Monday Watercolor Studio Online

Monday, July 13, 2020

Broadening Composition Concepts

I’m planning on spending our online classes between now and the end of July working on composition.  Specifically, we’re going to indulge those impulses that lead us into carving up our paintings into small bits of shape – or worse, into individual objects! Hopefully, we’ll come out the far end knowing how to divide space – not objects – into pleasing, dynamic paintings.

Pre-Class Assignment:

1) Paint a still life that includes transparent glass and some other reflective objects.  See the image below. The best thing would be to set up a still life that includes these things and work from direct observation.

2) Once you’ve completed the painting, do a thumbnail sketch of the painting (no larger than postcard size) duplicating the values as you painted them.  You can use pencil or watercolor for this and all thumbnails.

3) Create 4 thumbnail line drawings (no values added) of your painting, and one larger(at least 7 x 11) unpainted layout of the still life.  Bring these with you to class on Monday.


Monday, July 6, 2020

Plein Air week!

We’ll be working en plein air this week – barring a bad weather forecast.

The location is on Indian Massacre Road in Hoosick New York.  Download directions and map here.   The location has a great view of a distant farm, equipment, open fields, trees, hills and mountains.  The area is open, so if it is sunny, there is not much in the way of shade. Bring a hat, water, bug spray and any thing else you’ll need for plein air painting.

If the forecast changes for the worse, we’ll do a Zoom class.  For that I want you to paint a still life that includes transparent glass and some other reflective objects.  See the image at left.

The best thing would be to set up a still life that includes these things and work from direct observation. 

Once you’ve completed the painting, do a thumbnail sketch – in pencil or watercolor – of the painting, duplicating the values as you painted them.

For class: create 4 thumbnail line drawings (no values added) of your painting, and another unpainted layout of the still life.

Hope to see you in person on Monday!

Repair and Refit - watercolor plein air painting by Tony ConnerMonday, June 29, 2020

‘Thesis Week 2’

Very excellent work from everyone last week integrating a process of exploration and planning into your painting habit.  I hope you’ll continue with it.

For this week, you’ll really want to use this process since the assignment will probably challenge your thinking in more ways than one.

Beyond process, I’ll want you to consciously decide on a main subject and main focus for your painting.

Pre-class work:

  1. Pick an older, less than successful work
  2. Decide what made you want to paint this – this should lead you to the ONE main subject and the aspects of that subject that attracted you.
  4. Explore the subject with thumbnail line drawings (no value shapes created yet).  Start by placing your main subject in a visually attractive location (remember golden means and golden sections).  Make at least 4 versions of this thumbnail (if you need 400 to get a great composition, do that many!)
  5. After placing the main subject, place the other objects around it – they should be placed where they can support and draw focus to the main subject, not necessarily where they happen to be in reality.
  6. After making at least four of these,  pick the one that seems the most pleasing to the eye and really focuses attention on the main subject.
  7. Make at least four copies of this line drawing – tracing them is fine.
  8. Now add value to the composition. Concentrate on separating the picture plane into three areas: foreground, middle ground, and background. Assign a value to each – light, middle, dark.  Explore at least four arrangements (or up to 400, if necessary… ).  Remember that strong contrasts will draw the eye – save the strongest value contrast for your main subject.
  9. Again, pick the one thumbnail that is the most pleasing to the eye and focuses attention on the main subject.
  10. Make four more copies of the line thumbnail  – on watercolor paper this time.
  11. Create color thumbnail studies.  Contrasts of chroma and temperature also draw the eye.  Use these, along with value to bring focus to your main subject.
  12. Which color thumbnail has the most dynamic composition and also brings the most attention to the main subject?  Select that one for the next steps.
  13. Draw two copies the composition you selected in step 9 on larger pieces of watercolor paper.
  14. Paint one, following your value and color thumbnails.  Bring this one to class on Monday along with the un-painted version.
  15. Is there something else in your painting that could be the main subject?  Think about that for Monday’s work.

I’ve scouted several locations for a plein air session on Monday, July 6th – two in W’town/N. Adams area; two in Pownal Vermont area.  More on that, next Monday.

Have fun!



Monday, June 22, 2020

It week one of ‘Thesis Week’

You have a lot of freedom this week – and will next week as well. You can chose any subject you like, preferably one you’ve worked on before but without success.

This is your chance to make it a success!

You all have the knowledge and tools to make a success of the painting. It’s a matter gathering the knowledge, practicing it, and having confidence.

Pre-class assignment:
Find an older work or a sketch you have worked on in the past, but perhaps not been happy with.
Take a careful, studied and methodical approach to the work.
Explore the subject with value thumbnails and color studies. Make notes during this part of the process to remind yourself of what works, and what’s not.
Transfer the work to a larger piece of paper. Take a deep breath!

For Monday; bring the finished painting, thumbnails and notes. Also have a some LINE DRAWING ONLY copies of the thumbnails on drawing paper and a few on watercolor paper. Also have another drawing layout of the full size painting.

Have fun!


Monday, June 15, 2020

In this weeks class, we’ll see how the masters did it!

We’ll take the work of an accomplished artist and use it as an instructive lesson in showing light as well as distance in a painting.

Pre-class assignment:
1) Find a painting you admire – a landscape or seascape is best. This will be easier if it’s a watercolor but can be any medium. 

2) Take a close look at how the artist used changes in value, temperature and chroma to create the illusion of distance in the painting.  Write out notes on what you see in the painting using these guidelines:

3) Copy the selected painting on watercolor paper and paint it. Focus especially on re-creating the value, temperature and chroma effects used byt the artist to show space and distance.

4) Make a second, pencil layout only copy of the composition to work on in class.

Have fun! 

Suggested Materials: I recommend a basic set of watercolor materials for this class. Download from my website using the link below.

Click here to download a comprehensive list of basic watercolor materials and supplies



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Watercolor Studio Meets Online Via Zoom.  Each week’s class will be announced by email. Once you have RSVP’d, I’ll forward the Zoom meeting information for the week. 

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