My 3 Biggest Breakthroughs In Watercolor

Oct 05, 2022

When we’re trying to learn anything in life, time is the most valuable asset, and watercolor painting is no different. But there are certain lessons that, when learned early, can speed up the learning process. 

When I look back at my years of painting watercolor, I can identify three breakthrough moments that really helped me hone my skill. I am going to share these moments with you today with the hope that this will save you some valuable time on your watercolor painting journey. 

Three of my milestone moments have been:

  1. A workshop with Joseph Zbukvic taught me a lot about the importance of finding a big shape in the scene. He demonstrated to us how to paint in a connected way and to work with this large shape while it's still wet. This point in the watercolor painting process is when the magic can happen. Watching Zbukvic add darks, scratch in highlights, and treat this shape as one large shape rather than hundreds of little divided pieces changed the way I painted.
  2. A workshop with Andy Evansen helped me realize that the detail of a painting - what often receives all the credit - takes a back seat to the bigger picture stuff. If you work really hard to create detail on, say, a car, but the painting as a whole isn’t working, that car isn't even going to get noticed. It’s only when the painting as a whole works that the detail can shine.
  3. The third breakthrough is the simple realization that values are king when it comes to painting. There is no better tool to render powerful, effective paintings. If you understand values, if you understand how to accurately portray the light of the scene, to find those middle values, and to be selective on the darks that are needed in your scene, the possibilities for your paintings are endless. Your paintings will work if your values work. 

I hope that sharing these three breakthrough moments will nudge you in the right direction in your learning and save you some time. 


Keep working, keep moving forward in your painting, and I will see you next time!


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