Learning From Others

I love learning new skills but my tendency is to just try to figure it out on my own. That’s fine much of the time, but I know I am missing out on skills and techniques that others have already mastered, which will give me a boost toward reaching my learning goals. Sometimes I need to take a class from someone who knows more than me, so I signed up for an online watercolor class from Mary P. Murphy through Craftsy. The class consists of video demonstration lessons, opportunity for discussion and questions, and opportunity for critique of your paintings from the instructor as well as classmates.

The first lesson was about underpainting, which is basically laying down a light coat of paint as the background for subsequent layers of paint. For my first picture, I underpainted a random background of yellow, blue and red. Once that dried, I studied the underpainting to determine what the painting would become. In an earlier post, I just called this painting a background first and then figuring out what to do with it. Now I now this technique is called “underpainting”.

I painted a bouquet of bright flowers using the areas of yellow underpainting to paint yellow flowers since it would be hard to end up with yellow flowers on a darker paint.


The second technique of underpainting was to paint four quadrants on the paper with four light shades of different colors. I chose a single object (a shell) for my subject and lightly sketched it onto my paper after the underpainting dried. In each quadrant of the underpainting the shell was painted with the complementary color of that section. For example, the complement of blue is orange. This exercise was a good brain teaser! I’d like to try more like this.


The second lesson was all about composition and size with the encouragement to paint a small painting of a flower. I chose a photo closeup of one of my tulips with sunlight behind it to paint on a paper measuring 4 1/2″ by 5″.

tulip closeup

I started out with a light yellow for the tulip and then layered it over and over trying to create the colors with light behind. I still have a lot to learn about that!


I’m excited to start the next lesson.

Are you ready to learn something new? Head over to Craftsy and find something of interest to you in painting, drawing, photography, sewing, quilting, cake decorating, knitting, crocheting, spinning, weaving, jewelry, paper crafts, gardening, woodworking. They also offer free mini-classes. (Disclaimer: I am not receiving anything for promoting Craftsy- just letting you know what’s available to help you on your creative journey.) Have fun creating!


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