Originally written in 2015, Painting with Watercolors for Beginners is one of the most popular articles on this blog. In the seven years since I wrote that article, I have wanted to make an online watercolor course. One thing always stopped me: I knew it would be a colossal undertaking. You have to cover a lot of ground to set someone up for success with the medium. Ideally, someone should finish a course knowing how to blend, mix, and contour. Beyond that, I wanted my students to know how to tackle challenges like skin tones, textures (e.g. brick), and knowing when a painting is complete. I’m proud to say that The Ultimate Beginner’s Watercolor Online Course fulfills all of those goals and more!
How the Ultimate Beginner’s Watercolor Online Course Developed
Over the years, I’ve had a lot of fun creating watercolor tutorials, like the botanical letter project below, for the TPK Blog. No matter how detailed a tutorial is, though, it’s tough to cover all of the watercolor basics in it. A person just about has to have experience with watercolor in order to paint something like that “B”.
As I painted my way through more and more tutorials, I realized that I really should invest some time in making a course.
After the birth of my second child in February, I was shocked to realize that I had a lot of free time. Newborn Pia slept peacefully and often (that was not my experience with my first child!), and I suddenly had the chance to plan a curriculum and make instructional videos. In short: the course finally came to fruition because of a calm baby.
What to Expect From the New Course
With 10+ hours of video lessons, The Ultimate Beginner’s Watercolor Online Course is the most content-packed course on this website. All video lessons require you to complete homework assignments, so you can expect to devote 25 hours or more to the videos plus your homework. While you could finish the course in a month, a more realistic goal is three months. But, you have all the time you need: your access to the learning material never expires.
Once you finish up the course, you’ll understand all of the basics of watercolor painting and beyond. Lessons 1-4 focus on your development from brand-new beginner to an intermediate level. Then, Lessons 4-9 use detailed projects to morph you from an intermediate learner into a watercolorist who has the knowledge to use multiple techniques.
If you’re curious about the course format, please watch the video below:
What About Supplies?
The course requires a few key supplies:
- Set of 24 student grade watercolors (preferably Winsor & Newton Cotman, but anything works)
- Watercolor paper – try for cold press 140 lb.
- Ziller Soot Black waterproof ink
- Straight pen + Nikko G nib
- Two sizes of watercolor paintbrushes (size 0 and size 3)
- Pencil + eraser (a mechanical pencil is best)
- Blunt art syringe or a small spoon to moisten watercolors
- Cleaning cloth or a paper towel
- Art water cup – any cup works
- Optional but recommended: Multi-media sketchbook such as Shinola, illo*, or Strathmore* (*affiliate links)
Many TPK readers might already have at least a few of those supplies at home. In that case, simply source the items you’re missing — they’re all important for success in the course! If you prefer, you can purchase a readymade kit from TPK. It includes everything you’ll need to get started … just add water.
GET THE ULTIMATE BEGINNER’S WATERCOLOR KIT
Other Things to Note
As the mother of two young children, I recognize how important it is to be able to go at your own pace. My advice is to plan times that you can allocate to watching course videos and completing homework. For example, maybe you dedicate Tuesdays from 7:00 PM – 8:30 PM and Fridays from 1:00 PM – 4:00 PM to your watercolor learning. If you have a standing date with yourself, you’ll stay on track. Your access to the course never expires, so feel free to take your time.
There are many different styles of watercolor painting. I tend to favor a detailed, storybook-style look, so that’s what most of the projects focus on. You will experiment with a looser style of painting when we create patterns, lavender, and a starry sky in Lesson 3.
Illustration Skill Building
In order to create most of the projects, you’ll need to draw a pencil draft first. My favorite way to build a draft is to trace the basics from a reference photo (using a light box, a computer screen, or a bright window), then freehand draw to fill in the details. In my experience, tracing helps to cultivate freehand drawing skills. For that reason, your course worksheet includes both reference photos and “cheat sheet” drafts of those reference photos that you’re welcome to trace over. If you prefer to freehand draw, go for it!
All video lessons in The Ultimate Beginner’s Watercolor Online Course are on-demand. When you have questions, I encourage you to ask them in the Lesson Discussion at the bottom of the lesson that you’re working on. I’ll always answer within 24 hours.
If you have any questions about this new course, let me know in the comments (or email me: [email protected])! If you’re beyond a watercolor beginner level, remember: there are a lot of inspiring free tutorials on the TPK blog to jumpstart your creativity. Thanks so much for reading, and we’ll reconvene this weekend with a fresh new watercolor tutorial!