My 5 most useful tips to give your painting a head start. | Nicola Blakemore | Skillshare

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My 5 most useful tips to give your painting a head start.

teacher avatar Nicola Blakemore, Professional Artist, Teacher and Creative Entrpren

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

7 Lessons (42m)
    • 1. Introduction to the course

    • 2. Composition

    • 3. Harmony

    • 4. Perspective

    • 5. Perspective 2

    • 6. Shadows

    • 7. Skillshare size check

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About This Class

I consider these the most valuable  lessons you will learn when painting with watercolours.  See your work transformed.

This course is a MUST for anyone interested in improving their watercolour paintings.

* An absolute beginner? This will give to some basic guidelines to create solid foundations to help you get into good habits right from the start.

* Already painting but think your pictures lack 'something?' This might be just what you're looking for to lift the standard of your work and make your paintings stand out from the rest. It's easy to get in a rut and use the same methods time after time. This course will help you step outside your comfort zone.

This concise course will clearly define FIVE areas that will really change the quality of your work. My experience shows me that If you go through this mental 'check list' every time you work on a painting, you will see some dramatic improvements .

Look over my shoulder as I take you through each of these crucial elements in watercolour painting. Each lecture is a complete video demonstration with full supporting notes and resources where required.

I am here to help you build your confidence and knowledge so you can get as much as you can from this rewarding pass time.

Enjoy your painting, Nicola

Meet Your Teacher

Teacher Profile Image

Nicola Blakemore

Professional Artist, Teacher and Creative Entrpren


Why choose one of my courses?

Because, as a self taught artist I understand how a lot of people feel about their creative work, sometimes anxious, sometimes overwhelmed and often that it's not 'good enough'.

Well I will hold your hand as you overcome these fears as I offer a friendly, relaxed and sensitive teaching style.

Do one of my courses and you will feel as if I am in the room with you every step of the way.

Here's a bit about me.

I originally trained as a graphic artist, and then followed a different career path working in the national media, travel and public relations in both London and Paris.

After sometime I returned to my creative roots full time, so to speak, and became a full time artist, teacher and creative entrepreneur.

T... See full profile

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1. Introduction to the course: Hello and thank you for joining me on this course, which is going to give you five fundamental elements of watercolor painting. If you're an absolute beginner, then this is the place to start. This will give you good habits if you've been painting for a while, but think, Gosh, my work doesn't seem to be moving on. Then again, this will point you in the right direction. I'm Nikola, and I've been teaching painting, watercolor, painting all sorts for many years on. I've been doing a lot of courses on who to me. Andi, I've noticed they're basically boils down to five elements that could really lift your work on. These would be covered in this course. That's composition, harmony concerning your colors, the ability to make alterations, simple perspective on looking at shadows and shading every time I'm with a student. In reality, I find that when they're stuck, they said, What's wrong? What's wrong with it? And it's usually one of those five things. So this is what you're going to be covering. So it's a great place to start, and it's a great place to refresh and revive your existing work. My teaching style is very friendly, relaxed and on, and my videos are quite homemade. You're just looking over my shoulder on seeing me as I actually address each of these issues, so I hope that gives you more information of what the course involves. There really is nothing more to add, except that if you don't do any other cause, do this one. It short. It's sweet, but it's jolly valuable. Enjoy it. 2. Composition: composition. What is composition? Well, it's a collection of something put together in appeasing way. It could be a collection of musical notes, all the same notes, but that's how you put them together, makes for an interesting composition and an interesting tune on. It's the same with painting. I want to take you right back to the old Masters. The classical composition is a golden triangle in a lot of the ways you have this composition here, for example, you see how the models formed this nice triangular piece, which is very pleasing to the eye you also have, If you look at it, a similar thing here, a triangle forming that way and then a triangle forming that way. So it's a question of getting things to look pleasing this composition here. Okay, this is a portrait unstow life. You can see how we have a sort of triangle there as well, and likewise with this Vermeer. Although the lady in the portrayed is almost in the middle, she said to slight angle on in the foreground, You've got the still life subjects of what she's dealing with. The one of the most important things of our composition. when you're putting together a picture, let us say we are doing one that his landscape is. You do not want to cut your painting your composition into quarters into harm's like that. The better way of looking at it is to think of it as in six. Okay, thirds 3rd 3rd This is a better way of balancing something. So composition. It's a question of how you put things together when you're looking at doing a painting, whether you're working from a still life or from a photograph, try and start with the end in mind, in other words, and visit it mounted, framed on the wall. How will it look? You have to ask yourself, What's my motivation for painting that picture? For example? I always do a lot of little sketches. Little thumbnails. We call them, say I'm working on a still life. Okay, it's the vials of flowers. Well, you could have it plunk right in the middle of your portrayed shape. Oh, you could say no. I think I'll have a bit of the balls there and then lost flowers. So what you're effectively doing is you're zooming in with your eye to take that section that it there because you might in fact saying to yourself, your reason for painting This joke of flowers is full of flowers, other colors of some particular flowers. So you could say, Well, I particularly like the color of that bomb there, so I want to make sure I make that is biggest possible. You might also be thinking about looking down on something. There's the joke. You're looking down on it like that. So if you're taking photographs, it's all a question of how you take your photograph, don't you? You zoom in or you pick something that is the most interesting area for you. So you want to think what is my motivation for painting this picture? An example Here. This is what life, Other courses. One of my lund. Since my landscape calls that you just zoom out so you can see a bit better This painting here. Okay, I did it for the landscape cause, but my motivation for doing it was because of the big sky. This is going towards the coastline where I live on the terrain, gets flatter and flatter on It's all vinyard, and I wanted to get across my feeling my enjoyment to viewer of this very big sky. So I dropped my horizon right time, even possibly as far as 1/4 that was is about 1/3. Okay, so you got to think, What's your motivation? What's the most interesting aspect of the subject matter? Why you painting it and make that part of your decisions about your composition? This one here, this one is this little Buddha. It's actually in the garden off where I hold my painting Holidays on. I could have come at this from lots of different angles because I have pictures of it looking that way, looking that way. But what I wanted was to make the lovely Ryan shapes of him the important bit, but also the bright light of the landscape behind. So what I've done is I've zoomed in on. I'm making these areas really dark on, then very, very light behind. So whenever you're planning your composition, just keep thinking about what is it that is the most important thing to me about this subject on how can I make it interesting on also, when you're looking at your subject matter, you consort of mark off areas, OK, it helps you see a little bit better How you're looking at things. Take a piece of paper, war, piece of mountain board something like that. Play around with it. Play around with how you want it to look. So composition, Yes. You could have something punk in the middle. Let's go back to that sketch here. Okay? Plunking the middle. Okay. Very pleasing. Could be well executed. But it's not very exciting, is it? So by zooming in there, you have your drawing the viewer in to say, Look at these colors. Look at these shapes. You could also, if you go still with the portrayed, you could have it a bit off center. Say you've got some nice shadows behind there. It's casting Shudder. You could say, OK, they're just that to take you right to decide. But I might have a few dropped petals there. Maybe you want to make it escape. You want the shadow? The shadow might be the most important thing to you. You could have long shudders, Probably too far. We'll see. So just think about what you're doing. Start with the end in mind and I really, really can't emphasize enough that This is probably it's one of most important stages. It's the first stage of your painting. The planning. It's 99% of the job. Do little sketches. Think about what you're doing. Stop planning ahead. You colors shapes. How is it going to look what is going to make the subject that first engaged you enough to paint it engaging to the viewer? 3. Harmony: Okay, let's talk about harmony, color, harmony. We all need a bit of harmony in our lives. Don't like whether it's in the the home, musically in the workplace. Why not in your painting as well? By that we mean using a consistent colors having cohesion in your work. I'm just going to show you this painting. It's one of my online courses, this landscape now, in order to keep a nice cohesion throughout the work. When I mixed my greens, I was consistent with the yellow on blue that I chose all throughout here. So you get a very you get your variation. You don't have to keep mixing more different yellows and different blues or using different greens straight from the pan. But to get the variation, you alter the intensity, either making it darker with the blue, making a blue agree or um or yellowy green. Like around here, I run some changes in the trees in the distance because it's we know things get a bit bluer in the background, and also these trees are evergreen, their cedars and cypresses. So if you look at those that colors are quite different when it comes to the green Hume's. So when I say about making some slight alterations, let's start off with them. I'm going to mix to cool colors together. I'm gonna use a cool lemon. You just my palate. Sorry. God, that's in the wrong place, isn't it? I'm gonna use a cool color, which is the lemon on a call blue, which is the surreal Ian. Now there's your lemon and there's you Cerulean. Okay, They both come under the cool palette section. If you look in the resources, I have posted something for you. It's something that I found in a magazine. Thank you. Leisure painter. Courtesy of them. No point reinventing the wheel. So I printed it off. Put it there on not will help you a lot with your colors. And you, Colin mc sings It will tell you by your warm colors You're cool colors, a new various families. So I'm going to take a little bit of a trillion. I know that now. Remember, always, always, always if you have two colors and one is lighter, so to speak done the other one always out a bit of the dark to the pain. One always start with the payer one, because it's easier to keep pouting a bit more a bit more until you get it right. Okay, so now I'm gonna tried a bit more with this really in on a bit more of this trillion. And you see how the colors are starting to change. Okay, so it depends which color is dominant, So those are all made up. Let's just mess about with this on the page. Always good fun to miss about on the paper. I don't forget. You can always mix colors on the pay, so by altering the proportion of wall color to the other, you get a different color. But it still has that that continuity, that cohesion. So that's what I mean by color harmony. It's the same with your other colors, the reds and the blues. How you mix those on dure reds on dure yellows, how you mix those two. Get your color harmony. But if you're picking a painting, you have a subject that you are going to do. It's a good idea to just keep your consistence. I'm such a thing. This little chap again, it's a pain to be working on for a little while. Still fiddling about with him. But again, I've kept my colors consistent. Okay, the mixing ingredients to say these colors for the trees. That's a plane tree. Those is annulment. I'm not sure, but keeping your base colors the same throughout. And that will give you that nice continuity. So don't suddenly leapt from warm to cool colors. Unless you want that specific effect. Eso that basically is Kalak harmony. Another good way of thinking about color harmony is if you mix your color charts, as I always suggest. Everybody does his my greens with all my blues, all my yellows are mixed together to make the chart. Okay, so that way you can see there as well how your colors work together. And if I continued that, like, have just done that's actually science. Their civilian looks quite different. That doesn't a bit Monday. This is very old. But if you did those two again, as I have just done here, then you could work another Another lovely chart of going across the board to see the differences. So that is color harmony. Just think about it before you start dying into a paint box 4. Perspective: uh, it's div. Okay. What do we mean by perspective? Well, it means a lot of things, depending on the context you use it in. If we're talking about an opinion, we might say something like, Well, from your perspective, it's bound to look that way. We might say, Well, look at it from a different perspective and it all boils down to a viewpoint. Whether that is a thinking viewpoint or a physical viewpoint, and that is exactly the same with your artwork. It depends. The perspective you display is a result off the way you are looking at something. So if you're standing a long way away from somewhere, here's your I there are and you're looking at something over there and there are a long way away. They're gonna be very small, aren't they? Fanatical person. But is there a bit near up? There'll be a bit bigger. We all know that the further things are away from you, the smaller they get. So what I mean by perspective is it is your viewpoint. It's where you are looking at things. If you bear in mind that when you're looking at something with a view to drawing it or whatever you've got to think about looking through the lens of a camera. Okay, we have something caught. You'll hear people talk about this in perspective that you're looking at your composition through a picture plane. That's what the term is the technical term. I prefer to use the word or the phrase picture frame because that's what you're doing. If you're looking at a view, you are probably thinking about it fitting into a frame. So imagine you're looking through the lens of a camera. Okay, that's your hills. I know you've got a little church there, something like that in the trees and all that sort of stuff. And if you're looking at all this, you're trying to decide which bit you want. So you're dividing it up into the picture plane or, as I prefer to say, the picture frame. So that is a question of saying how you are looking at something. OK, so perspective. As things go further away, who has broken? Let the smaller they get okay. Now we also have something called a vanishing point. By that, I mean where lines converge. Imagine if you will. They are your feet and you're standing on a road a very straight road. Ondas. The two curbs go away from you. These two lines converge. That is what we call the vanishing point. Nothing to do with science fiction. It's just that thing's going away from You will gradually converge like that. It's the same thing with the row of buildings. If you're looking down a narrow street, they will get smaller and smaller. Okay, it's a door that's a drug, that this is very basic, very, very basic. But if you think about it too long, you get confused. The many things you've really got remember this thing called the picture picture plane? Or as I like to call it frame, because I think that makes more sense on the vanishing point, where things go furthering further and converge like that. Another very important thing to remember is that your horizon, no matter matter what it is, it is always going to bay where your eyes OK, so if you are bending down, it will bend down with you. If you stand on a chair, it will go up with you. Now those are some very, very basic rules. The further things are away from you. The smaller they get, Look at the frame, your picture frame, your picture plain. You have vanishing points, and you've got to remember that your eye is always on the horizon. I'm going to recommend a book for you. It's in the notes because it explains it very clearly. But this is just a way for you to start thinking about the fact that it's how you look at something. It literally is your perspective, whether you look up with something or look down on it on. The reason where employees it in our paintings is to make things look are more believable or more interesting. So I hope that helps you, with your perspective, a new Orner have a different perspective on it. 5. Perspective 2: this short video is twin doors. What I said in the previous one about being consistent with your perspective. Quite often I see it in when I'm teaching students in flesh. They are not consistent. Let me explain what I mean. If you've got a tin can, for example, and you're looking down on it. So you're seeing some of the top you're looking down that's curved there. That is also going to be curved. And quite often I see the mistake off. They get that bit and they get that bit and they're not based flat. No, that is not good. Okay, Quite often I see them doing maybe a still life and they've got a Savalas. Mr Flowers in. So they get that bit and the flowers coming out. Of course, they can see that the flowers are coming out. And if I was okay, sometimes it doesn't happen. Remember that that is going around behind it. Okay, is easier to draw the whole ellipse on. Then often I see. No, you've got to have that curve. So you must be consistent. That's what I want to really get across to you Be consistent. And this is also something. Don't do the trying to join it up behind. I see that a lot. It's much easier to draw the whole thing. Go right there's the front of the If they saw whatever it is, that's my and I was what you got coming out, OK, and then they go around and it doesn't it doesn't make sense. Sometimes they miss bit. So it's much easier when you're drawing something like that to draw the whole thing. And I even do I even suggest to them quite often when you got that arrangement, you're just seeing the front, but draw the whole thing. You know you can't see this, but draw it and then you can always repeat out. Okay, this is a very good exercise to just keep doing ellipsis circles ellipses. It's a very good cause. It gets it into muscle memory. So I want to emphasize about being consistent when you're doing your perspective. If you're looking down on something, you continue to look down on everything. If you're looking up on something like a building, it's still gonna be going up until it gets to your eye line. Your horizon. OK, when I'm teaching people in the flesh. Maybe they're doing a still life on. And I say to them, They said This problem. I say, Can I sit where you're sitting? Because I need to see what your eyes seeing If I'm standing up, I've got a whole different perspective. If they I have to learn to do cartoons, I think if they are sitting down looking at something, they have one view. Whereas if I am standing appear, I wish I was that tool. I've got a totally different perspective. Okay, so I hope that endorses more about how the perspective works from where your point of view is literally your point of view ing on being consistent. 6. Shadows: shadows, shadows and shading This'd about bringing a bit of a bit of contrast into your work. I'm gonna do this video on how shadows are cast. Now imagine you're doing a still life or you're out in the street painting buildings to establish your shadows. You have got to establish where your light is coming from, whether it be sunlight. An electric didn't like election night boulders of a libel what ever it is. You gotta stop betrayal sources coming from because what happens? Whatever is in the way of that light source is go to cast shutter on the other side. So, for example, your light source is going like that. You have a ball on the ground. The light is stopping is not getting through that. So you're gonna have shadow cast. I don't want drawing. That's a total. Have you can see it onto the ground like that? You've got a building. Okay, lights going like that. That's blocking all that is blocking the shadow blocking the light. I mean, and therefore casting a shadow or you gotta do is stand in the street on a sunny day and look what you shadow does where it goes on. The you'll then established where were established, where your light source is coming from. It doesn't matter whether it's natural or artificial, but what you must dough always always do is be consistent. Don't suddenly decide halfway through your drawing or your painting that you've got some things with shadow on that side. And then another thing with the shadow on that side. Okay, so make sure that you do it consistently. Also, I just want to point out, say, that is a ball on the ground. There's you, like source. Okay, so it's costing shudder something, something like that and that makes the object look believable. It makes it grounded. It's not floating. But also remember that shadows are gonna be the darkest where the light isn't getting a tool, and then we'll get lighter as it goes out into the world, as it were, because you're going to get some light seeping around the outside. But whenever on object is touching something, there is no like getting their atoll. That is gonna be your darkest area. Okay, so having established that, I'm not going to show you from the painting point of view, my favorite little two little Cherries. Now, you can see by that highlight there. The light is coming from that side. So therefore, any shadows have got to be on this side. So what I'm going to do is I'm going to put a bit of that's actually the same color with a bit of Payne's gray. I'm leaving those white lines so you can see what I'm doing. So that is that cherry casting a shadow that Jerry will also cast a shutter. Something like that. Okay, try say it's not bleeding it. But also remember that that Cherry is gonna cast a shadow onto that, Jerry, so we'll have a bit of shadow on that. Likewise, there isn't any light on that side of cherry, so that will be darker, a swell. And there is something called reflected light. But I won't go into that here because all that means it might confuse it. This state on a shiny surface light, is gonna bounce onto the surface and then bads back onto the other object. But we won't worry about that at the moment, so that's just put a bit more since I was trying to go to the edge. Let's blend that in a bit. Okay. Ondas I set in the drawing bit where the light doesn't go. It's gonna be darkest. And also don't forget. And I see this a lot with people. Be consistent. And remember not only of those who is casting a shadow over so the storks. Oh, no. You say hammer gonna do that, Nikola. Well, you're gonna have to imagine. Roughly there's there's the stalk community there. So you're gonna have a soldier of something like that arrangement. There's the curve that stork is curving that where? So it's properly. You're not going to see much behind that. Okay, you don't have to be super duper precise. Three eyes will fill in the gaps, but it is just This is just a demonstration to show you. So basically, with shadows, the first thing you gotta do is establish your light source where it's coming from, be consistent on the shadows will be on the opposite side. There were also being stalked shadow on that cherry and so forth. What I'll do is I'll finish this, tied it up and post it as a photograph. I hope that helps you with your shadows 7. Skillshare size check: This is a sort of demonstration, sort of play feature, play painting. And I just thought it was rather nice. And I thought it might be fun for a little video just to show you how I have done it. But what I'm going to do is I'm going to do it on a much smaller piece of paper. Because I think it would be nice to be stuck onto a blank card to use as a greeting card. So I'm going to show you how I did it. I'm using a very small chisel brush or a flat brush. This is a number ten. It has a nice flat point because I'm gonna be using that for making the trunk. And then I'm going to use a number seven or I might go up to an eight if I need, need to. But I'm going to have to scale down to get this onto here. Now, I'm just going to move this across a little bit so I can get you get you a bit of both in the camera as it were. So I've mixed myself a dirty gray, a bit of Payne's gray, a bit of raw umber. I've got some Goldie colors there and I've got some yellows and Venetian red in my paint box. So I'm going to start off and I'm going to start by building the trunk just as far as it comes up and starts to fall can two branches. So I'm taking my little chisel brush now. I like odd numbers. So what I'm gonna do, I'm gonna have a fairly thick big tree here and then a couple of little spindly ones there. So I'm going to start off with holding the brush quite upright. And I'm just going to go up the tree like that. Now, I'm always telling students to use their brushes, going with the bristle, not pushing, but here I do actually advocated a bit of pushing. It doesn't have to be, but you can dip back in to not the thin wash color. But go back into the Royal Rumble, all the Payne's gray and see how the brushes split a little bit and curved. Well, that's fine because we don't want it. It's all nice and even and this is drying out quite quickly actually. That I'm going to go just with the tip of the brush down the side to create that curve appearance. And then i'm, I'm coming down. Okay, There's one. Now, I'm going to space this one over here. So this is like a silver birch tree, something that has peeling bark. And this is a much more slender trunk, quite like that breakup in the bristle there because it's given me the way the brushes split look is giving me both sides both sides at the same time. Because there's a little gap in between. This is very good for learning about your brushes. Anythings like this that make you think about how you can let the brush do the work. Okay, so we've got three trunks there. Now, I'm going to go to the leaves. And I'm going to start off with my palest color. And I'm just going to put a big splotch. Now, I'm also thinking about this as a card. So I want to keep it fairly tidally within this sort of area. Now, I'm leaving lots of gaps because I want to put the branches in afterwards. No, here I'm letting the brush make the marks of the leaves. I'll put a big blob of color in. But now I'm going to let the brush do some of the work for me. And this again is making the most of the shape of your brushes and using the right brush for the right, Let's go a bit more Goldie and just drop it in while that's still wet. It's rather pleasing. So good exercise in color. Mixing and such like I'm going to sneeze, Excuse me. Sorry about that. Too tricky to edit act. Okay, let's go a little bit darker. I've got some Venetian red, drop some bits in all root car that's moved. Isn't that lovely? And again, letting the brush make some marks, drop it in. Because leaves, when they start to turn, sometimes they do it in a lovely shaded way. Okay. Now let's go back to this and I'm going to start doing some little branch bits and I'm not going to worry if some of my color bleeds. So I'm just implying that some of the branches go up there. It is better if you can wait for this stage to dry. In fact, I will do that. I'm going to hold the video and wait for that to dry. Right? I have used some absorbent paper to take a bit of the color off because I'm rather impatient today. So let's get on with doing some more of the trunk bit. I've loaded my brush again. And I'm just using the left side and just making little marks to imply that the branches are going up. Now, let's fill in the gap here a bit. And I've mixed a slightly strong color. I think that was a bit too weak, so I'm gonna go back down and just accentuate a little bit and put also the odd twig coming out. Again. Let the brush do the work for you. That's a nice little tweak there. This one a bit more. So you're not to pay to your more doing this sort of thing. Now I've mixed up darker color and just unified as it were. Let's put a tweet that link up with those few leaves, that one. So you can mess about with this. You can get it in roughly with the pale color. And then you can just go back and fiddle about. And let's just pull. It doesn't matter that the tree disappears off the top of the page. He's just an impression. And you can put some little tweaks in front. And we can cover up more gaps with more leaves. I'm going to do now though, however, is I'm going to put a little bit of this background in. So this is where we start working in the negative. And I've mixed the same assault of a greeny blue color and it's not dry enough. So I'm just going to come down here. The way. I like quickly. Bring my color down and back up. So covering the area fairly quickly. I'm going to fill in that little gap there. Then back again here. Oops, little bit too much. Then as polytechnic quickly, the brush, suck it up.