Watercolor Painting on the Go | Chris V | Skillshare

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Watercolor Painting on the Go

teacher avatar Chris V, Artist, Designer, Maker

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

    • 1.

      Watercolor on the Go- Intro


    • 2.

      Your Project


    • 3.

      Tools & Materials- On the Go Painting Kits


    • 4.

      The Sketch


    • 5.

      The Paints


    • 6.

      Painting the Background


    • 7.

      Painting the Foreground


    • 8.

      Painting Details 1


    • 9.

      Painting Details 2


    • 10.

      Final Details


    • 11.

      Painting from Pictures


    • 12.



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About This Class


Hi there and welcome to Watercolor Painting on the Go! In this class, I take you outside to paint a live garden scene. It’s fun to paint while you’re traveling or even around own town. There is sure to be something inspiring just around the corner, and if you have your paints, you can capture it in your very own unique way.

You'll learn how to sketch out your scene, assemble an "On the Go" painting kit, and take your watercolor painting from start to finish while on location. Plus I’ll share over a dozen bonus tips with you about color, depth of field, and much much more.

If you’re not able to travel or you have images that you’d like to paint from from a previous trip, I’ll share some my thoughts about that as well.

This class is for any level of artist wanting to get mobile with your watercolor paints. It will give you the skills you need to capture your world, whether you're on vacation or on your lunch break. 

I can’t wait to see what you create! 

Chris V.  ; )

Meet Your Teacher

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Chris V

Artist, Designer, Maker



I'm Chris V., a watercolor artist, designer, online instructor, and desert dweller living on the outskirts of Las Vegas, Nevada. I'm the creative behind OctopusConnection.com, the online wonderland, where I've brought together my watercolor courses, watercolor membership, and other fun projects.  Creating art has been a lifelong passion for me, and I'm so excited to be sharing what I've learned over the years, with you!

I have a no-pressure learning environment, so you can safely share any project, ask any question, or comment without the threat of feeling judged or not good enough.  We all have to start somewhere; I did! You might be really surprised by what you can do when you take the chance and try. I can't... See full profile

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1. Watercolor on the Go- Intro: Hi, I'm Chris, and I'm so excited to take you outside for watercolor painting on the go. It's fun to paint while you're traveling or even around town. There's sure to be something inspiring just around the corner. And if you have your paints with you, you can capture it in your very own unique way. In this class, you'll learn how to sketch out your scene, assemble an on the go painting kit, and take your watercolor painting from start to finish while on location. Plus I'll share over a dozen bonuses with you about color, depth of field and much, much more. If you're not able to travel or you have images you'd like to paint from, from a previous trip, I'll share my thoughts about that as well. This class is for any level of artists wanting to get mobile with your watercolor paints. It will give you the skills you need to capture your world, whether you're on vacation or on a lunch break. Watercolor Painting on the Go. I can't wait to see what you create! 2. Your Project: Your project in this class will be to paint an outdoor scene that inspires you. I'll be painting this garden scene. You can either paint while you're on the go or paint from a picture if you're not able to be on location. Follow along with each video while I show you step-by-step how to assemble an on-the-go painting kit with easy to manage art supplies, all the way to adding the final touches to finish off your work, and everything in between. And I've included over a dozen bonus tips to share with you along the way. Either way, I'm really excited to show you this process. After you've painted your project, you'll need to upload it to the project gallery. Of course, you don't have to share it, but I really hope you do. It'll cause you to grow as an artist and could grow your community as well. You can upload your work by going to the Projects and Resources tab under the class videos and clicking the green Create Project button. You can make your project Public or Private by clicking the box at the top. From there you can upload a Cover Image by clicking the Upload Image button. Then select an image from your browser. Below is a slider that can make your image larger or smaller. Just slide it back and forth until you're happy with the way your image looks, and click Submit. Then you will need to add a title for your project. It can be something descriptive or clever. Below, in the larger field, you can start writing about your project. You can write about your experiences, your process, how you enjoyed the class, et cetera. At the very bottom you'll see buttons to add additional images. You can add as many as you like. To add a video button to add a link to a video, for example, on YouTube or Vimeo, just paste your link into the field just above the button. The other button will allow you to post a link to another webpage like your social media accounts, for example. When you're all finished, don't forget to click the green Publish button, which will complete your upload. And that's it! Now it's up to you. I cannot wait to see what you create! 3. Tools & Materials- On the Go Painting Kits: Say you wanted to go over with you the evolution of my travel painting sets. And I started out with this one about 56 years ago. It's a nice zip around. It was actually a school supplies pouch, but it worked really nicely for what I had going on. So I'm just going to open this up so you can see the inside and you can see there's lots of really cool flaps and pockets. And this is where I kept my paper. So these are sheets of watercolor paper I just kept stacked up in that little folio like folder thing. These are for extra little things I picked up along the way. I get my eraser and here also. And then on the other side, I had my paint set, which is my favorite Winsor and Newton tube set. It's a bit heavy, but it was really very easy to carry around in this in this set. And my paint brushes, I used to have a lot more of them in here, pencils and other things like that. In this zipper pout, I was able to keep my pencil sharpener. So I didn't want to lose it in one of those open pouches. So that was, that was pretty handy. And then of course, paper towels, things to sub of water with. I had an extra pouch here that I never used and that was that I was able to zip it up and go. However, after a while it did get bulky and I needed something a little bit more lightweight. Say went to a smaller Winsor Newton pan set and this closed notebook that came with a magnet. My trip to Oregon was super fun and I did a lot of beautiful paintings. I'm not going to go into all of them, but just to show you the kinds of kinds of sketch pads you can get, I will be gluing those pictures to those pages at some point. But that's the watercolor set I used. And you can see it's about, gosh, a third of the size of the other one, its way lighter. And instead of tubes, It's pan sets. So it's a lot less messy. One paint brush and some paper towels. I had to find a cup or a water bottle along my way. So but that was pretty pretty easy and pretty compacted through on my backpack or tote. And that worked quite well. From there I discovered the viva color sheets and their close sketchbook. Now, there's a lot of sketchbooks available, but this is the Viva brand sketch poetic combination. Sketchbook that works very well for watercolor, have little pouch that can either throw my paint set in or a paper towel or, or something, something thin and carried around. There's an elastic band that keeps it shut. The paint set itself comes with 16 super saturated colors. There's a tab so I can easily quickly find the colors as I'm painting. And then there's a sheet In-between the colors to keep them from running into each other, which is really great. And then way in the back is a stick on color palette. It's cardboard. It's like a glossy cardboard. See, I had to cut it out and stick it on the back page and it just folds nicely. I can wipe it clean with a wet paper towel whenever I'm ready to clean it off and it just sticks out while I'm painting. So it's super easy to use. Very lightweight. These are literally just sheets of paper, so it's super lightweight. And then when I'm done and it's dry, I can just close it up and go. And the water brush has kind of become my secret weapon when painting on the go because I can fill that barrel with water and I can paint for over an hour. There's a cap that keeps my brush safe. And when I'm ready, I unscrew it, take off the seal and fill it with water again and I'm good to go for another hour. So that's been great. And then of course, paper towels, I will be transitioning to rags sometimes soon. So you stay more eco-friendly and to save as much paper as possible. So you can see I could just literally throw this in a pocket and I'm good to go. 4. The Sketch: So this is the scene I'm going to be painting just a simple garden, kind of a serine sort of looking scene. And it's overcast. So it's going to make for some very easy light lighting conditions. You pretty even. And I'm going to start out by just drawing this tree on the side. I like to kind of sketch out the larger things. This is that shorter retaining wall going across. You can see I'm not wasting any time. I'm just diving right in and putting my major larger pieces in here. That is the top of the bird bath. And I'm just keeping this very lightened sketchy so you can, I know you can barely see it, but I don't want to make these pencil marks to dark yet, if at all. From here I'd like to start sketching the statue. And I'm just going to give it a general shape right now so that it makes sense in the general composition of my painting. Now the beautiful thing about all of this is I can move these items around. I can scale them differently. I can make them different colors as we talked about earlier. I can kind of do whenever I want with this painting. It's my representation and it doesn't have to look exactly like this scene looks. So I think this one is just a little bit too large for this painting, but that's fine. I really want to highlight the statue because it's pretty much the focal point of the entire painting. So I'm just taking my time a little bit with the statue because I want it to have a realistic feel. It's not going to be perfect. I just want all of the all of the parts of the statue to be in the right place and the scale that I want it to be in. Right? And then moving on to the base. So this base is pretty ornate, but I don't have to make it exactly the same. And now I'm going to go move on to the foreground where this plant sort of shows depth by covering a part of the statue. So I'm going to let those long, curvy stem-like leaves just cover the base of the statue. And then I've just realized that the base of this statue goes right into the retaining wall where the statue sits, and I don't want it to be that huge. So I'm going to only show part of this base which is fine. It doesn't have to be a certain size or whatnot. I'm going to just leave it at that on the base. Go ahead and add my little ornate almost lily pad looking curvatures in there. Give it some definition. And that's about all I'm gonna do with that. So now I can really define this retaining wall where it's it's kind of sitting in a flower bed up there. And I want that line quite that dark, so enlightening that up. And then regarding the wall, I'm not going to make every single block in this wall. I'm just going to literally show a few blocks here are a few blocks there. And that will tell the story that this is a block wall without me having to do all of that detail and take up all of that time. When I want to just show a quick representation in that brick was completely wrong, going in the wrong pattern there. For it to be somewhat realistic. Think I'll put one up here. Great. Now I'm going to do some blocks to show this retaining wall is a slightly different brick. And I'm probably going to even make it a different color. We'll see how how that turns out. And now getting a little bit more detailed with this bird bath, it was way too large in comparison to the statute. So now I'm going to just tighten it up and make it just a little thinner and smaller. So it's there, but it doesn't take up too much of the visual space in this painting. Just completing the Kirby pedestal and stem. Okay. And you see the pagoda just pass the bird bath there. I'm going to leave that out. And that's another thing you have artistic license to do is just if you don't want to include them in your painting, just leave it out. It's just too much it would just be too much in this on this little page. I'm just adding a few more shrubs. Maybe went up here to add a little balance. And we are ready to paint. 5. The Paints: I've got my paint set and I want to quickly go through it to decide on my color palette. Burnt umber and raw sienna will be perfect for the browns that I need. I will be using black to darken some of my areas, and some greens. All of these tabs are in order, so if I just leaf over to the tab, I know exactly where to go to find my color, which is really convenient. Then I open up my palette. The way hold it, I put my fingers in a scissor position because it's so light, I don't have to worry about being too heavy. Then my place my thumb to support it somewhere away from the paints. My paper towel is just above my palette so I can quickly access it. This is perfect for standing up. I'm actually going to be sitting down, so it'll be sitting in my lap on my sketchbook, and I'll show you how that works in the next video. 6. Painting the Background: Now I'm just diving right in by adding water to the paper. And I'm going to start with this back wall. It's like a rusty brown color, and it's the largest area in this whole painting that's the same color. So that's why I'm starting with it. I kind of want to block it out, basically, no pun intended there. But I want to see where everything is going to land in relationship to this wall, because that's basically what's going to happen. So just adding water so I can spread that paint around. Anywhere where I've drawn some bricks, I'm going to create a little bit darker area just to highlight them. I want this wall to be very irregular and color, so it shows some character and some something interesting for the eye to go to. I don't want it to be too perfect, but I want it to be fun to look at. I'm going carefully around this shrub on the bottom left. I don't mind painting through some of the top of these leaf branches, but I don't want to paint at the bottom at all. I want that to be pretty green down there. And you can see I'm carefully going around my statue. I've decided, I'm not even going to paint this statue. I'm going to leave it as a negative space item, so no color at all, just pencil marks. And the same with this bird bath, because they are very close to the same color in real life. I want to kinda keep them as a contrast to everything else going on. And I've added a little bit too much, a little bit more color here than I intended, but that's okay. It's going to be actually a good way to contrast the statue from the rest of the painting and from the wall. It'll differentiate it a lot. Now, obviously this would be faster with a larger brush, but that's not really the point. The point is convenience and speed. I mean, in one way I lose speed. But the fact that I only have this one brush, and it's super light and it has the water in it, and it's an all in one tool does add as much or more speed as having three or four or five different brushes that I have to tote around with me. I'm not going to get too much color on the right-hand side because I want the tree to be there. So we'll see how that goes. And now I'm going to start creating the dirt and the flower bed. I want it to look different than the wall color so you can see it. Well, the first way I can do that is to make it darker. So I'm going to add a little burnt umber. A little burnt umber to the the burnt sienna, so that I can add some saturation to it. I left some spaces on this right side of the ground. That in case I want to show the tree branches coming through there, I'm not sure what I'm doing with that yet, but that will give me some options. I've decided I'm going to go ahead and paint this tree with this black, slate black, keeping it very light. So it turns out to be sort of a gray color. Have you ever seen those trees with a gray bark? That's what I'm going for in this in this one. Of course it's not the exact same color as the tree, but that's not the point. The point is to make this my representation. Now that's a bit more black than I wanted. So I'm gonna go ahead and push it downward to the rest of the trunk to even it out a bit more. I don't mind it being darker towards the bottom, but I don't want too much saturation at the top. And that's a great start. I'm just experimenting with a little brown to see if that works. That just looks too much like the wall color. All right, just don't like it. I'm going to stay with black. Again, these are split-second decisions you can make on the fly as you're going. 7. Painting the Foreground: Now that the backdrop is set, I'm going to start with the foreground. So that's going to be the areas closest to us. And I'm dabbing just a little yellow on this ground as I'll be doing at the bottom when I get there. It's going to make the ground little more irregular than the wall color. So at stuff, if you look at the ground under me now you can see there are rocks and different colors. And I want it to look like that. So I'll be adding some darker colors later on too, but I want that to dry before I add any more to it. So for the foreground, Let's see. I'd like a very similar color to the flower bed ground. So I'm experimenting with both of these. The umbra and the sienna. Being careful to go around this bird bath so that it remains on painted. And I am going to let that dry before I add any more paint to that. So I'm going to migrate. I'm decided to make this retaining wall a very light gray. Again, to make it I mean, I've got to have some kind of a different color between the ground color, the wall color. It's all going to start blending together and looking the same if I don't add something with some contrast. And as I'm going close to that plant on the left, I'm leaving little areas where the green can kinda come through without covering that whole area. Again, staying away from the area where the bird bath is going to be. You can kinda see the shape of it starting to emerge. Just adding little bits of wall color, but not getting too much on that area where the plant is going to be. So I don't have to fight to paint that green. And just I've decided to fill in this ground on this side, I'm not going to do any tree trunk or anything. It's just it's gonna make it too complicated. And you can see me cleaning my brush in-between colors by just adding a drop, one drop of water on my paper towel, and then just sort of gently rubbing the brush, the synthetic fibers, just the pink comes off very, very, very quickly. It's pretty awesome. Just testing to see how wet that area is up above and it's actually drying really nicely. So I'm gonna go ahead and start painting some leaves. And I'll see you in the next video. 8. Painting Details 1: So I'm starting with the leaves on this tree. And I could absolutely draw a paint these perfect, perfectly shaped leaves. But that's not the look I'm going for here. And plus I really want to go as quickly as possible. So I'm going to start with a lighter color, green. And I'm just making these irregular, leaf-like shapes. Quickly just dabbing, dabbing the page. And it can go quite quickly once you get started. I have slightly spit up this video. But even so, it went pretty fast. And getting all the way across this tree. I don't want it to be too perfect as far as shape either. So I'm going to add some irregular leaves going downward. And they do partially covered this trunk. So I'm going to go right on top of the trunk. And now that some of this light green has dried, I'm gonna go back with a darker layer of green and fill in some of these blanks where the paper is still somewhat white. And as this dries, I'm going back with darker and darker shades of green, which also adds to the depth of field. So the lighter the color, the further it recedes into the distance, and the darker the color, the more it comes closer to you. So it's going to give this tree some feeling of three-dimensionality. And it's really shaping up. And it's a little bit of a game of patients, but it's also super relaxing when you just commit yourself to just keep dabbing and dotting until you have filled these spaces. And again, adding some irregularity with these leaves coming out at jutting, kinda getting out at different points. And I'm going to add some water and start smearing some of this together. This will help fill in the white hey, paper area that's still visible. And make this look all sort of connected. The darker colors will still pop and the lighter colors will disappear into the fading. And I'm going to go ahead and start this shrub down here. It's a desert plant. So it's leaves are more like proms. And I'm going to keep my strokes thick at the bottom, thin at the top. And I'm going to allow that to dry so I can add darker strokes to that as soon as it's ready. Then add another plant down here on the right. Smaller one. You look around this position. I'm going to fill in some of the wall over here just a little bit to wait. Now that I've gotten all this other color in spelling in just a little bit of there as well. Don't wanna get too dark, though. Isn't going to add some irregular colors to the ground, which is essentially rock, just like beneath me right now. All of these different shades of brown tones. So I'm going to add a little bit of yellow, a little bit of dark brown, little bit of black. So that the eye can see that this is an irregular ground cover. Again, it's just a little bit of a game of patients, but it's so worth it in the end, it looks much more textured and realistic. When you've gotten all of those colors in there. Now I'm just dabbing and dotting it. Just completely random spots. I don't want it to look too planned out. And this concludes the first way of painting details. I will see you in the next video. To continue. 9. Painting Details 2: I'm going to continue on with these ground, these rocks on the ground. Just adding some smearing those marks a little bit so they blend in a little bit more on my brush and wet spot. And I'm going to go back to my shrub on the left. It has dried now and I want to add some dark prompts to it to give it some three, three-dimensionality also. And I'm going to make these a little thicker, really pop and they start filling this shrub shape. Or say I want the bottom to be all green and no paper showing, so it's showing the fullness of that shrub. I just wanted to make sure these are nice and solid here and you can't see the ground or the wall behind it through the, the, the, the prawns. And I'm going to add another little shrub next to the statue. He get tiny. So again, smaller things will look further in the distance and larger things in the foreground. Closer to the bottom, we'll look closer to you. I'm going to add a few more darker leaves also to this tree. While I'm at it, I got this green on my paintbrush. And get me it's just a little bit more now that I've darken this shrug. These are decisions you can make as you're going forward. Skipping my brush a little bit of a cleaning and I split it a little bit. So just cleaning that up. Little bit of water and absorbing with your towel will should do the trick. And you notice there's a white separation between the gray perimeter wall and the ground. So it's just working on filling that up top and bottom. It's better already. Back to my plants. So that little shrugged his joint already and I can add the dark, darker, darker marks to that. Second good. And add even darker ones to this one on the left because that's, that one's the most prominent one. And then of course, the one by the fountains. And I realized there should be an illusion of some fallen leaves below this tree. So I'm just going to dab some green on the ground as well. Just just going to make them go every which way. Like they've just fallen off the tree and they're just laying there. And that concludes the painting. I will see you in the next video to do the final details. 10. Final Details: So now that all of the painting is complete, I'm going to go ahead and outline my two negative space shapes, which is the, the statue and this bird bath. By negative space. If you're not familiar with negative space, It's basically using your background as a color. It sees a ton of time. If you're able to do this on the go, this is a huge time saver and it's, it looks cool. That's a cool effect. Normally I would use an archival pen like a micron pen. And archival pen means it won't. It won't smear if you add water to it, if you have to add paints over it. So archival is a permanent ink that doesn't get damaged with water. But I chose I felt like it would be too strong of an outline for the rest of the painting. I thought pencil would, just, since these are both very light gray, I would, this pencil will bring it up beautifully. The graphite, the gray graphite will be the perfect accent for these shapes. So I'm just going through, I'm not going to make them perfect, but I'm going to put enough detail that they stand out and that you can see that they are beautiful shapes, beautiful items out here in this garden. So just finishing up the pedestal on this, forgot. Starting on the statue. We're going to start at the top with these round shapes. Hubble's like, I don't know what they're supposed to be beads maybe. And work my way to. The next element on this statue would be the vase, hair. Just taking my time. These subtle details will most definitely be the highlight of this illustration, even though they'll be, like I said, the most subtle, There's no paint on them. They're not super colorful. And yet, because they are left on painted, they're really going to pop. At the same time. They're also going to blend really well. If I'd use black to outline this, they would have popped off the page completely and I wanted them to feel like they were part of this garden. I'm taking a little bit more time with this statue that I would normally a tree or something else that could quickly for tray with a few strokes or whatnot because this statue is special and it really tells the story of this garden. It's a very peaceful, serene place. That spiritual and just very peaceful. Adding to the base a little bit. And you can see very well, this statue is much less than perfect. But you can see there's a face. You can see that he's holding a jar. You look up close that the arm on the right is holding the charge. And the pedestal is a little bit ornate. And now we're gonna move on to a little bit more detail on this perimeter. This started with this retaining wall because it wasn't really clear that it was a wall all the way across. And then darken this, these blocks up here a little bit more. This for a little bit of pop that paint kinda cover the pencil lines I had originally made. Just want to make sure that it's very clear. These are block walls and I'm going to just smudge them. She just a little bit to soften these lines. I don't want them too perfect. 11. Painting from Pictures: Sometimes you get in a situation where you've gone out to paint somewhere and you're all set up and you're in your zone. And then you get interrupted. There are lots of situations where this can happen. The light is fading or you've run out of time for some reason. This is when I pull out my smartphone and take pictures of scenes that I want to capture like this one. The sunlight was going behind the mountains and I couldn't capture the saturation and the pictures, but I remembered them in in real life. So I was able to capture that in the painting or this one. When I took this image, I was mostly interested in the shrubbery, but realize the mountains behind it with just a spectacular. So I ended up capturing both in a painting later on as I had to leave that area quickly. Here's another example. In the same area, I was able to snap the picture and then later on capture the scene as I remembered it. This desert flower was so unusual, it really captured my attention. The blooms are just like little pods at, open individually. And I thought who is really interesting? Plus the base of it is like a lot of desert plants. So I was able to capture in a painting. But you'll notice the paintings tend to look a lot different than the photographs like this cityscape. My painting was a lot more lightly saturated than the actual image, and that's perfect. You'll find that your paintings from photos will turn out the way you want them to churn out and I wouldn't work too much to get them perfect. Make them your impression. That's what makes your painting unique. Here's another example of a forest scene that I was able to paint from an image at its one of my favorite ones. 12. Overview: Thank you so much for spending some time with me painting outside. I really hope you enjoyed the process as much as I did. Let's do a quick overview of everything we learned in the class. Use watercolor supplies that are fun and easy. Hold your supplies comfortably for longer painting. Use a limited color palette to keep it simple and quick. Add partial detail to tell the story. Show depth of field. Change your elements if they don't work. Use wet on wet to cover large areas of the same color. Change the color of your elements if they don't work. Create color contrast to add interest. Use dabs, dots and lines to save time on details. Blend color in large areas to quickly fill gaps, and use pencil or archival ink to bring out subtle details. I literally cannot wait to see what you've created. Don't forget to refer to the Your Project video for all the steps to upload your work to the project gallery in the class. Your Review would be super helpful, so I know how I'm doing, and how to improve future classes. Oh and, please hit the Follow button so you don't miss any updates on those. Watercolor Painting on the Go. Thanks for watching and see you next time.