Tips for Teaching Watercolor

One thing that really helped me to be a better watercolour teacher is this: They want me to tell them how to paint.

Sounds simple, but it can be really hard to give constructive input and offer intervention when a student’s painting is going awry. I don’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings, and so in the early years of teaching, I struggled with knowing how to handle my students’ messes.

Now I have a few strategies. For common mistakes, it helps to do a little “what not to do” demonstration. One thing many students do is to paint an outline before filling an area with flat colour. The outline dries faster than the fill, and you end up with a hard edge where no hard edge should be. Demonstrating a better technique (working from one side of the section to the other) and explaining why we don’t outline helps most to remember to avoid this mistake.

Other times I need to reach into the painting with my own brush and show a solution. I’m learning that there are solutions for most troubled paintings, even if they are beyond any possibility of masterpiece. And there are always “yes” areas, even in a painting that looks like a disaster. It’s my job as teacher to encourage the student while guiding them to good technique and improved skill.

I’ve got some ideas for videos and no time to record them! Hoping that I can show new watercolour more often on this site. This week I’m also starting drawing classes for some local homeschoolers, which will be tons of fun! If you haven’t seen it already, I recommend my “Five Stroke Berries” video for some watercolour inspiration.

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