Colorful Geometric Watercolor Art | Emily Keating Snyder | Skillshare

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Colorful Geometric Watercolor Art

teacher avatar Emily Keating Snyder, LA based mixed media artist

Watch this class and thousands more

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Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Watch this class and thousands more

Get unlimited access to every class
Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Lessons in This Class

9 Lessons (36m)
    • 1. Introduction

    • 2. Supplies

    • 3. Mixing Colors

    • 4. Mark Making Ideas

    • 5. Grid Art History!

    • 6. Drawing a Grid

    • 7. Creating Pattern on a Grid

    • 8. Final Project

    • 9. Thanks for joining!

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About This Class


An easy watercolor intro with colorful LA artist and designer Emily Keating Snyder

In this class you'll learn how to:
+Mix colors
+Create ombre gradients
+Try out forms of mark making
+Use restrictions to get more creative
+Gather the best supplies

I'll also share some info on the art historical concepts and inspirations involved with this grid-based style of making art. Watercolor skills will be improved, but just as importantly, we'll use abstract geometric painting as a way to relax and approach creativity in a fun, no-pressure way that allows for happy mistakes.

In the class project, I'll take you step-by-step to create a colorful watercolor painting on paper. It's a simple concept that allows for infinite possibilities. Take a peek at the class project to learn more!

Meet Your Teacher

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Emily Keating Snyder

LA based mixed media artist


My happiest place is tinkering in the studio. The smell of paint. All the textures of different materials. The satisfaction of trying something new, even (especially) when it doesn’t work. My sketchbook takes the form of a million scraps of paper with more messy notes to myself than actual sketches. In life and in my work, I’m constantly seeking organization, simplicity and order then letting it all go in favor of curiosity and play.

My artwork has been featured on designlovefest, SF Girl By Bay, Parachute Home and Alexandra Gater. Join my email list for 15% off your first art print order. You can sign up and learn more about my work at

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1. Introduction: I I'm Emily. I'm a fine artist and designer living in Los Angeles. In this class, I'm gonna show you how to make abstract geometric watercolor art on a grid one because it looks really cool. And two, because it's an awesome way to loosen up creative blocks and play with watercolor and mark making in a no pressure way are simple. Project will be a great one for beginners, but also for those who are already working in watercolor and want to incorporate some fresh ideas or have a fun way to break through a creative block. You'll also get a mini art history less. And as we talk about some famous artists who use grids and their work, so let's get into the project now. 2. Supplies: to get started. Let's gather materials first will need paper. There's always an overwhelming amount of options when it comes to paper, but if you are just getting started in water color, the best thing is just to get £140.300 GSM paper. I like to work with cold press paper, and my favorite brands are Can Seuin and another brand called fluid. Both can be found applique. Today. I'm gonna be using nine by 12 sheet, but you can go bigger or smaller, whatever you like. Next, we'll need paint. If you have a dry watercolor pan, you can go ahead and use that. I prefer using watercolor in concentrated liquid form like Dr Ph Martin's. And again, if you're just getting started with watercolor, it's kind of a big investment. So just buying with three primary colors red, yellow and blue would be a good way to go. I also love ones. Aaron Newton, Cotman Water Color in tubes, which I have several colors of. Next up, you'll need brushes. I like to have a few on hand for this project. It works well to have a thin, round brush a thicker around one an angled brush and a flat one. But if you don't have a ton of brushes for this project, you can definitely just use a thin round brush. You'll also need a mixing trade. A small water dish. Ah, water cup for rinsing brushes, water, a pencil, a ruler or two. A rag or tell on your favorite coffee your teeth to sip as you paint. Once you have your supplies ready, skip to the next video and we'll go over mixing colors. 3. Mixing Colors: Now let's open up our paints and get to mixing colors first. If you haven't seen a color real since elementary school, this is your color rule. We have red, orange, yellow, green, blue and purple, obviously, and color order. And as you might remember, the primary colors are red, yellow and blue, and then the secondary colors are orange, green and purple. That's because red and yellow make orange, yellow and blue, green and blue and red make purple. So let's get started mixing our actual pink colors when adding colors to the grid and choosing our colors. We want to have a variety of colors that blend together, and the way to do that is to keep the colors together that are in the same family on the color wheel, so colors that go next to each other. For example, if you wanted to keep it really simple, you could use red, orange and yellow as a group of colors or yellow, green and blue as a group of colors, mixing two primary colors and the secondary color that they make. But with my pieces, I like to have a little more variation in color. It gives it more depth and dimension and interest. Um, one example is like this blue and purple and pink piece. It's not just one shade of blue or one shade of purple. There's a bunch of different variations in the middle, and same with this one. There are several different oranges, different all those different things and different purples that all blend together to make this kind of hombre tight. I look that we're going for. So today I'm going to use the colors that go together on the wheel, which would be blue, purple and think. But to give it more variety, I'm gonna mix some colors in between. So I'll have kind of a purple lee blue and then kind of a purple lee pink and on then even , uh, to take it further. I'll have kind of a pinkish orange, keeping in mind that I don't want my orange and my blue to touch or go together, but to still have elements of both in my crib, and you can follow it along. Use these colors, or if you want to use your own colors, just keep in mind that you still want them to go sort of an order on the color wheel as they would touch each others. So, for example, if you wanted to do something greeny, bluey yellow kind of family, you would mix up a yellow agreeing a blue on, then some colors in between. So, like a yellow green and blue ecri to kind of give it more variation. So to start out, I've already put some blue and some few chef, which is obviously a little bit of a purple itoen pink. On that, I'm going to continue putting a couple of drops of each solid color right out of the tube or bottle into my tray and when you're using from the tubes, but only takes a little bit. Uh, but it since we're covering the whole grade, you might wanna make sure you have enough paint to finish your whole project, that you won't have to mix more colors. And for this to get started, we're keeping all the colors completely separate in their own Well, okay, and one more important tool that I wanted to mention is an eye dropper. This is great for adding water to the paint that comes out of the tubes, so just that a couple of drops, a little splash to add some water color. From then, I like to have a few brushes ready so that I can devote kind of one to each color. Sometimes I have four ready to go and from mixing colors, I like to use one that kind of round at the top, not like a square one. They just kind of mix the colors more easily, so mixed together to get the pain to the right consistency, This special kind of for the orange, this will be radish, spring colors and for people. So now we have our each of our solid colors right out of the tube on their own, and we're going to mix up some colors that will go in between. So, for example, if we want our sunset pink, which is like a hot pink and our orange to go together, will take a little bit of the orange, scoop up some drops and then to have into the pink and mix those together in the same or this rosy pink mix this year, take a couple of drops and then take some of that orange and put it right. Mix those together and you have again more rosy pink orange. - It's okay if the colors don't need to be exactly perfect. It's OK for a little bit. Blue gets into the Tripoli pink or a little bit of orange gets in to this one. Like I said, we want variety, So I think it will. You're not really pretty if there's more and more color, so if they don't have to be perfectly separate. 4. Mark Making Ideas: Now that we have our colors mixed and ready to go, I'm going to take you through how to make some lines and marks. First, let's start out with a thin brush. It doesn't have to be super thing. Just make sure that the very tip of it comes to a really fine point. Um, and we're gonna practice making some blended color lights, so get your brush a little bit wet, and then let's just get the feel of making some thin line. So I'm going to use the purple, get a little bit of color on there, and then just let really lightly make somethin lines. So I'm not. If I were pushing all the way down on the paintbrush would make kind of a wider line. Um, so I'm keeping it kind of a light touch to keep the lines really thin, and you can go super light and make this very, very thin line, and now I'll show you how to blend in some other colors in the light. So we'll go back to that probably blue, and then start making some lines and then we'll stop this line about halfway through and with blue still on the end of the paintbrush will dip into this pinky red color and kind of start a little bit back in the blue line and finish up the line with that red and see. There's so much blue that it actually kind of stays blue. But if we keep dipping into the red, it will kind of transition and make a purple color and then fully go into the pink. And as you're changing colors, remember, you still want to stay within the same color family on the wheel, so blue and pink make purple. So it works that we make some blue lines and then mixing in the pink kind of creates the purple and then goes back to pink. So it's all within one family that all runs off the brush and do the same thing with yellow , blue and green. So starting with some yellow lines and then if I dip into a tiny bit of blue and just go in there and finish that line, it makes kind of, ah, yellowy green blue for a little while. And then I keep dipping into the blue and it totally changes to blue, and now we can try the same thing with a wider brush, so I'll get the brush a little bit. What? I'll dip into the yellow and make some wider lines and then maybe dip into a little bit of green. Come back here and at the green lines and then start transitioning into the blue. And you might want to try making these lines with different shapes and sizes of brushes. This is an angled brush, so that will create kind of a different line. You could make thin lines going this way or wider lines going like this. You can try it with a really thick brush like this time, and we'll see what we get. Do a little turquoise stripe and these air kind of much more loose fluid lines because the brush is so big. But you can still do the same technique. Tap into the blue and pick up some of that and then keep transitioning into the turquoise. And now we can have some fun and try out all different kinds of little patterns and dashes that you might want to do. Uh, I like to do really graphic kind of lines and angles, shapes and again you can transition the color. So we're in pink here. I pick up a little bit of the bluish purple and can start making more marks, that kind of transition into the next color. So in this part, I would encourage you to just take a few minutes and kind of block out. Any thoughts of that are telling you you need toe, make something a certain way and just kind off and just kind of mess around with the colors and the brushes and see what kind of patterns you come up with. And this is just totally experimental, so there's no rules at all here. We're just playing with some mark making. And again, if you try out different brushes kind of a more rounded thin brush or an angled brush, they'll all kind of make their own shapes and sizes, so it's fun to check out which each of them will do. And if you're transitioning a color like I'm going from blue into purple and now trying to get into pink and there's so much blue that I'm not getting to that pink so I can clean off my brush a little bit and then go into the pink kind of fresh, and then I will give me more of a pure color. Keep on playing with your colors and patterns and think about what you might like to use in your good. 5. Grid Art History!: So now you have your colors all mix, and you have different line options to incorporate into your grid pattern. And I mentioned earlier that working on a grid can be a good way to loosen up creativity. The reason I say that is because a lot of times, as you know, if you step into your studio and you just have endless options, it can be a little tricky to figure out exactly what to make. And it can often stall is for making anything. So setting up a grid and having some sort of rule or guidelines that you have to work within gives you something to push back against which a lot of artists talk about being kind of the key to creativity that you need a little something to rebel against. Um, and so making a grid is a good way to do that, because it gives you this really literally very small space toe work in, and you have to use your imagination and your creativity. Teoh fill in that space in an unexpected way. I also mentioned there are a lot of famous artists, especially in the 20th century, who worked this way, worked on a grid, and it wasn't necessarily for them to break a creative block. But still, working within rules and guidelines of geometry and grids was a big part of their work, and those would include Saliou. It, who was famous for for Rule based art and also Frank Stella. Agnes Martin and other artists were really famous for working geometric shapes. Another, maybe the most famous person whose work is done on a grid is truck close and the grid. It's really interesting because it kind of breaks down this big, overwhelming project into just small pieces that you can work on. So rather than working on a huge painting at once, you're just working within the small little area to fill it in. So there are lots of artists who worked on grids this way. Onda created geometric art using lines and shapes and and almost like a geometric formula. Um, and if you want to learn more about artists who worked on grids or artists who use rule based or instruction based art, I will link to a couple of articles below in the project, and you can read more about that 6. Drawing a Grid: Yea, not some to make our cred. So we're gonna take our watercolor paper again. It's £140.300 GSM paper and you'll notice there's kind of, AH, rough side or more texture inside and then that the other side is more smooth to me, it doesn't really make a difference, but today we're going to use the tech streetside. So if we want to make, uh, really simple grid, the easiest thing to do is just to measure out in inches. If you want to make more intricate, really precise grid, you could make the human of measurement smaller. So use half inch squares or even smaller than that on then. If you wanted to make something kind of big and bold and graphic, double it to two inch squares or three inch squares. Um, and that way you're making kind of a wider grid. But today, to keep early, simple will do one inch squares, so we're going to start out by taking the ruler and putting a little dash mark at each inch interval. So now we'll flip to the other side and mark are one inch intervals along the opposite side as Well, now we want to use a ruler to connect the dashes and draw our lives. Uh, the way to get a super straight even line is you can just eyeball it if you want. Teoh, you can be really OCP and break out your T square. But a simple way I like to make sure that the ruler is aligned is taking a second ruler and measuring the gap from my dash to the top of the page. So measured on the left side seeing, seeing how wide the gap is there on, then move the second roller ruler over to my right side and measure the gap on that side. So for this one, it seems like there they're right about the same. Which means that my first roller is straight and I can go ahead and trace my line across horizontally. Lenin. Since we have that first line, probably straight, we can kind of eyeball the next one. Or you can do the second ruler trick with this one too, if you need to. And others I know I really like the look of pencil in my work. I really like having the transparency of showing every element of every material that's used in the work if you want your last to being more faint, and a good idea is to use a really hard pencil, so that would be like a six. H pencil would be good to to draw really like lines, But again, I'm refusing a regular number two pencil. So go ahead and use a ruler and trace all of your horizontal lines. This site. And now that we have all of the horizontal lines treats, we're going to repeat the same steps. Teoh make our lines going in the other, George. So again, take your ruler on the line it up with the left edge of the paper and then mark a line at each inch inaudible. Then flip it over to the other side and we'll do the same. Exactly. Okay, you have all your dash system. Now we'll go ahead and trace these lines again. We want to make sure that the line is straight so we can use our second rulers to test that out. So here's how wide the gap is on the left side, and then it looks like our lines were actually off on this site. So the angle is cricket on. I actually did not do that on purpose, but it works out well because I can show you how to fix that. So you will see that you just have toe move the ruler down on the right side to make a more straight line. And since it seems like all of the dash is our off, I'm going to go ahead and redraw them so that we are starting off with a nice straight line . Okay, so now they should actually be straight. And we'll go ahead and finish off all our cross lines. And now you're all set and you have this perfect grade, all laid out, ready to paint, so you'll see that the edges are maybe a little bit messy. Your there's some extra pencil marks. I really don't mind that. I think it looks really interesting, but if you want to be more precise so that you can erase some of your lives and make it water more need If you want to 7. Creating Pattern on a Grid: so moving on now that we have our colors mixed, and we've tried out a bunch of patterns and lines and blended colors that we really like. Let's get started practicing some techniques for filling in our grid and figure out what kind of pattern would like to make with the grit. One way to do that is to draw just a really rough sketch of a grid and make a thumbnail so that you could test out different patterns that you like. And for this it definitely doesn't have to be as perfect as the final grid. In fact, you don't even need to use a ruler. I just kind of have a messy hand, so makes it easier. So the simple one that ah that I'm going to do for my grid is just what I call the pyramids . So it's making kind of a triangle going this way, using thin stripes and then a triangle going this way, using thin stripes back the other way, and so on. So every other one going in the opposite direction. And then when you get to the second row, you can continue the same pattern like this. You can make it upside down to make kind of that look of a god's eye that kind of summer camp Bjarne craft. So that could be really cool. Or you can start alternating them. So we have are lines going this way Here in this way here will do the opposite down here and then if we were to continue it here, like if there were another little square, we'd be doing this kind of pattern. So it's kind of an alternating triangle, and this is just the beginning. You can really do anything by filling in the grid, and like I mentioned, I don't always like to make them perfect. Sometimes I'll start out with a really basic pattern, and then I'll just kind of mess it up like I'll do something that doesn't really go with the pattern, and it just kind of breaks it up. It makes it more interesting so you can go really perfect and make them all the same. Or you can go away off whatever makes sense to you. It's also fun to do somewhere you fill in a triangle completely solid. You could do that with water color or a different medium. You could use acrylic paint. You could fill it. Ah, whole square Now and then, however you want to do that and then another easy way to test it out. If you just want to go wild and test out a lot of different patterns you might like is to take a sheet of graph paper. And then I kind of feel out what the patterns are that you might like here. Another option that I sometimes like, is to start out with that God's eye shape, sort of in the middle of the grid and then in each quadrant, let's say this is our grid in each quadrant continuing the pattern that's in the square of the middle. So, for example, in this quadrant, this middle square has the lines going like this, so we'll continue that pattern the whole way. And as you can see, I'm not making my lines perfect at all. This is really just toe eyeball what we would like it to be. So it kind of branches the pattern out on all four sides, which can look really cool. Um, other ones I've done, uh, I've just made some triangles here and there and not filled in the entire grid, so leaving a lot of negative space and kind of putting the triangles randomly where everyone you can. Also, if you want to make something super simple, do your stripes all in one direction the whole way. And you could add more right into this by changing up the color. So starting with kind of making these all pink and then making these all purple, these all blue and kind of blending the lines as you go. So get a piece of graph paper or draw, um, a super easy thumbnail sketch and just test out what you think looks cool. This is where you can also bring those wide stripes that we practice into play. So rather than doing these thin lines, you can, um, when you get to your actual painting, use a wide brush and create wider lines and next up, we'll finally put all the steps together and start painting our grid 8. Final Project: before I start filling in my own final grid, I mentioned I'm going to be using thin lines to make a pyramid pattern, but I also mentioned a couple of other patterns you could use to fill in your grid. So I just want to show you what those would look like if you chose to do different type of pattern. So this is what it would be like to fill in the grid with the wider stripes that I mentioned. You can really start anywhere, but a good place to start is at the top, and you would just use a wide, flat brush with a straight edge and starting at one vertical side, just drag your brush up to the other side, and then a cool way to do it is just to do kind of alternating directions, and you can transition the color as you go the wide lines. It's really nice because the paint will stay kind of what, and then when you touch another line that you've already made, it kind of bleeds into it in this cool way, and the other thing I mentioned that you can do is fill in some solid colors some solid blocks of space, and I like to do that. Still continuing kind of the triangle pattern using an angled brush like this is really nice to be able to get into corners and make really neat triangles. - Yea , we're finally ready to fill in our final grid, so I'm going to do some thin stripes to make the UM pyramid pattern, and I'm going to use lots of different colors, kind of blend in transition with every line toe. Add a lot of different color and interest, and so I'll show you how to do that. I have all of my colors mixed up my primaries, my secondaries and some in between colors. And so I'll just get started. I like to start at the top left because I'm right handed in that way the right side of the page days clean and not smudging anything as I go so I can start out with any color. I'm just going to use this purple and holding the paintbrush really lightly. Just Rothen line from the bottom left corner up to the top right corner, and then I'll keep going with the purple and tap into the pink. A little bit to start to transition the color, then pick up some orange and go back down this way. And then I kind of randomly pick up different colors as I go, maybe making a couple of stripes in one color and then moving on to the next. You can also transition your lines by. If you've already made one line of solid color, pick up a new color and then just do a little dot and it will kind of blend in. And then, like I said so that I don't smudge this half of the sheep, I'll continue down this way. I never really worry too much about making the lines perfect. As you can see, they get a little wobbly, but I kind of like the way that looks it makes adds a little more movement. And also, as you can tell, most of the squares I fill up with about five lines. Sometimes it's six, and again it's something I don't really worry about too much as I'm going, because I think the variety is what makes it really interesting. - So look what happened here. My pattern took a little bit of a turn, but I think it's still turned out really cool. 9. Thanks for joining!: Now you've got your griddle set up and you've started grating your pattern. So just keep on filling in each square. Aziz, you go to create your overall pattern. And remember, sometimes it doesn't have to be, Ah, perfect pattern or make this really precise thing. You can also just let the pattern go whenever you want, and if you mess up, it's fine. It will still look really cool. I'll show you one that I made before. Um, this one. I started out wanting to make this perfect pattern, and I have laid out exactly how to do it. And then I got distracted, and I made a couple lines in the wrong direction, and I just went with it. And so I ended up creating all these different patterns within it, which is kind of more interesting anyway, uh, so you can go either way with that. So just keep filling in your pattern and think of all the different possibilities that you can do for your next one and come back to this kind of project. Whenever you feeling stuck or you're not really sure what to do. It's good way to kind of give yourself an assignment. Um, and that way, as you're doing it, you will either get really into it and you'll finish it, or it'll kind of take your mind off of stressing out over what you should make. And it might loosen you up to get some kind of new idea that you didn't even realize. So thanks for joining me on this class, and I hope you'll check out some of my other classes.