumpstart (and Introduction to Watercolor)

This page contains videos, project templates and handouts for my 6-week beginner watercolor course, Watercolor Jumpstart. Jumpstart introduces basic watercolor materials, terminology and skills in the context of 6 fun and easy little paintings.

 

(Note: Introduction to Watercolor consists of the first two projects from Watercolor Jumpstart.)

Jumpstart has been completely revised for Fall of 2016! To make the class more fun, and help you see how your new skills can be used, each class is now designed around a little painting project.

Watercolor Jumpstart is the right beginner watercolor course for you if—

  • you’ve never tried watercolor before
  • you’ve dabbled a little with friends or in a class once upon a time, but don’t feel ready to start painting on your own
  • you tried to learn from a book or video, but would have liked to see demonstrations of the techniques
  • you’ve tried some watercolor but would like an organized review of the fundamentals

Each project in Watercolor Jumpstart is carefully designed to introduce specific fundamental watercolor skills—and to avoid frustrating complications—so you can move forward in manageable steps. Completing all 6 projects gives you an introduction to the basics of watercolor and enough hands-on experience to successfully continue learning from books, videos and friends.

(If you’ve been painting in watercolor for a while, but find it difficult to go beyond copying a photo or following a step-by-step project, you may want take Watercolor Skill-Builder, which is aimed at helping you with planning more creative and personal projects of your own.)

A Word about Expectations and Practice

Watercolor is like learning a musical instrument—it takes practice! Or, as I like to say in class, “you gotta put mileage on the brush!”  The materials on this page are intended for students in the class to repeat and review class exercises and projects. (And also provided free for anyone to use for self-study.)

The first time through a project is like the first time you read through a piece of music. You’re fumbling around with the tougher passages. You mess up the timing. But that’s okay; the first time through is just to get the general idea. You know it takes repeated practice to play a piece well! The same is true for painting.

Professional musicians reach the point where they can sight-read and improvise. Professional painters reach the point where they can (sometimes) produce a credible painting on the first go.  But that takes a LOT of practice, so please be fair to yourself in your expectations. Keep practicing, cultivate a spirit of fun and curiosity, and you’ll probably surprise yourself.

If you’re not happy with your first attempt at a project, that’s normal. Just give it another try! All the class exercises and project demonstrations are provided for you here to practice . So, grab your supplies and put some mileage on your brush!

Oh, and, just so you know, there are lots of possible ways to approach watercolor. If this doesn’t look exactly like what another instructor has shown you, it doesn’t mean one way or the other is wrong. In the interests of getting you painting quickly, there is a lot that I’ve simplified or glossed over in these introductory projects and lessons.

Often, the lesson videos show just enough about a topic to get you through the project and enable you to understand other books and videos that may give more information. If you already have a way of doing something that works for you, or you find the perfect solution for you in a different book or video, feel free to use it!

Preliminaries

These short preliminary lessons will help you get your materials set up and ready to paint.

If you are using this page for self-study or want to continue painting outside of class, you can download the materials list for Watercolor Jumpstart by clicking here.

How to Tear Watercolor Paper

You will need:

a sheet of 140 lb watercolor paper
clean flat surface
a plastic jar lid approx 3-4 inches in diameter

How to Make a Painting Support Board

You will need:

a piece of corrugated cardboard at least 1″ larger in each direction than the paper you intend to paint on
roll of clear packing tape
scissors or knife for cutting tape

How to Properly Rinse (and Care For) Your Brush

You will need:

a watercolor brush
small terry towel or washcloth
water container around 1 pt to 1 qt size

How to Set Up Your Workspace

You will need:

supplies listed in the Required Materials list for Watercolor Jumpstart

How to Make and Apply Vibrant, Juicy Color

You will need:

supplies listed in the Required Materials list for Watercolor Jumpstart, set up and ready to paint
a 1/8th (one-eighth) sheet (7 1/2 x 11″) of watercolor paper for the project, taped to your support board

Project 1—Spring Chickadee

brush drawing of chickadee with crabapple blossoms
Introduction to Watercolor—Spring Chickadee Project

Supplies You Will Need:

  • supplies listed in the Required Materials list for Watercolor Jumpstart, set up and ready to paint
  • template for the Mechanics of Mixing lesson, downloaded and printed out (see below)
  • template for the Spring Chickadee project, downloaded and printed out (see below)
  • pencil and kneaded eraser
  • woodless pencil (optional, but handy) or a regular pencil
  • a 1/16th (one-sixteenth, 5 1/2 x 7 1/2″) sheets of watercolor paper for the project, taped to your support board
  • at least 5 1/16th (one-sixteenth, 5 1/2 x 7 1/2″) sheets of watercolor paper for the project lessons
  • at least one extra support board for project lessons (so you can leave your actual project taped down until it’s dry
  • several scrap pieces of watercolor paper for testing and practicing colors and brushstrokes (if you are just starting out you may not have any such “scraps” yet; but as you go along save all your exercise and practice sheets and use the backs as your “test sheets”)
click here to download the Mechanics of Mixing lesson template

Note: Set your printer to “no scaling” or “print actual size” instead of “fill page” to print the templates at the correct size for your watercolor paper.

click here to download the right-handed Spring Chickadee Project template
click here to download the left-handed Spring Chickadee Project template

Note: Set your printer to “no scaling” or “print actual size” instead of “fill page” to print the templates at the correct size for your watercolor paper.

Project Prerequisites:

  • all lessons in the Preliminaries section above

Project Lessons

Before we begin the project, the three videos below will give us an introduction to the new skills we will need:

How to Transfer a Drawing to Watercolor Paper

The Mechanics of Mixing

How to Spatter Watercolor Paint


Now we’re ready to tackle our first project!

Spring Chickadee Project Video

A Few More Similar Examples for Inspiration

 

Project 2—Marbles in the Sun

 

watercolor painting of three marbles in the sunlight
Introduction to Watercolor—Marbles in the Sun Project

 

 

Supplies You Will Need:

  • supplies listed in the Required Materials list for Watercolor Jumpstart set up and ready to paint
  • template for the Shadows and Highlights lesson, downloaded and printed out (see below)
  • template for the project, downloaded and printed out (see below)
  • pencil and kneaded eraser
  • woodless pencil (optional, but handy) or a regular pencil
  • a 1/16th (one-sixteenth, 5 1/2 x 7 1/2″) sheet of watercolor paper for the project, taped to your support board
  • at least 5 1/16th (one-sixteenth, 5 1/2 x 7 1/2″) sheets of watercolor paper for the project lessons
  • at least one extra support board for project lessons (so you can leave your actual project taped down until it’s dry
  • several scrap pieces of watercolor paper for testing and practicing colors and brushstrokes (if you are just starting out you may not have any such “scraps” yet; but as you go along save all your exercise and practice sheets and use the backs as your “test sheets”)
click here to download the Shadows and Highlights lesson template

Note: Set your printer to “no scaling” or “print actual size” instead of “fill page” to print the templates at the correct size for your watercolor paper.

click here to download the template for the Marbles in the Sun project

Note: Set your printer to “no scaling” or “print actual size” instead of “fill page” to print the templates at the correct size for your watercolor paper.

Project Prerequisites:

  • all lessons in the Preliminaries section
  • How to Transfer a Drawing lesson from the Spring Chickadee Project
  • Mechanics of Mixing lesson from the Spring Chickadee Project

Project Lessons

Before we begin the project, the three videos below will give us an introduction to the new skills we will need:

Achieving Soft Edges in Watercolor

Introduction to Shadows and Highlights in Watercolor

Marbles in the Sun Project Video

Project 3—Rainbow Rose Window

Rainbow Rose Window project completed.
Watercolor Jumpstart – Rainbow Rose Window Project

Okay, so it’s a color wheel. 🙂  But it’s still fun—and pretty!

Supplies You Will Need:

  • supplies listed in the Required Materials list for Watercolor Jumpstart set up and ready to paint
  • template for the project, downloaded and printed out (see below)
  • labelled template for the project, to help you keep track of the steps, downloaded and printed out (optional)
  • pencil and kneaded eraser
  • woodless pencil (optional, but handy) or a regular pencil
  • a 7 1/2 x 7 1/2″ sheet of watercolor paper* for the project, taped to your support board
  • a 1/16th (one-sixteenth, 5 1/2 x 7 1/2″) sheet of watercolor paper for the project lesson
  • at least one extra support board for project lessons (so you can leave your actual project taped down until it’s dry
  • several scrap pieces of watercolor paper for testing and practicing colors and brushstrokes (if you are just starting out you may not have any such “scraps” yet; but as you go along save all your exercise and practice sheets and use the backs as your “test sheets”)

*To tear this size, start with a 1/8th sheet (7 1/2 x 11″) and tear a strip off one end to leave a 7 1/2 x 7 1/2″ square. The long strip will be handy for testing colors!

click here to download the Rainbow Rose Window project template.

Note: Set your printer to “no scaling” or “print actual size” instead of “fill page” to print the templates at the correct size for your watercolor paper.

click here to download the labelled version of the template for reference while you paint

Note: Set your printer to “no scaling” or “print actual size” instead of “fill page” to print the templates at the correct size for your watercolor paper.

Project Prerequisites:

  • all lessons in the Preliminaries section
  • How to Transfer a Drawing lesson from the Spring Chickadee Project
  • Mechanics of Mixing lesson from the Spring Chickadee Project

Project Lesson

Blending Color Within a Shape

Rainbow Rose Window Project Video

Some additional designs with 6-fold symmetry, just for fun

Project 4—Dawn & Dusk at the Lake

Project 4 - Dawn and Dusk at the Lake: two small paintings of a fisherman on a foggy morning and a heron in the shallows at sunset.
Project 4 – Dawn and Dusk at the Lake

Supplies You Will Need:

  • supplies listed in the Required Materials list for Watercolor Jumpstart set up and ready to paint
  • templates for the project, downloaded and printed out (see below)
  • pencil and kneaded eraser
  • woodless pencil (optional, but handy) or a regular pencil
  • two 1/16th (one-sixteenth, 5 1/2 x 7 1/2″) sheets of watercolor paper for the project
  • two support boards, so you can leave your projects taped down as you alternate working on them
  • at least one extra support board for project lessons
  • 5 1/16th (one-sixteenth, 5 1/2 x 7 1/2″) sheets of watercolor paper for the lesson on laying washes
  • 2-3 more 1/16 sheets, or the backs of other practice paintings for the lesson on techniques for trees
  • several scrap pieces of watercolor paper for testing and practicing colors and brushstrokes (if you are just starting out you may not have any such “scraps” yet; but as you go along save all your exercise and practice sheets and use the backs as your “test sheets”)
  • a rigger (liner) brush or a dip pen with a drawing nib (optional)
Download File

Note: Set your printer to “no scaling” or “print actual size” instead of “fill page” to print the templates at the correct size for your watercolor paper.

Download File

Note: Set your printer to “no scaling” or “print actual size” instead of “fill page” to print the templates at the correct size for your watercolor paper.

Project Prerequisites:

  • all lessons in the Preliminaries section
  • How to Transfer a Drawing lesson from the Spring Chickadee Project
  • Mechanics of Mixing lesson from the Spring Chickadee Project
  • Achieving Soft Edges lesson from the Marbles on the Sun Project
  • Blending Color within a Shape lesson from the Rainbow Rose Window Project

Project Lessons

Laying Flat and Graduated Washes

5 Techniques for Trees in Watercolor

Dawn & Dusk at the Lake Project Video

A Few More Examples for Inspiration

Now that you know the process, you can create many paintings of your own. Simply combine an interesting wash with some recognizable silhouettes, and arrange things on the page in a pleasing manner. No need for details!

The sense of “detail” in the trees in some of these paintings is a result of more than one layer of stamping with banding film, sponging and/or brushwork. The clouds were created by making a few quick brushstrokes while the underlying wash was still wet and allowing them to blend (if you need help with this, watch the lesson video “Achieving Soft Edges” from the Marbles in the Sun Project.

Project 5—Daisies in a Jar

Supplies You Will Need:

  • supplies listed in the Required Materials list for Watercolor Jumpstart set up and ready to paint
  • templates for the project, downloaded and printed out (see below)
  • pencil and kneaded eraser
  • woodless pencil (optional, but handy) or a regular pencil
  • three 1/16th (one-sixteenth, 5 1/2 x 7 1/2″) sheets and one 1/8th (one-eighth, 7 1/2 x 11″) sheet of watercolor paper for the project lessons
  • two support boards, so you can leave your projects taped down as you alternate working on them
  • one 8×11″ sheet of watercolor paper for the project. (This is slightly wider than a 1/8th sheet. Fold your paper not quite in half, as shown in the diagram below.)
  • several scrap pieces of watercolor paper for testing and practicing colors and brushstrokes
  • masking fluid (liquid frisket), bar of soap, masking fluid pickup, inexpensive brush for applying masking fluid (these will be supplied in class)
Click here to download the Daisies project template. Click here to download the Daisies reference photo.

Click here to download the labelled template showing where to apply resists.
Project Prerequisites:

  • all lessons in the Preliminaries section
  • How to Transfer a Drawing lesson from the Spring Chickadee Project
  • Mechanics of Mixing lesson from the Spring Chickadee Project
  • Blending Color within a Shape lesson from the Rainbow Rose Window Project
  • Laying Flat and Graduated Washes lesson from the Dawn & Dusk at the Lake Project
  • 5 Techniques for Suggesting Trees lesson from the Dawn & Dusk at the Lake Project

Project Lessons

Reserving Whites and Lights, Part 1—Intentional Blooms

Reserving Whites and Lights, Part 2—Lifting Wet and Dry Watercolor

Reserving Whites and Lights, Part 3—Negative Painting

Reserving Whites and Lights, Part 4—Using Resists

Daisies in a Jar Project Video

Project 6—Introduction to Line & Wash (coming soon)

Supplies You Will Need:

  • supplies listed in the Required Materials list for Watercolor Jumpstart set up and ready to paint
  • watersoluble pen, marker or pencil (most gel pens work, or a watercolor pencil or watercolor marker will also work; you can easily test a pen by making a mark, letting it dry and drawing a wet brush over it to see if the color will dissolve)
  • waterproof pen (e.g. ultrafine Sharpie, Pigma micron, Staedtler Linemarker, Pitt Artist Pen, or a ballpoint (not gel) pen will work)
  • pencil and kneaded eraser
  • two 1/16th (one-sixteenth, 5 1/2 x 7 1/2″) sheets and one 1/8th (one-eighth, 7 1/2 x 11″) sheet of watercolor paper for the project lessons
  • two support boards, so you can leave your projects taped down as you alternate working on them
  • one 8×11″ sheet of watercolor paper for the project. (This is slightly wider than a 1/8th sheet. Fold your paper not quite in half, as shown in the diagram below.)
  • several scrap pieces of watercolor paper for testing and practicing colors and brushstrokes

Project Prerequisites:

  • all lessons in the Preliminaries section
  • Mechanics of Mixing lesson from the Spring Chickadee Project

Project Lessons

Line & Wash, Part 1—Watersoluble Line

Line & Wash, Part 2—Waterproof Line