I’ve been a fan of Liz Steel’s work for a long time now, and she has been an instructor on a couple of courses I have taken with Sketchbook Skool, so when an artist I follow on Instagram, Patrice Sketches, posted about her experiences taking the watercolour course, I was instantly intrigued, and headed over to explore Liz’s courses.
It was a toss up between Foundations and Watercolour, I may well actually take foundations at some point too. Even though I don’t consider myself a beginner, I certainly don’t consider myself an expert, and covering the basics and revisiting them never does any harm!
In the end though, I was more drawn to learning about watercolour right now, so I opted for the watercolour course!
Week one is all about controlling water – essentially getting the water to pigment ratio right. Liz talks about how she considers there to be three main mixes – watery, juicy, and pasty. All of these mixes have a use, and it is really important to know how to get the mixes right, for whatever you are trying to express on the page.
Liz runs through several theory lessons, and then does a couple of comprehensive demos and some sketchbook tours to highlight examples, before we are asked to do some work ourselves! I have been a bit guilty in the past, of just binge watching classes trying to let all the information soak in, but not really putting 100% into the homework. So in this course I plan to really try and make the most out of it, and actually do the homework!
I must admit, my brain was aching from all the information, and I am very glad to have lifetime access to the course, because it will definitely be something I go back and revisit some more.
Exercise 1 involved exploring our palettes, and for each colour, mixing a watery, juicy and pasty mix into a colour chart. A really useful exercise even just to revisit the colours in my palette, but extra challenging to try and master those three different mixes.
I think i am pretty good at getting the juicy mixes, but the watery and pasty is more of a challenge. I am also finding that using watercolour paper is much thirstier than my usual general purpose sketchbooks, so getting the watery mix right is important.
This was a fun exercise – we were to make a simple sketch of a vegetable still life, and explore mixing juicy washes and placing them next to each other. I think my washes were more watery, but it was useful to see how the mixes layered on top of each other for darker areas, and also I used a bit of wet in wet technique to add a bit of green to the top of the banana. I thought this would add a softer edge, which it did.
I found Liz’s feedback sessions on the exercises really helpful. I haven’t gone through this class ‘live’, but it doesn’t matter as her feedback on others’ work is invaluable, and also made my brain hurt! So much to learn and to take in.
All in all a really great first week, with lots to think about and apply to my paintings. On to week two!
A note on materials I am using in this course. I usually sketch with a general purpose sketchbook, and use a waterbrush for painting. Liz recommends using watercolour paper and proper brushes, so I am making a switch from my usual set up, to incorporate proper brushes and watercolour paper!
– Escoda Travel brush set
– Hahnemuhle watercolour sketchbook (A5, landscape format)
– Watercolour paints – mix of Daniel Smith, Winsor and Newton, Jacksons art
– Lamy safari fountain pens with Rohrer and Klinger SketchInk waterproof ink