Watercolor Workout: 14 Days of Drills to Advance Your Skills | Jen Dixon | Skillshare

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Watercolor Workout: 14 Days of Drills to Advance Your Skills

teacher avatar Jen Dixon, Abstract and figurative artist, tutor.

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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

19 Lessons (2h 42m)
    • 1. Introduction

    • 2. Materials Needed

    • 3. Day 1: Right Here, Right Now

    • 4. Control Has Nothing to Do with Subject

    • 5. Day 2: Testing Your Brushes

    • 6. Day 3: Basic Pressure and Consistency

    • 7. Resting or Hovering Hands

    • 8. Day 4: Even Stripes

    • 9. Day 5: Flat Brushes and Variation

    • 10. Day 6: Angled and Compound Stitches

    • 11. Day 7: About Talent and Compound Curves

    • 12. Day 8: Extreme Changes in Direction

    • 13. Days 9 & 10: Pressure Changes

    • 14. Day 11: Combining Pressure and Compound Marks

    • 15. Day 12: Nested Circles

    • 16. Day 13: Advanced Practice

    • 17. Day 14: Create and Compare

    • 18. Bonus Project: Drills Skills Sampler

    • 19. Final Thoughts

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About This Class

Welcome to Watercolour Workout: 14 Days of Drills to Advance Your Skills.

--------->  You may be painting every day, but are you really practicing?


Improvement is not automatic without a plan. I have designed this class to keep you growing and building skill to skill over 14 days.

Your brush is an instrument with a wide range of marks and expression. Whatever kind of art you create, whether it is surface pattern design, illustration, cartoon manga, lettering, or abstract fine art or figurative, the way you handle your brush and the way it makes contact with a surface requires deliberate practice. To get the most out of it, you gotta get focussed.

We’ll start by measuring where you are now, then tackle specific marks and pull them together into drills that are fun, challenging, and designed to improve your painting fast. There is a process to this practice and it works for everyone, even if you want to stay loose.



• If you have ever felt frustrated with your abilities while painting or you feel your marks are broken, sketchy, or look timid - this class is for you.

• If you are confident in what you want but can’t seem to make it right - this class is for you.

• If you want to feel less stress when painting and would rather focus on the joy of it - this class is for you.

This class is filled with drills and advice to build your skills.

In 14 days you will be a better painter.
Heck, you’ll improve after day one, so get yourself a tasty beverage and let’s get started.


NOTE: If you are on a mobile device and cannot find the Project Download, try this direct link: WatercolourWorkout_JenDixon.pdf

Meet Your Teacher

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Jen Dixon

Abstract and figurative artist, tutor.

Top Teacher

Whether you want to learn new skills or brush up on rusty ones, I would love to help. I have been a selling artist for nearly 35 years and in my own practice use pen and ink, pastels, oils, acrylics, and watercolours regularly. I have a roster of private tuition students who see me in my studio and we cover everything from the fundamentals of art and drawing to experimental and abstract work.
I love what I do and I teach what I love. I know we can do good things together here on Skillshare,
so let's get started...

Here's a bit about me... (standard bio blurb)

Jen Dixon works mostly in mixed media abstract and figurative painting. She is also an illustrator, writer, and teaches privately both groups and individuals. Originally from Indiana, she now lives in a windy vi... See full profile

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1. Introduction: Hi, I'm Jen Dixon and welcome to watercolor work out 14 days of drills to advance your skills. Everyone wants to paint more confidently, more skillfully, and in a way that skill comes across in the finished art. In my years of teaching privately and online, I've been asked again and again, how to truly get better at controlling watercolor and ink. This class will help you become significantly better in just two weeks of deliberately designed practice and it'll be fun. Want to hear more? Your brush is an instrument with a wide range of marks and expression. Whatever art you create, whether it's surface pattern, design, illustration, cartoon manga, lettering, abstract or figurative fine art the way you handle your brush and the way it makes contact with the surface requires deliberate practice. "But Jen, I'm already painting every day and my art's not getting any better my landscapes are limped, my still life are still dead. How on earth can this class help me in such a short amount of time?" I'm glad you asked the person who is definitely not me in a fake mustache you may be painting every day, but are you really practicing?. This class is designed to keep you growing and building skill to skill over 14 days, Can the class be completed and fewer than 14 days? Sure it can. But to truly and meaningfully build skill, you need to take the time and work at each stage. Also, these drills are probably going to make your hand tired, so give yourself recovery time. There's always tomorrow. We'll start by measuring where you are now then tackle specific marks and pull them together into drills that are fun and challenging and design to improve your painting fast. There's a process to this practice and it works for everyone. Even if you want to stay loose, practice makes progress. No matter what you create using watercolor or ink with a brush, step inside and commit to 14 days of training. These exercise drills are going to embed themselves in your brain, travel down through your arm and explode from your brush like a tiny cannon full of motivational unicorns a eco-friendly glitter or something like that. It's going to be fun welcome to day one. Let's get started. 2. Materials Needed: For this class, I recommend using mid-range watercolors or inks. This means not the cheapest and not the most expensive, but rather somewhere in between. Most major art supply companies make basic mid-range and professional level formulations of their paints. For this, I'll be using Daler-Rowney's Aquafine watercolors, as well as Daler-Rowney's FW acrylic inks, and Dr. Ph. Martin's India inks. You could also use Winsor and Newton's Cotman paints or St. Petersburg White Nights watercolors. There is no need for you to use your best, most treasured stuff for this class or for your general drills exercises. You just need something that behaves well on paper and gives you consistent quality results. A word about cheap, no name watercolors, give that stuff to kids because they have no place in your studio. Sounds harsh, but trust me on this, cheap paints will frustrate you because they don't behave or mix properly. Here are some examples of cheap paints next to mid-range watercolors. Notice how the cheap paint apply and dry unevenly, look chalky, and are not at all vibrant, a perfect case of "You get what you pay for", so be gone with them. We'll be using both watercolor and heavy cartridge paper. Again, quality branded paper, but not top of the range is perfect. I love these Daler-Rowney's Jumbo pads of Aquafine paper. You get lots of paper and the price is great. When I buy practice paper, I look at the thickness and the cost per sheet. So far, these Daler-Rowney Jumbo pads, as well as bulk sheets from Fabriano seem to be my go-tos. Both are quality papers at a price that won't break the bank or make you hesitant to experiment. Even a decent sketch book with heavy paper will be fine for most of the practice. Aim for paper that doesn't easily buckle or warp with water-based materials, so 200-300 gsm, which is 90 pound plus for watercolor paper, or a 130-200gsm cartridge paper will be perfect. As for brushes, I'll have a few sizes of round brush and a few flat brushes. You are welcome to experiment with other shapes, but those are the two styles I'll be using in this class. Don't forget a few jars of water, some paper towels, tape, bowls, dishes, or palettes for mixing larger amounts of paint, and of course, a tasty beverage. 3. Day 1: Right Here, Right Now: Before we get into any of the specific exercises, I need you to do one thing for me first, paint this. You'll find the photo in the downloadable PDF. The point of this exercise is to establish where you are right here, right now, with your skills, techniques, and instincts. Finish it, put a date on it, set it aside, then we can jump into the next chapter. Paint it like you paint any other subject, but do it pretty quickly. I suggest taking no more than an hour to do this. Try to make it as big as eight and a half by 11, or A4 in size. Also, you don't need to get all the colors or details correct. In fact, you can do it in mono, if you want to, or just using ink. The point is to get the repeated shapes and marks in place. You can either draw it first, or jump in with the paint and no preliminary drawing, whatever works for you. I don't want you to watch any further until this is done. Don't feel pressure to make it perfect. We will use this painting at the end of the class. 4. Control Has Nothing to Do with Subject: Let's make one thing super clear no one wakes up good at something from the start. The skills in this class will affect your ability to control your brush and medium no matter what subject you choose to paint. What I'm saying here is don't skip anything in this class because you think it's not your style do the exercises, even if you can't imagine how it relates to your work i promise it does. This workout is about building muscles and control whether you're a modern calligrapher or an abstract landscape painter. Every minute you spend training your hand with these carefully designed drills will make you better at whatever you do, you already paint every day?. That's a great habit but I want you to think about this, when you are painting a full composition or an object, you're not practicing your focusing on getting it right, your micro-managing details, worrying about blends and layers that's not practice. This is where drills come in here are just a few examples of how learning to paint pin stripes can enhance your work, Flourishes and calligraphy require steady, confident, consistent quality of line architectural details need that same skill as do fashion illustrators and even abstract painters. Same Mark, countless uses no matter what you choose as your typical subject, these drills and exercises will help you to advance your skills, in summary, why do the drills? Familiarise yourself with your tools and their capabilities in your hands. Push your limits without potentially doing something regrettable on a full composition, solve skilled problems before they happen on a final artwork, time to experiment, learn, try new things, build your Mark's vocabulary. 5. Day 2: Testing Your Brushes: Before we get started with the drills, we need to test our brushes. Each of your round brushes has a personality. In fact, every brush, even two of the same kind of brush has a unique behavior. The way a brush points, the fiber, and the length of the bristles and other factors give each brush a unique mark, and you'll need to get to know each one. We're going to do an exercise similar to what I've done on this sheet, where I've taken all of these brushes and tested them. You'll notice that there are several that are the same, similar sizes like size two, all the way across. But you can see that they have very different marks depending on which brush I'm using. So a two is not always a two if that makes sense. As we carry on down the page, you can see that some of my brushes leave a nice clean almost pill like mark. Some of them have a bit of a ragged edge. These are things that we're going to be testing. Make up a generous amount of watercolor in a dish or palette. Make sure it's dark enough in hue that you can tell where the little details are left by the brush marks. You don't need to do all of your brushes right now, but instead focus on the ones you think you might work with for this class. I'm using flat and round brushes for my drills. I've chosen a handful of each of those to test. You'll want to create a large enough patch, that you can tell the actual personality of the brush marks. You notice I'm just doing a gentle press with my brush. This is a size six in Daler-Rowney's sapphire range. It's an older one that I've got, so the tip of it isn't quite as sharp as a newer one would be. But I like that dull, rounded personality to it. As you can see when I press down and I pull up, I've got one end of the mark that looks a little bit rounded, and then the closing part, the part on the right-hand side, looks a little bit more flat or sharp. It seems to have a personality that gives it tiny little points. Now I know something about this particular brush. Next I'm going to test the exact same brush in name and size, but this one is a brand new one. I've never used this particular size six sapphire before, but we're going to see how it compares side by side. Seems to be a similar mark, but a little thinner, and the two ends are a little bit closer to being the same. There's a very slight upward point on the mark left behind with the newer one. They are pretty similar. It's got a nice feel to it. That's the new one compared to the old one. Not unlike clothing sizes, manufacturer to manufacturer may have a slightly different definition of the number that they produce for a brush like this is a size six in Prolene by Pro Arte. Now, I'm going to test it to see if the mark is similar or quite different to the Daler-Rowney ones. Again, it's a size six different brand. It's much more squared off lean mark compared to the ones out there. We go a little bit more pressure and a little bit more paint on my brush. I didn't find this one quite as predictable as the two from Daler-Rowney before. It's got a funny point on it. I'll just round that off on the edge of my dish and try again. Similar. I think I prefer the action of the other two. So that's three down. Now I'm going to try some of my more slender brushes. Maybe, I'd say try. Those are both a size two, here's a third, size two. These are all from Rosemary & Co. They are three different lines that, that manufacturer creates. You can see even visually, they have quite different tips to them. I'm going to start with this crazy screaming loud orange color that I've made up. We're just trying to get similar pressure, similar marks, so that we've got something for comparison. When you make these sheets, they are really good to keep on hand. Don't throw these away. These are excellent reference sheets that when you need to choose a brush for a task, you can always refer to these, and see which ones make the mark that's most appropriate for your project. I really like the way that one works. Incredibly different mark from this second size two brush, also from Rosemary & Co. You can see side to side, these two brushes, one of them has a much more rounded soft mark that it makes. The other one is much more of a straight line or a dash or a stitch mark. It's got slightly more ragged edges to it. Finally, one more size two brush. Same manufacturer. This one's lovely. It's very similar, start and end to the mark. Both ends are fairly rounded. Just applying light pressure and lifting up. I like this brush a lot. My only complaint with it is the brush itself is so lightweight, it feels like you haven't got anything in your hand. A slightly heavier brush is my preference. But I would absolutely use this because of the mark it makes. So already having only tested six brushes, we have very different marks being made by brushes of the same numerical size. In an example I made outside of this class, you can also see that a size four and a size eight, depending on the manufacturer can be almost identical in its actual mark size. Here are two size four's alongside a size eight. As I mentioned, just like with clothing, the size may differ from manufacturer to manufacturer. Testing your brushes out is really important. If you find that, when somebody on a class or in a book recommends a certain size brush and you're not getting or achieving the marks that, that person has made. It could very well be down to the brush you're using. Maybe somebody has asked for a size six and you choose this size six, but you're not getting a nice chunky mark like you would with this particular brush. This is why this exercise is so important. Now I want you to finish a sheet of some flat brushes and some round pointed brushes so that you can find what each brush does. Then we'll move on to the drills. Before choosing your first brush to complete a drill, make sure you have one that is easy to work with and gives you the result you're after. If that brush does not give you the mark that you want, you may want to do the drill anyway for practice and consider adding another style or brand of brush to your wishlist. You'll never force a brush to behave in a way you want if it goes against its personality. Try different brands and bristles until you get what feels best for you. 6. Day 3: Basic Pressure and Consistency: A great way to make drills more interesting is to combine it with designing color harmonies. You can of course complete your drills in a single color, but I like to mix up three or four hues and alternate as I go. If you're not sure what colors to pick, there are lots and lots of online color palette generators, or you could go to Pinterest, or even pick up a design book that is meant for helping you sort color combinations. I've had this one for probably 15 years or so and I think you can still get it. For this drills exercise, we're going to tackle a basic brick wall pattern for pressure and consistency. Among other things, it could also be a basket weave, varying the color slightly from mark to mark makes a pleasing pattern. In this example I created months ago, I even threw in a totally different color just for one mark, just to shake things up visually. Have fun with it. You don't need to use watercolor paper for this, some heavyweight cartridge paper will be plenty having enough just for this basic pattern. I've got some paints already mixed up. According to some sheets I've done previously, I think I'm going to choose the sable brush from pro art, and it is a size 10. I'm going to go with that one. Just get a sheet of cartridge paper. But looking at this example, it's a really loose example, I wasn't going for absolute total perfection in the marks. But you do notice that I am consistent in about the size of each of the marks and about the size of the white space that surrounds them. That's what I want us to look at. You can see in these examples, it was still about doing the marks consistently and the white space is fairly consistent between them also, and that's what we're going to focus on. We're going to try and make things fairly tidy, keep an eye on that whites pace, and if it ends up being a little bit more painterly, that's okay too. Your mark should start with a loaded but not dripping brush. Pressing down for a confidence start, pulling gently but with a consistent pressure to one side and then lifting. Press "Pull and Lift." I'm mindful at the white space between each of those marks. Now, because of how much paint I've got on my brush, yes, I get that dot at the end, it makes it look like a stuffed olive. You can brush that back through if you want, or just leave it, it doesn't really matter, that's not what we're here for. We're here about consistent pressure and white space. If it's a brick wall, I'm going to start at the halfway point of the one above it and about halfway in the next brick. I'm still getting to know the pattern and what I need to do to achieve it, and sometimes my brush marks are a little not what I expected. That's why we're practicing. If you come across marks where you're getting a result that isn't quite what you expected, this is an exercise, this is a drill, now is the time to begin troubleshooting it. For example, what is making my brush make that mark at the end. I've got that crescent instead of a nice rounded mark. If I press and pull up, if I let it go all the way to the tip, I can get away from that crescent. But I think what's happening is I'm pulling up. Now see I'm having a hard time replicating it now so I hold and lift up. Nope, it's not going to do it because I want it to. There's a little bit different. Something about the way the bristles on this brush bend, making that mark happen sometimes. If this were a work of art that I was in the middle of creating, that would be an area of concern for me, that the mark I'm going for isn't quite happening as I anticipated. That one wasn't so good and we carry on. I'm not a 100 percent happy with that and so I've been going with the same color because I haven't troubleshot, I haven't resolved what it is about these marks that I'm not fond of. I'm going to try it just a little bit smaller, maybe more slender. It could be this just isn't the brush I'm going to want to use. I lift up a little more quickly, I don't get quite as much paint it seems. I'm going to dip into a different color, just make a subtle change. Very ocean colors, these which makes sense, I live on the coast. I think I would have preferred to do this drill with a different brush, but this is the one I chose, and I based it off of my reference sheets, and yet here we are. I'm not happy. The colors are pretty though. I've got my spacing way off now. I think I've mentally checked out on this one. I have. I'm going to change my brush. I love the color scheme, but I'm going to change the brush. Harmony's good, not happy with brush. This time I'm going to try a Daler-Rowney Sapphire in size 10. Just using cartridge paper again. That first row, where I get used to the size of the mark I want to make and the spacing in between. One of the skills that you'll learn when you do a pattern like this is anticipating where to stop your stroke, and it's hidden underneath the bristles themselves, so it's out of view. You get a real feel for where to pull up, because it can be easy to overshoot and make a really long mark. Something about the the shape of my brush is making this upward point. I've just rotated my brush to get rid of it. I noticed that I was getting something consistent that wasn't quite what I wanted. I'll just change it up. Remember to point your brush on the edge of your dish or palette, do that frequently. When you're doing these patterns, you can turn your brush, constantly keep altering its shape to something pleasing. That's a much more pleasing example I think, I like the slightly smaller strokes as well. Even though they're both size 10, one of them makes a significantly different mark. After you've done your drills with the round brushes, I want you to get your flat brushes out. The squared ends will end up producing a mark that is much more like a manufactured brick. It's also really easy to see the white space in between each of the marks. If you find your marks are not what you'd hope they be, check your brush test reference sheet, have you pick the best tool for the task? If not, try another to create a fresh block of marks. 7. Resting or Hovering Hands: Painting requires a set of hand, wrist and arm movements that go beyond handwriting. If you're typically left-handed, you know that both handwriting or painting can come with unique challenges. For everyone, there are times when resting your hand on the table for stability is not an option.You learn to make the mark with the hand hovering above. It is worth practicing various drills with a hovering hand technique for when you find yourself in tricky situations. Give it a try. It's hard at first but with practice, you will improve and build confidence too. 8. Day 4: Even Stripes: For this drill, and it is a favorite of mine because I love a challenge. We will use a round brush that holds a good amount of paint, but also has a smooth, predictable stroke. You probably want to start with a brush around six or eight in size, both for ease of handling, and to avoid using buckets of paint. The direction you draw your line makes a difference in control. I find that I am naturally more steady when I pulled towards myself because that brings the brush closer to me where my muscles are stronger rather than reaching away where my stability decreases. Also, keep in mind to have total visibility of the mark being made by the brush, rather than trying to see through your hand, and hoping for the best. This first patch of marks is a comfortable length, taking up about a quarter of my sheet of cartridge paper. I'm focusing on consistent width and pressure as well as length of each line and white space in between. My brush is at a comfortable angle towards me, and I make contact with at least half of the length of the bristles. Continue until you've got a row of stripes across the page. Now, spin your paper to landscape orientation. It's time to increase the length of the stripes. Try to maintain a reasonably quick speed for each line. Too slow will give your hand too much time. And you'll likely wobble. It's a perfect drill to practice how much paint to load onto your brush before it goes dry. Long stripes are a great opportunity to experiment with using a hovering hand instead of resting on the paper. You can also try these stripes holding your brush from different angles. Try up right, angle towards you, and from the side. Each has its uses when painting. There may also be times you need to hover rather than rest your hand.. This drill is a perfect exercise for getting better at that too. For these thinner stripes, I'm making contact with far less of the brush, and I'm experimenting with my hand positions. For this drill, I need you to fill your page with stripes. Create patches of stripes in thin even pressure. Then mix things up by painting heavier lines or increasing or decreasing the space between marks. Consistency is key here so all variations on this drill are perfect, as long as you are creating smooth, repeatable lines. Stripes are everywhere, and really satisfying once you learn to control your brush and paint. If you're still a bit wobbly, try breathing out when you pull the line towards you. Also, consider if you've had too much caffeine. Believe me, it makes a difference. What can you do with stripes? Well, stripes happened in lots of situations. For example, siding and roofing for houses, and other buildings, fences, and if you wanted to paint this stern looking woman, you could use stripes for creating her dress, as well as the entry way behind her. Stripes are everywhere, and satisfying to paint once you learn to control your brush and paint. 9. Day 5: Flat Brushes and Variation: We dabbled a little with flat brushes on the bricks drill, but now it's time to focus on the flats. First, let's create a very light guide in pencil on a sheet of watercolor or cartridge paper. With enough practice, you won't need to do this as often because you'll train yourself to create in even rows. Initially, I'm creating a few lines a centimeter apart, half an inch would also be fine. The goal of this is to create something as neat and tidy as little ceramic tiles. I like to paint the marks as close to each other as possible, but don't be disappointed if they bleed a bit, that's fine, just keep going. I'm going to start with a three-eighths inch Pro Arte Prolene flat brush. I've just loaded up my brush with some color. Give it a little dab on the side of the dish to knock off any access. You can see that I'm holding my brush at about a 45-degree angle and I'm just giving it a nice pole and a lift. Pulled down towards myself and lift as soon as I see on, right there at the bottom line. My spacing is off a little bit on that. That's fine. We will get it back. I seem to have plenty on my brush to do almost, or maybe, exactly a full row. Doing this on cold pressed paper. This is the Fabriano paper. Here we go, I've got a whole row, nice and tidy. I'm just going to pick up a different color. Just underneath, But not touching the mark above. Taking that nice muted blew down to the line. Just going to see if I can mix it up a little bit. Because I've got a couple of lines in place. I should be able to pull this off and line everything up even though I'm skipping around a bit. As I said, don't worry if the bleed into each other. This is just practice. There is always more paper. We've gotten a little bit off track of the marks above. That's all right. It's just practice. They don't line up quite well enough now, but that's okay. Green then red, and finally one last little blue. After your tiles, it's time to bring in a little variation. We're going to try a pattern of long, short, long, short. Keep your eye on your spacing, and if you need to put in pencil lines first, that's fine. Lot more watercolor on my brush. We need to correct my brush position because I was getting a little bit bleed underneath before I picked up. There we go, that's better. There are lots of ways you can do this alternating pattern. This is just the way I've chosen to do it this time. That one is going to overlap and that's right. I let my mind wander a little bit and I made a flub there and that's okay. Not worried about it. It's just practice. You can see how you can go on and on with that pattern. This one was done with pencil line guides. This one was done completely free hand. I think I'm satisfied with both of those. Remember to try different brushes if one doesn't feel right and keep referencing those brush test sheets we created at the beginning. Now that you have a few drills completed, I'd love to see your progress in the project area. Snap a photo and upload today. You can always update your project with more progress photos later. 10. Day 6: Angled and Compound Stitches: Everything we've done so far has been using straight marks, but now it's time to bring in angles and changes in direction. This drill is about creating marks that look a little bit like stitches or weaving. I recommend starting with a round brush in anything from about a size 6-10. The mark should ideally be as rounded or at least pretty similar, end to end. Have a look at your marks reference sheet, but also your brick pattern drills to choose the perfect brush for this task. If pencil lines are useful to you, then feel free to create a page of light lines. If you make a test mark on a sheet of scrap paper, just like that, then you've got an idea about the ideal spacing for the lines, based on this sample marks height. I'm pretty comfortable with doing this free hand. That's what I'm going to do for this demonstration. The angle you choose to create your marks should be somewhere between around 40 or 60 degrees. But as you get better and practice this more, you may choose to challenge yourself with other more extreme angles. For this mark, you can see that I'm holding my brush, at an angle. I'm not going at it this way like we were doing with a lot of the straight up and down marks, or even this way because that won't give me the mark that I want. For me, I'm pretty comfortable with holding my brush at a slight angle, using a little bit of the side of the brush as I go. That one went a little bit wonky. Just like we did with straight marks, we're taking into consideration consistency and spacing. That's not so bad for a first go. As I'm filming this class, I'm not warming up before I do these exercises, so I'm coming to these as fresh as you are really. Beginning a second row. Just changed up my color for funzies. I think I got a tiny fluff on the end of my brush. I like alternating colors between the lines because I think it looks prettier. You can of course do this in a single color, though using ink. What happens if I start going upwards? To know other way of doing these marks. I'm not quite as confident pushing upwards. Again, that has to do with, my pulling towards me is my comfort zone. Pushing away for me, uses my muscles in a slightly different way. But it's good to practice both. I can tell where some of my marks were a little bit too long. Actually, I'm getting a little bit shorter as I go. I'm going to go back to pulling down. I'm a little better at controlling my height, pulling down towards me. When I find my mark is a little bit uneven top to bottom. I know I'm getting a little bit lazy with my hand position. You can see, that's really blobby on the top and a little bit more slender on the bottom. But if I pay a little bit more attention, I can get that control back. Getting a little bit quicker. Sometimes if we slow down, we get so bogged down with, oh gosh, I got to get it right. That we end up getting a little bit wobbly. Finding that speed that you work best at, it gives you that consistency. That's something you'll develop through these drills also. I can already see that I'm making progress and my green marks seemed to be just that little bit more consistent and that little bit more confident. After completing a big patch of consistent stitches, it's time to take it to the next level by alternating the direction, to create a zigzag pattern. This is going to be harder than it looks, and one direction will still feel likely more comfortable than the other, but stick with it. I know you can do it. My stitches are mismatched slightly. Just going to see if I can get them back on track. There we go. I've definitely gone and gotten a little bit wobbly in there, and that's okay. Still looks pretty good. Next line. I can go in the direction that I'm not as comfortable with. But, I really like that green and purple together. There we go. I could keep going and keep going with that and build my skill even further. I'm going to call that done for now as an example of the single direction angled stitches, as well as alternating stitch directions, making a zigzag. Your stitch marks can be used in lots of ways in painting, from implying woven materials, to tire tread, stone walls, and more. They're also useful for popping in shadows created by other objects and painting, like stairs. I've created a handful of lines of each of these just for the demonstration purposes. But, I want you to keep going with it. If it takes you a whole page to get this feeling right, to get this feeling comfortable, and to get that consistency built in, then I want you to keep going with it. I've said that this is a 14 day class, but it takes as long as it takes. I've broken it down so that it's a little bit digestible day to day. Because, to be honest, your hand is going to get tired. I understand that, my hand's tired. It's fine. You're building muscle, you're building skill. It's going to get a little bit more challenging from here on out. I want you to go ahead, make sure that you've got everything that we've learned so far in the drills, feeling comfortable, feeling confident, and then we're going to move on. 11. Day 7: About Talent and Compound Curves: I have a confession to make. I used to be really lazy about keeping up my skills. I got to a point in my art where I could draw or paint pretty much anything I wanted to. It made me lazy. I stopped practicing and people would still compliment my work and say, "Oh, that's beautiful or, you have such talent and you know what? It sinks in and it makes you lazy. So don't fall into that trap. Keep practicing." I had to basically reprogram myself to do the hard work again, to keep practicing, to do the drills, to make sketches. You've just got to draw everything, draw everything, paint everything that you can, lots of things that are uncomfortable to you. Just do it. Drills, they're meditative, but they're also not the most fulfilling thing you can do. I know we all get impatient. We want to jump right into creating something spectacular. But you've got to keep up your practice. Don't fall into the trap of getting lazy. Talent is earned through effort. So do the drills. Saying that, you're doing great. You're still with me. You're doing your droves, we're doing the hard work and now let's kick it up a notch. Changing directions smoothly in a single stroke is a challenge for your muscles. Ever tried modern calligraphy? Transitioning from one direction to another is tricky, but with the right drills, you can get much more comfortable with the movements. Using a pencil and ruler, mark some lines on a page about an inch or maybe four centimeters apart, something like that. I'm just going to use the width of this particular ruler because it makes it easy for me. Go get some lines down. I'm using my number 6 data around the sapphire brush and we're going to start with a gentle, shallow S curve using the round brush. The goal is to keep the same pressure. The same width of the stroke throughout the entire mark. Just a nice gentle curve, so that you can feel the direction change. You have a nice, consistent stroke, top to bottom. It's okay if it's ever so slightly pointed where you initiate the stroke. That's just a quirk of a brush and it's fine. Just try to keep the body of the S curve the same width. We're looking for it to be a nice, gentle curve. I don't want to see points. Don't do something like that, where it's a little bit more pointed and then a little bit more rounded here. I want you to make it really nice and fluid. If you run out of space, that's fine. Or maybe you want slightly wider apart lines to start with, that's fine. You can work your way down to smaller size. Nice and smooth, so no points like that. You can see there's a point there and that's really sort of messy-looking. We want that nice gentle glide. Trying very hard to keep the same width of line the whole way through the character. That's a pretty good one. Continue the drills in your lined area. If you find yourself tensing up, holding the brush really tightly, just take a breath, losing your grip and get on with it. It can be really easy to get a little bit bogged down by perfectionism. Just going to cover that over so I don't get watercolor over my hand. I'm going to do one more line in a different color. Mostly just because I love this green and purple combo. I want to give myself a chance to get just that little bit quicker. Nice consistent pressure. Start to finish on the mark. Great stuff. Next, what I want you to do is, make the changes in the curve a little bit more extremes. So we had really shallow S curves here. I want us to deepen that a little bit. Create deeper curves. We're just going to try and get a little bit deeper. It's okay. They don't look exactly like S Just try and get a little bit more extreme with it. It requires a lot more of your muscles to create that consistent mark. You might find also that just rotating the brush in your fingertips slightly. I'm doing it just a really gentle twist maybe with the brush because as you set the brush onto the paper, you flatten the bristles in a certain way and it may assist you to just twist it slightly as you go. I find these very challenging. The gentle curves, easy-peasy. These deeper ones, quite a challenge, especially in a short space. Saying that, what happens if we go a bit deeper? I'm going to do a double line height. There we go. That feels much more comfortable at least with this particular brush. Just looking for nice, soft, rounded shapes with a consistent mark width. Really extreme on that one. There we go. Might just try some more free hand. Like others are looking really good now. I'm also not touching the paper anymore. I think I find it a little bit easier to hover and pull the brush around. Because if I'm setting my hand on the paper that I'm limiting my movement. I'm not even giving my wrist much room to manipulate the mark. But if I'm hovering above, I can twist around a little bit more. Once you've done shallow S's and deeper S's we're going to up to the challenge that little bit more and we're going to go the opposite direction. Instead of me starting this way moving to the left, I am starting from the left and moving to the right. I'll start with my shallow marks, trying to keep consistent pressure the all way through. Try this one hovering. When I hover, I tend to bring my grip up a little bit higher on the brush also on the very last Mark. I like that one a lot. I'm going to go deeper and I'm going to do a double line height for this one a little bit. Well pointing on that one, that's better. If you have a center line, remember that your transition between the two humps of the S needs to be happening on that line. A little bit before and a little bit after it. There we go. I'm just making up my own size now, going with what feels right with the brush, the actual bristles of this brush, I'm going to ignore lines completely. That's lovely. I find this direction really challenging a much better with starting on the right, moving towards the left and then going over, but that may not always be the mark that I need. It's not always the right answer that you can just turn your paper upside down or whatever. Sometimes that's not an option. Tried practice, uncomfortable marks, she never know when you'll need them. If you want to take this further, you can try a different brush, a bigger brush, you can try with your flat brushes, Whatever you do, try and make the stroke consistent and keep your pressure even. We're going to get into varying the pressure and width of a stroke very soon. 12. Day 8: Extreme Changes in Direction: Painting with a fluid medium such as ink or watercolor requires efficiency with your brushstrokes. The more you dab or use broken marks, the more you will disrupt the beautiful fluid effect of the medium. The way to avoid this is to learn to twist and move your hand in ways that creates fewer strokes. In this drill, we're going to dramatically change directions with our hands to build muscle control. To make really graphic marks, I'll be demonstrating with flat brushes. Alphabet letters, shapes are a great way to practice changes in direction, and for this example, I've chosen the letters U, V, and N. Let's start with an upside down U. I've already mixed some paints up and I'm using a half inch short flat from Daler-Rowney Aquafine range. Now the upside down U can be used for all things, whether you're painting architectural arches or cartoon rainbows. You notice that I'm starting with my brush slightly angled away from me, and I've got my fingertips so that I can see the contact the bristles make with the paper. I draw away from me and then twist the brush with my fingers and wrist to create the arch, and then pull towards myself to finish. Up and away from me, twisting and pulling towards myself to finish, nice and smooth. This can be done with a smaller brush and resting the heel of your hand on the paper first, but I encourage you to try this with hovering. By hovering, you'll engage more of your arm and more muscle control over time. You also get a greater range of movement. There we go. A little bit different color there. The idea is to try and get the thickness the same all the way around, and you'll notice in this first example, it's a really nice smooth painted shape. On this last one, you can see these little bands. Bring it a little bit closer. You can see these little bands, that's where the brush has stuttered. Because I hesitated, it paused, paused, all the way down. You get that ringed or striped look to it. However, if you can keep the brush moving and keep yourself nice and fluid, you won't get [inaudible]. I got a little bit of that mark there. Plenty of paint on the brush and angle away from me. Turning everything trying not to slow down too much, and that one is a bit smoother than that one. If you get the little stripes, I wouldn't worry about it too much, but try to keep your speed nice and consistent. If you're getting a lot of those little stripes, you might be trying to big of a shape. What happens if I try? I'm trying to twist really tightly on that. Now go around and down, that looks pretty good. Now you can see how it looks a little bit ragged on the bottom edge of where I leave off. An easy way to avoid that, I paint a trail around, I snap the brush in the opposite direction, and drag up some nice clean finish on both instead of that little bit of a ragged edge. We'll do that again. Away from me, twisting, pulling towards me and snap back up into it. There we go. Nice blunt ends. Now that you have the hang of doing an upside down U, let's try it right side up. That way if we want to, we can have some variation in a pattern. Getting a nice full load on my brush, little dribble there just dab that off and we go, nice full load. The bristles are saturated but it's not so much that drips off in my hand. If we do a right-side-up letter U same principle, slightly angled brush, turn. I actually find this trickier and then bring it back in. I'm going to see if I can get it without so much stripy business in it, here we go. I find the upside-down ones a little bit easier the way I move, not bad. You may not have exactly the same brush as me, so I'm just going to change it up. This one is a Cass Art branded a half-inch. It is very similar to the Daler-Rowney short flat. Looks like it might be just a tiny bit shorter bristles. Let's see how it does. Nice chunky U. The part that's the hardest is making this part of the term, because that is requiring you to bend the brush and your wrist. Everything needs to move. If I pull towards me and up, pretty good. Here we go. Just do a few more. Really nice and solid, and you'll get better with every one that you do, because I've got mixed colors on my brush. I have this almost beautiful muted rainbow effect, and that one, it's pretty. Let's go that way again. As an extra challenge, what about making a continuous turning line? You can see the brush is turning in my fingertips. Now I'm just running out of paint. That's a really satisfying or a connected shape. See if I can do that again. This time, I'll try starting from the opposite direction. That's where I run out of paint. All of the examples I've done so far of the character U, I've done without any guidelines. However if you want to draw guidelines on, you're welcome to do that first. That gives you a definite floor and ceiling for each one of your characters. But I think you can get pretty good results doing it freehand if you want to save that step. The letter V can be done in different degrees of height and width and embodies a skill for sharply changing direction without lifting your brush. If I start by pulling towards myself, you'll notice that then at the very bottom of the V, the point of the V, I flip my brush to head the other direction. I use one side of the brush, the underside of the brush on the way down, and then I flip it and the top becomes my new underside of the brush to press upwards. Like this and then back up. Now I got a little bit rounded on that one. We're going to go down and back up. That one was a little bit more slender. Down and back up. That's the stuff, that one's a little nicer. Down and up. You notice that I am still hovering. I'm not resting my hand on the paper at all. Down, flip, and up. Down, flip directions, and up. Just like the U if you wanted to try and sharpen that top edge, you can do it by popping back up and pulling down. Down, change directions up. Nice and clean. Now what if you want to vary the stroke width on the letter V? You can do that. You can start with on the point and then changing like that. Pull down, and then push away. You can tidy up that top edge again. On the tip and then backup against itself, and that looks pretty cool. Can you do it the other direction? Sure. But here's the key. You need to make sure that the actual, it's called a blade. The blade of the brush is at an extreme angle. So if I were to try to make a V with a directional change, with it being pretty straight across, I can't because my brush is actually pointed that direction, so that wouldn't work. What do I have to do? I have to spin the brush in my fingertips so that the angle is more extreme. Down and now I can press up. Down, I'm pressing up. Of course you can connect these things. Down, up, down, up, down, up. This is really good when you're doing patterns, or even repeated shadows like maybe on stair treads or roof lines, those sorts of things. It's a very good mark to be able to create. N is a tricky letter because it has multiple changes in direction. But it's really like creating a pair of overlapping Vs. To achieve it in a single stroke, start by pushing away, then pulling towards you, and then pushing away again. The brush will use one side of the bristles, then the other and then the other side for the final upward mark. I've changed to a longer bristled brush just to make sure I've got lots and lots of paint on there. You can do it with whatever flat brush you've got. I just want to show you a slightly different one. It's got a little fluffy bit on there. I'll just pull that fazz off. There we go. Pushing away from me, and then up on the tip changing direction, up on the tip, and you saw there was a tiny twist there, and then up again, and then I'm just going to tidy the top. If you don't get it tidied quite right, you can end up overlapping. We're going to practice that again. Up, down and up again. That's pretty satisfying. Up and down and up again. I ended up getting a little blob there. Up, down. Pretty nice. Of course you can tidy this up so that they're perfectly straight. But the point we're doing today is just to make sure that we can create these letters in a single quick stroke. If I wanted to neaten everything up, I could of course go in and maybe tidy things up. But I do run the risk of getting blobs in my letters. I'm going to try and steer clear of that. Up, down, and up again. Nice and clean. Since I've got this really big brush, what about if we want to go with a little flat brush? Now let's see how that works. Same idea. Now you have a better chance of being able to touch your paper and still have enough range of motion with a smaller brush. But I'm going to try hovering anyway, and of course I go up on the handle of the brush, so I'm not right down here because I don't have any control down there. That's when things get sketchy. If I am holding up here, then I've got more motion, more range. Up, down, and up again. That was ugly. Let's try that again. Up, down, up again. Much better. I find the little one really tricky. I'm going to try it resting my hand. I'll have to get a little closer to the ferrule. Up, down, and up again. Yeah I think the little brushes are just harder. If you're tempted to try a smaller brush, either to use less paint or you think maybe it'll be easier to control, it might not be. I mean yeah, you'll use a lot less paint of course. But it might actually make for a difficult character. Down, and up. Now can we connect these? Of course we can. Can we alternate from using the bottom of the brush to the top of the brush, to the bottom of the brush, to the top of the brush, back and forth. I'm going to try that chain of Ns with a different brush. So I'm going to go back to half-inch flat, and I don't have a lot of paper without overlapping. Up, down, up, trying to keep my characters all the same height. Looks good. There you have a U, V, and N, all letters that help you practice extreme changes in direction using your hand and your wrist and your arm, and also completing these characters in a single stroke. 13. Days 9 & 10: Pressure Changes: Everything we've studied so far uses a consistent pressure. Now it's time to change things up a bit. Each brush has a unique mark making style, longer bristles around our ends, synthetic or natural, all have the ability to change your marks dramatically. Yet we often blame ourselves if a brush doesn't make the mark we want. It's a two player game. One between your technique and the brush construction. When using a brush for variable pressure marks, all of the characteristics of the brush combine with your skill and technique to make the mark you want. If you cannot get the mark you want, try a different brush. Keep practicing. The exercises in this chapter are worth two days of practice. Controlling pressure changes takes time and I have several marks for you to practice. Some of this will feel almost like calligraphy, and one mark in particular is one you may have seen in another of my classes. On a sheet of cartridge or watercolor paper, give yourself some lines to work within. These marks are all going to be done with a round brush, something between a six and 12 should be just fine for size. We'll start with a simple curved mark that start thick to thin. Try to keep your marks the same depth in the curve as well. For this exercise, I'm going to use daily Rownfy's FW acrylic ink in indigo. The brush I've got is one of their sapphire range, so I'll start with that one and this one is a size 6. Getting a nice amount of ink on the brush. I'm not going to bother putting it in a dish because I'm not going to dilute it. I'll just go ahead and dip right in. Sometimes that means I go a little bit too deep and it gets a bit messy. I expect some blue ink on my fingers. We're going thick to thin. So we start with pressure and at the same time we're bending and about midway, we start lifting up and pulling around to the right press and to the right press and to the right. Thick to thin. We're looking for consistency here. Can you make these marks neat, tidy and repeatable? Because that's the point of drills. This brush seems to be doing a pretty good job at getting me what I want. I will try a different one, just for comparison. Waited a little bit late to start curving that one, mid stroke. If you can speed up a little bit, maybe I can't because that one was terrible. It's alright. It's just practice. Being lazy and there's not quite enough ink left, but I'm trying it anyway. That's not so bad. I think I will try a different brush though, because as I said, if you're not getting the mark that you want, you may need to try a different brush. So I'm going to try another in the sapphire range, but I'm just going to go a little bit bigger and dip into my ink. This one might have been overly optimistic. In fact anything it'll work really well down here on my double height lines. So we're going to try that. That's the stuff. I'm resting my hand on the paper, but I'm also raising the brush up and just tickling the surface of the paper with the point. Press really hard somewhere around mid mark is when I'm beginning to lift up. We did a little bit late on that one. There we go. This pressure is much more capable with the larger marks than these little ones. It just doesn't come to enough of a taper for me to get the tail that I'm looking for. Back to the top, I'm going to try some more with a different brush. This one's quite stiff. Not sure how this one's going to work, but we'll give it a go. This is another daily round brush. This is a number 6 aquafina. Just going to pop some paper over what I just did down here so I don't get water or ink all over everything. That makes a very slender mark, not enough of a difference. No, that's not the brush for me either. This is an older version of the sapphires and one that I've used a lot. It's a little bit duller at the point. You can see I definitely don't have enough loaded into the bristles, bring this a little closer to me. Better. Really like that top line, but everything else so far is not quite the practice I want, so I'll keep going. You're doing a couple of complicated things. You're changing your pressure and you're changing direction slightly. Really valuable exercise. Great. Now, the idea with these is to try and get a nice smooth transition. They curve almost like a leaf or a feather, so nice and gentle. When getting used to these marks, it's okay to just do them on a piece of scrap paper. I do that a lot, anytime I've got some paper that I've used one side of, I often use the backside to do drills on. Practice those as much as you need to. You can do a whole sheet of them, but I'm going to show you the next one on the line below. Now, this one is also thick to thin, but we're going to try and go the opposite direction. I find this really hard, I'm just going to be honest. That one was a little bit hard looking. There we go. Not quite enough paint on that one. So you want to fairly generous paint load in your bristles because you're wanting to load right the way up the brush. That way you've got some paint to rely on in the middle of the brussels. I don't know what happened there. As I said, I do find this direction a little bit more challenging for me. That's fine. Couple of them got wild, but that's okay. Again, practices many of those as you would like, you can do hold sheets at these things, and you can probably guess what's coming next. I'm going to start them thin and end them thick. Very light pressure as we begin them up, and beginning to increase the pressure as we get close to the middle of the mark. Actually, it's a little bit sooner than the middle of the mark. But increase the pressure and then lift up. This one looks chunky. Even though this is my older brush, I really still like how it handles. I can get a really thin stroke with it, even though it doesn't have much of a point anymore, it does flatten out pretty neatly, and the opposite direction. Jane, you're terrible. We all have things that we are a little bit better at. Clearly, this isn't my forte. This fourth line, you can tell, I don't practice this mark in this direction very often. But hey, this is reality. I'm not going to pretend to be good at everything that I show you guys. Well, it's obvious which one I need more work on, isn't it? You can tell him just getting impatient with it and I'm just like, whatever. That one is going to be one that I focus on for myself. I do lots of these kinds of draws. This one is done in inks, so I was using some Daler-Rowney FW acrylic ink, to make these Indigo marks, and, I used some Dr. Ph. Martin's Bombay India Ink for the yellow marks. What can you do with this mark? Well, being able to control thin to thick is great for creating leaves and other floral details. You can see with not a lot of effort, you can create beautiful leaves using your thin to thick variable pressure. Next is an old favorite of mine for variable pressure practice, a thin, thick, pulse chain that I call the well-fed snake. Remember that, if your marks are really difficult, try a different brush. With this pulsing mark, try to be sure to have symmetrical thick parts. This one's a good example, so it's rounded top and rounded bottom. Try to avoid having a flat edge like on this one here, you can see it's fairly flat across the top, but it bulges on the bottom. But the one previous, that one is rounded top and bottom. That's what we're looking for. I like to say no flat bits on the fat bits. I love making this mark. It's rhythmic and makes a great-looking pattern. You can see I'm physically lifting my brush for the thin parts. I've got my brush at an angle and I'm going horizontally, because that feels comfortable for me. Thin, then press and then lift up consistently down. It's hard to talk while you're doing it, but giving it a shot. A little bit more paint. Again, I'm trying to get a nice tip on my brush, so I just rounded a little bit on the edge of the dish. That also helps to get off any drips. Try it a little bit more upright. I am touching the paper with my pinky knuckle just for a little bit of stability. But it is one that you can try covering. But that's really hard, I'm not going to lie. I'll do one more with this big brush. I'm going to go back to resting my pinky. It's a nice smooth, quick motion. Going to change brushes, change colors. See how this brush does. Not a lot of variation, but that could be desirable. Maybe try fat, thin. I'm trying to alternate them, and I did not get enough paint on my brush. Shame on me. That's starting to look pretty cool, oops. I paused too long in the middle there, that's all right. Almost looks like water. That would be a good use for this technique. Now, I've given that brush a good go, but I'm not sure I like it, so going to change up. It's a new brush, so I'm not worried about matching up with the line ahead of it. For that when I change to hovering. I try a little bit smaller. Do it like that, so I'll try it again. This is an exceptionally good exercise for building control. It may frustrating at first, but give yourself time. That's why this and the marks we just did, where it was fat to thin, curved. That's why I've given you two days for this, and there we go. The well-fed snake, which looks really cute as a pattern. 14. Day 11: Combining Pressure and Compound Marks: The previous couple of drills have been about varying pressure with a single mark. But now let's combine two for a really interesting drill. I'm getting a nice load of paint on a round brush. This one happens to be a pro art, prolene plus, I may add and I'm using a little bit of Payne's gray. The basic mark is just like we did with a thin, thick pressure. So we go around, pressing down, to the side and then we go back up to the top, pressing down into the side until we connect. Now we've got that bottom heavy circle. That one wasn't too bad, let's go again. A little bit more paint on my brush, so again, from the top, press around, notice how much contact I'm making with the paper and I didn't quite connect it there, so I'm just going to tidy that up and the best way probably to tidy it up is to go over the whole thing or not. Maybe I shouldn't have done that. Lets go again. Now these are really organic, so don't worry too much if they look a little bit wobbly. The idea is to take two strokes and connect them so that they create one shape. Every time I go back to my dish, I just sharpen my brush on the edge to make sure I've got that nice point. Plenty of paint on my brush from the top down and I'm pressing around, lifting up and there we go. Now, are there other ways to create this shape? Of course, there are. If we wanted to try it in one continuous stroke, let's try that. Down, press around, carrying it and not so successful. Maybe I've gone too large so let's try that again, a little bit smaller. What I've done is I've skipped on the paper so my bristles actually got stuck to the tooth of the paper which is remarkable because I'm using a hot press paper which doesn't have much tooth at all but still it depends on the brush you're using. I'm going to try again for a continuous and this time I've started with my brush angle a little higher. That wasn't my smoothest work but it's becoming more possible with every one I do. My hand is still resting a little bit on the paper. I'll change brushes and we'll try it again. These were done with two marks in the Payne's gray and in the Alizarin crimson, they were done with a single mark, not particularly successfully so we're going to try it again. Much more successful with a different brush. Now it's also a pro art brush, but it's a different range. That nice point on my brush holding upright a little bit more because I want to be able to press and see what's happening around as I bring the brush around. Try a slightly bigger mark. Look at that, beginning to feel my way through the way this brush moves. So now I'm letting the brush do a little bit of the work. If you really watch the way I press and I drag the bristles around, they twist upon themselves and then as I raise up, I make that connection. Let's try a few more. Now these are creating the mark with a single stroke, sometimes more successfully than other times. I'm just going to tidy that one up no one will know, pretty good. Now what happens if I want to make that same mark, that same shape, but I want to do it in two pieces like I did with the Payne's gray? Let's just try that down here a little bit. Not quite what I'm looking for. I also think my paint is a little thick no more water in that. Not bad. The additional challenge of doing it in two marks to create the shape is your going in one direction and then the other direction. You may be more comfortable with moving in one direction than the other. Still a good thing to practice though. I wouldn't go really junky. All right, I mentioned that different brushes can behave a little differently. Let's try it with another brush, one that I know is a little stiff. That's given me things I don't want and actually that doesn't show up that well on camera. Let's go darker yellow. I have to work really hard to get that one looking good in two strokes. It doesn't want to. What about a little thinner. This brush is working better than I thought it would. This is one of the Daler Rowney Aquafine round brushes. This one is a size six. Not bad. See if we can make it happen in a single stroke with this brush. Really tricky, but a pretty good shape. This is why we do so many exercises, so many drills with how to raise and lower the pressure evenly in order to create shapes like this, which you may or may not ever want to do. We have to control the muscles pretty carefully in our hand and arm. Whether or not you ever decide to make these shapes in your art, I promise that learning the muscle control is always worth it. Little tiny. Trying it with two colors will give you this really organic look. I mean, sometimes the pigments want to blend together nicely. Sometimes they're a little blurry looking. But regardless, it's a really fun exercise to try and actually mixing up the colors a little bit can give you these really beautiful strange results. Let's try that now. Going to continue with the Aquafine round in size six from Daler Rowney. If I do a nice big chunky. I haven't quite got enough on the brush. That's all right. I'm going to see if it's still wet enough, no. Let's try this again. Because I've got gold, my brush. I'll start with the gold. Perhaps metallic were not the place I should have started, but that's fine we're just going to keep going. Again, I don't think I've got quite enough on the brush, but it is still bleeding in. That's ultramarine and paints. I'm just going to go back through with a bit more the paints. You can see just by repeating, you exercise. We're getting better. I think these last few are pretty successful. Something to consider if you are not getting the result you want, change your brush, and for this one, I'm just going to show you an example with a Chinese goat hair brush. Nice, big amount of paint on it. And if I draw down and around, it's a really loose brush. Marks it makes are really organic. If that's what you're looking for, then okay. But if you're looking for tidy it might not be the one. Let's try one more with that brush. This time I'll go from the side. Press around so you can see it's got this really organic edge. Because of the type of brush, it's much more prone to this wobbly edge. Here's one more. This is Rosemary and Company brush, this is a series 304. Try this as a continuous mark. It too is a really soft brush, so it's a little more prone to organic nuance than some of the other brushes I had been using. But it can make for a lovely, interesting mark. Actually that looks quite good. There are some brushes that aren't up to the task. One of the ones that I'm thinking of is also Rosemary and Company brush. But the style of brushes just a little bit different. The bristles, you can see the way they spread apart and you get this sort of fox tail look to it. I'll do that again in a darker color. It trails around nicely, but as I begin to lift up, you can see the bristles spray out a little bit. It makes an interesting mark, but it's not what I'm looking for. Everything I've done so far has been with my hand touching the paper, but I encourage you to also try hovering hand. You'll raise your fingers up to about mid-brush. I did not put enough paint on my brush. I'm going to try that one again. It's a bigger brush, so it takes a lot more paint so hovering hand. A lot of coordination needed to make that change in pressure as you circle around. Not bad, a little hard to control at the end because I don't have any stability. My blends might not be quite as attractive but worth a try. I love these two color ones, especially the ones that are a little bit more subtle. When reviewing the results of this drill, have a look at your negative space, the white middles are they messy, lumpy. Do they have points? If so, you can go back and practice the pressure changing marks in the previous section, but with more extreme bends this time around and then try these lop-sided circles again. You will get the hang of it. 15. Day 12: Nested Circles: Circles are one of the most satisfying shapes to paint, whether it's as an outline or filled. Let's get right back to our steady pressure marks. This time, instead of straight lines, we're going to focus on creating circles. This is a lot trickier than it sounds. This drill is about consistent pressure, but also about making fairly symmetrical circles. I find circles, especially larger ones easiest if I'm doing the hovering hand technique. With a round brush, create a page of practice circles until you become comfortable with making an even shape. Avoid eggs or flat bottoms. If you're struggling, pause and ask yourself where the trouble spot is. A flat, oblong or eggy circle can usually be fixed by starting it in a different place. For example, if you normally start drawing the circle from 12:00 o'clock and head anticlockwise. Then perhaps try clockwise or from nine o'clock and clockwise. A simple change to the starting point and direction will present different and often better results, because you're not relying on preprogrammed muscle movements. You'll create new muscle movements. That's part of what these drills are all about. For doing these circles, I typically prefer to do a hovering hand just because it gives me that distance I think I need between myself and the paper to make things just a little bit more smooth. If this is uncomfortable for you, then feel free to go in and be a little bit closer. However, you will find your range of movement is diminished, so it may be easier for you to make two part circles, if you are resting your hand. I encourage you to try the hovering hand though. Do try to get a consistent width of line as you circle around, literally circling around. While these are all fairly even, if you do find that you're struggling remember what I said about trying in a different starting point on the circle. Also, if you normally try clockwise, try counterclockwise or anticlockwise. You will find what works best for you. The little ones are a little tough with the hovering, might go in a little bit closer. I brought my finger position down just slightly on the brush, still hovering. My thinner little ones are not quite as smooth. We'll try that with the two-part. This exercise is a lot harder than it looks. Circles are not easy. We are definitely more inclined to have egg shapes or flat bottoms or something slightly less symmetrical. Even drawing with pencils, it can be tricky. Take your time with this one. Don't get frustrated. Try starting at different points on the circle, and in different directions. Here is where I started with my circles. Just after a handful of doing the circle drills, handful of pages. I'm much, much more confident with my circles now. Got a page of good-looking circles. Now it's time to start nesting them like the rings of an onion. For beginning your nested circles, you may as well take one of your practice sheets with the single circles and start there. This too is harder than it looks. If they start to go a little bit elliptical like that one has, don't worry about it. Just continue with trying to keep your white space consistent and your line widths, looking good. Start with a few at a time, but you can challenge yourself to keep stacking circles until you run off the page. Overlapping them in different colors can make an amazing and beautiful pattern. 16. Day 13: Advanced Practice: Take a moment and reflect on how much you've practiced in almost two weeks. Spread out your drills on a table and check out your progress. This deliberate practice is making a huge positive impact in how you know and handle your brushes. The next time you paint a full composition, you'll feel an increased confidence as you work. These skills have become part of you and freed you up to concentrate on other areas like composition, values, and enjoying the process. Painting will be less stressful because you now have a level of control that feels like the brush is an extension of you, allowing you to focus on making better paintings by handling your brushes like a pro. For this drills chapter, we'll create a few playful and advanced marks that can be a joy to practice as a warm up or simply for fun. First, a wiggly line. This line can transform from a steady pressure mark that bends and twists like a river on a map, or can incorporate the pressure changes of the well-fed snake drill. Try twists and turns, and remember to change brushes, if your marks are not nice and smooth. Let your hand and brush wander across the page randomly. But be mindful of creating fluid transitions. The wiggly line drill leads us to a more standardized mark which takes its influence from calligraphy, thin into thick into thin across the page. Try alternating the height of the peaks and valleys for a more interesting result and challenge. How about turning some of your pressure changing marks into leaves? Leaf marks use the skills from days 9 and 10. Try the leaves freely on a page or in rows like a more structured drill. Don't forget to try the opposite direction. If you only practice one way, that's going to limit you. Is there a way to create a simple pattern by combining a couple of drills? Pick a couple of marks, change the colors as you go and enjoy the beautiful results. What about using a mark that you feel confident making, but challenging yourself to creating a page of beautiful changes in color as you go? I started a sketch book devoted to this and it is so satisfying to flip through. 17. Day 14: Create and Compare: Remember when we started this class and I asked you to paint this wooden doors surrounded by bricks. Without looking at that early painting, I'd like you to paint the door photo again. Now that you've had two weeks of drills practice. Pay attention to your mark making the way you twist and bend your hand, the confidence of your strokes. Tap into all we've learned. You're watching a time-lapse of my second painting, which in reality took just under an hour. Remember to take no more than an hour. This is only to show your progress not to be a masterpiece. When you're finished, sign and date this second version and then have a look at the two paintings side-by-side. What did you do differently? Did you use fewer strokes to achieve the results you wanted? Did you work more quickly this time? I know my second attempt shows more depth, bolder color choices, more personality, more confidence, and looks like someone who has practiced their craft. I painted more freely because I wasn't using the painting as practice. I practiced through drills and it made painting the subject so much more enjoyable. I'd love to see your barn doors side-by-side in the projects along with all your other drills. You've worked really hard these couple of weeks, so upload your practice and be proud of your achievements. The rest of this short chapter will be silent as the demonstration time-lapse process continues. But I wanted to show you how I tackled the painting from start to finish. There is no drawing first in my example, but you're, of course, welcome to sketch your door lightly before painting. 18. Bonus Project: Drills Skills Sampler: I'm from a crafty family. My mom was brilliant at yarn, fabrics, sewing, and quilting. I remember her needlework on the walls and her quilts on our beds. That reminds me of a beautiful tradition called the sampler. A needlework sampler is a piece of embroidery or cruft stitch produced as a specimen of achievement, demonstration or a test of skill in needlework. It often includes the alphabet, figures, motifs, decorative borders, and sometimes the name of the person who embroidered it, and the date, that's from Wikipedia. With that definition in mind, it is your time to shine with a drills sampler to show off as your specimen of achievement. You may want to start with a light sketch to divide up your paper first, or of course, feel free to go wild and start free form. I have a drills sampler that I've layered on the same piece of paper over and over by recycling the paper. After the drills are done, I rinse it under attack and remove the heaviest paint, then lay it on a cookie rack to dry it flat. Each layer that is washed away becomes a pretty ghost image underneath the fresh paint. I think I've rinsed and reused this sheet of paper three, maybe four times already. I like saving pennies where I can and this little trick is especially useful if you want to try your drills on a more expensive paper. All of your hard work has led you to this and it's your time to shine, I can't wait to see what you create. 19. Final Thoughts: [MUSIC] Thank you for taking watercolor workout, 14 days of drills to advance your skills. No matter how long it took you to complete this class, I know you've improved your skills. The best thing about learning these exercises is that you can do them anytime. Unsure what to paint? Do some drills. Got ten minutes before heading out the door for work? Do some drills. Need to relax and hide from a chaotic world? That's right. Meditate with your drills to bring some peaceful order and progress to the day. Seriously, you just got to do drills as often and as creatively as possible. It all matters. Also, when you're scrolling Instagram Pinterest, watching YouTube or wherever you see artists you admire, effortlessly painting flowers, landscapes, calligraphy or whatever, remember that your seeing one tiny moment in time and not the hours of practice, it took that person to get to that place in their work. For every rose you see painted as if the artist had been given the talent by the universe itself, there are stacks of ugly attempts in the recycling bin. Don't fall into the trap of comparing where you are now to their specific and publicly celebrated moment. They had to learn and practice just as you are now. The best secret of all is that they still practice too even if you never see it online. Keep it up. Take a drill each day and make it yours. Get creative with it. Push yourself to improve and rest your hand when it tells you to. Take this class in 14 days, seven days or a drill a week for months, you get to decide what works for you. Your journey is yours. Just keep moving forward. I would love to see every step you take in this class. Upload your drills photos before and after and skill samplers to the project's area. I do my best to check out each one and I can't wait to see yours. Thank you so much for taking this class, trusting the process, and giving yourself the time to improve. I love making these classes for you and if you found it helpful, please leave a positive review. Share the love and others will find it. See you again soon and have a great day.