Painting Loose In Watercolors | Jean Lurssen | Skillshare

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Painting Loose In Watercolors

teacher avatar Jean Lurssen, Jean Lurssen Watercolors

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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.



    • 2.



    • 3.

      Your Composition


    • 4.

      Let's Start Painting


    • 5.

      The Finishing Touches


    • 6.

      Five Thistles - Stretch Your Creativity


    • 7.

      Finishing Touches


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About This Class

This course is all about helping you unlock your inner creativity and discovering ways to make your watercolor paintings unique. If you struggle with painting loosely in watercolors let me show you how to loosen up and have some fun creating interesting watercolors that leave things for the eye to interpret. I will do two demonstrations of the same subject - one leaving some white space on the paper and one covering the paper entirely, and leave it up to you as to which you prefer. At the end of the course I also will include a few videos on interesting ways to create texture in your watercolors that will help you become a more creative artist. We are only going to use three colors for this course, which will create harmony in your work.  


Class Outline

  • Introduction. In this class, artist Jean Lurssen will show you how to paint flowers by way of her watercolor painting techniques. You will learn what is unique about her methods and how to truly foster your creativity. The project involves producing two watercolor paintings: one that fills the paper, and another that leaves more white space.
  • Materials. If you don’t already have the materials, jot down each item, and head to an art store. For this project, you will need:
    • Prussian Green Paint
    • Quinacridone Magenta Paint
    • Quinacridone Gold Paint
    • Regular Table Salt
    • A Small Spray Bottle Filled with Water
    • Paper Towels (or preferably, an old towel you don’t need)
    • Masking Tape and/or Clamps
    • Big-Mop Paint Brush (Size 30 or comparable)
    • Filbert Paint Brush
    • Round Sable Paint Brush
    • Hogs Hair Paint Brush
    • Cold or Hot Press Watercolor Paper
    • Cling Wrap
    • Mats for the Final Pieces

Consider buying small pieces of paper for practice paintings, and larger pieces for your actual project. If you don’t have the materials listed you can improvise and use whatever you have on hand.

  • Your Composition. Make sure to watch all of the watercolor tutorials before you start painting. This decision will help you learn more quickly and save paper!
    One of the best ways to paint something is to study an actual photograph. This course will help you practice this method. You will learn about the elements of composition and principles of art that are useful in any design, including the value of odd numbers, pencil sketching, and texture.
  • Let’s Start Painting. Now it’s time to get messy. Lurssen will show you every step of watercolor painting: pencil sketching, wetting your brush, dabbing paint, mixing, and modifying edges with wet strokes.
    Her demonstration illustrates the unique process of watercolor painting. To keep pace with the drying process, you will need to work quickly. To create more texture in your art, you will also learn how to use cling wrap.
  • The Finishing Touches. In order to mesh with the textures left by the cling wrap, you will need to modify aspects of your painting,. This process involves using many light, delicate brush strokes. You might need to modify and remove bits of the watercolors. In this situation, spray bottles come in handy.
  • Five Thistles: Stretch Your Creativity. In any art form, grouping elements is important, especially watercolor painting. By working on the five thistles pattern, you will understand the value of certain visual structures.
    Use this second painting to practice techniques and improve your art. Then you will see how salt plays a role. Let loose, and don’t worry so much about how the piece turns out!
  • Finishing Touches. To polish up your painting, it’s essential that you remove the salt. This task can be a little difficult and rough on your hands, so be careful.
    Even if you are tempted to make changes, try to be reserved. Minimalism is one of the key principles of watercolor painting.
    You will finish by learning how to place your painting in a mat.



Meet Your Teacher

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Jean Lurssen

Jean Lurssen Watercolors


Welcome to my Skillshare channel. I hope this is where you will find inspiration to explore your inner creativity to create unique watercolor paintings.

I like to paint atmospheric watercolors and continually try to stretch the boundaries of watercolor, sometimes using other media to create interesting textures in my watercolors. I look forward to sharing my techniques with you here on Skillshare.

For more tutorials, tips and techniques visit me at:

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Level: Beginner

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1. Introduction: Hi, I'm Jean Gerson, and I've been painting in watercolors for more than 20 years. Now, in this course, I'm going to show you how to paint loosely in water colors. We're going to paint this thistle painting, and I'm going to show you how I created thes textures in the leaves and we going to paint waiting wit, which is fun because some of the color from the thistles were bleeding into the background and just make for more interesting painting that leaves more for the eye to interpret. He has a close up of the fizzle painting where you can see the textures that are created with the materials that I'm going to demonstrate and how the color of the flowers bled slightly into the background. I just like the way that happened. It was happy accidents. When you're doing waiting way to get to these happy accidents, I'm going to do to demonstrations one where we full the whole off the watercolor paper and the other one we're relieve some white space and you'll be able to decide which one you prefer by using your imagination and finding ways to stretch the boundaries of water colors . You can make your painting's unique. Unlike oils and the critics, you can add other mediums, toe water colors to create textures and interesting results. At the end of this course, there'll be a video on different ways to create textures in your water colors. So why don't you come and paint along with me now and find your inner creativity? Let's have some fun. 2. Materials: Yeah, the materials that were going to use for this demonstration. The paint's our oppression. Green quinacrine, magenta and quinacrine gold. You'll need some regular table salt, which we used to get these nice little floral markings on the water color. A small spray bottle that you can buy at any drug store that gives a missed type of spray either your paper tile or old towels that that cut up. I tried not to use paper towel, so I cut up hotels and you can see how grey they are cause I've watched them over and over . You can tape down your paper to a board with masking tape, or I use 10 2 years four of these. I just find that more convenient. I'm going to use a big mop brush. This is actually a size 30. You could use any size you want. Really, I just like to use the biggest brush that I can, because that's what makes you paint in a loose style. If you use a little tiny brushes, you're going to do induct doing too much detail. I'm going to use a filbert brush, Filbert brushes rounded at the edge like this and thats I use for getting the general shape off the thistles. I find that very useful. If you don't have a filbert brush in the round, brush will do a May or may not use my number 10 round sable brush. We'll see. But I definitely will use my hogs hairbrush that you can buy at any hardware store for about 50 cents. And I use this to put the textures in at later stage, which you will see later on in the demonstration. Oh, and I almost forgot. We also going to need a roll off cling film. Very important. This is what we're going to use to create texture in the leaves. With regards to the watercolor paper, you can paint this scene on cold pressed or hard pressed paper. I paint most of my paintings on hot pressed paper. I just love the way the pain sits on top of the paper, and when it's dry, the colors seem more vibrant. I did this test piece on hot pressed paper, and I always do a test piece before I do my larger painting, and you may want to consider that because it helps you to loosen up and so you don't ruin your big sheet of paper. I normally don't keep the test pieces. I send the murders birthday cards. But I really like this one. So I ended up framing it. I like the composition, and I liked the way I'd left some white space. And this is one of the demonstrations I'm going to do. So you can do this on either cold press or hard pressed paper, whichever you feel comfortable with. And don't forget you also need to containers of water, one for cleaning your brushes and one for mixing paints. So now that you have all your materials together, let's start painting. 3. Your Composition: Now, before I start doing the first demonstration, I want to suggest that you watch the video off this first demonstration through to the end . Before you try the exercise yourself. I think you that will help you be more successful since we doing awaiting word process, which is which can be tricky. And you wanna watch how I do it and maybe even watch that watch it through more than once and then attempt to do it yourself. So let's get started. I thought I would just start off by showing you two photographs of thistle so you can see how they look. A Z a growing. And you have this beautiful magenta head with specks coming out of it, and it and the flower head comes out of this bulbous, spiky green part of the plant. As faras the plant goes, I wanted to just show you this photo are took. It's to show you how these little spiky butts come out of the stem here. Now we're not going to paint this in a realistic fashion. We're going to do the impression of thistles in a very loose style. But it is good to know what the plant looks like so that when you've completed your painting, you and others will be able to recognize what it is. Even though it's done in a more Impressionist, almost abstract way, you'll still know it's a thistle painting. Another thing you need to decide about is your composition. Are you going to do just three thistles like this? Leave a bunch of white space, or are you going to cover most of the paper with the stems and and do a whole bunch of thistles? And I love this painting. Um, it's sold as soon as I did it, and I love the way I created the texture here on part of a flower and so on. So you really want to decide that before you start? Otherwise, you can get into trouble. So you want a good composition. You want uneven numbers of flowers? 357 whatever it is you want to do. And I would suggest you take a pencil and very lightly mark in where you're going to do the flower heads so that when we're gonna put the background in first, which is a very pale quinacrine and gold, and then we're going to paint waiting toe wet with the flower heads, and it's just going to run like it did here and create some great textures. And it's just going to be very loose painting and real fun. So mark in with your pencil where you're going to do your flower heads, and once you've done that, we can start painting. 4. Let's Start Painting: Okay. I just want to show you how I've penciled in where the flowers are going to go. And I've made each one a different size, which just makes for more interesting painting. And each one is a different distance apart. I haven't done 123 I've done a cluster of to and one by itself there. No. The first thing we're going to do is you want to wait your brush and just with the paper all over. Not to wit. You don't make a to wit because the paint will run too much. And, um, the first color we're going to apply is the background. We want a very pale quinacrine and gold mixture, more water than paint. And you just want to go around the flowers like this and just randomly, unevenly put in a background like that. You even go down here because then some of the green will mix in with us and make it more interesting. Now we're going to put in the flowers with the magenta, and you don't want too much water on your brush because there's a lot of water on the paper right now. And if I put down If I have too much water on my brush and this is too watery, it's all just going to run into each other. So we want black, a thick a mixture that and is in the background, and we just want to roughly mark in the flower heads. And the other thing that I'm going to do is clean my brush and go into the background and just touch the edge of these flowers so that the color so there's not sort of rigid edges and the color will run into the background. You can even tip your board up a little bit to make it run. You just want to tease the edge of the flowers and just sort of it. Also, it also makes it dry with no hard edges. And I just kind of like many wounded just makes a little bit of this up into the background , and just dragon like that, you can you can wiggle your board around until you get it the way you want it. I kind of like it the way it is now, so I'm not going to do any more than that. Clean my brush off and now we want Teoh got into the Passion green. You're gonna work quickly now because we doing waiting wit, and we're going to also not too thin. Um, mix the Prussian green and start just putting in some leaves. Do some spiky things there you see in this flower here it made it's own little bubble bursting under the under the what's name and this. My pain should be a little bit thicker because there's a lot of water on the paper right now. But I'm just going to basically do a couple of spikes that you see on thistle plants, and I'm not going to do any more than that that that that's running a little bit there. So I want to be careful not to tip the board too much, and I like the way these bulbs things under the flowers have just kind of blossomed out. Now you want to take your cling wrap. This is where you need to cling, wrap and stretch it this way like this and what that does. It's going to create some texture. Do you see you? Can you see that happening there? It's going to create what looks like, um stalks and What I'm going to do actually is cut off some of this paper here, hanging over and just continue it up like that. Keep greats interesting textures and pull a piece off. Going this way like, see, that gives an interesting texture. They I think I'm gonna leave that we don't, We don't We don't overdo the textures and just kind of wiped that a little bit. Robert in the background so we don't get distort the flower shape too much. But I like the way that runs into the background. I think that's gonna drive very interestingly. And we going to, um, get some interesting textures Now you can maneuver this once you've put it in place. Don't disturb that one too much. Um, you can. I think we need to put a little bit there. You can maneuver it said to make it look like it's coming off one stork and then going up, which could be interesting. I don't want to do anything more than that. That's enough Now. Now you have to be patient and let this dry completely. I'm going to leave it for about an hour, and then we're going to put in some of the the spikes that come out of the top of the plant . I love the way this texture has run in to the background black that if you can actually see this, see there and that there is going to drive beautifully. And in the in the next section, we'll just put in a few spikes here and maybe a few specks on the green area and splashing some texture here and you'll have your first thistle painting, so I'll see you in the next lesson. 5. The Finishing Touches: Okay, now that the painting is dry, I've taken off the cling wrap and you can see these lovely textures here. And I don't want to interfere with them too much because I like what's happening here. Um, I think what we're going to do first is create thespian X coming out of the flower heads here. So I'm going to take my hogs hairbrush. You see this? This has got Really? It's a really rough textured brush. It's it's got rather hard bristles, and you can get very nice textures with it. So you just want to very lightly weighted in in wipe off the water on your paper towel and take some very thick, um, quinacrine and magenta, and I would suggest you try out on a piece of paper first. How are you going to do this? Because we want these spikes coming out of the flower, and we don't want to get big blobs. So you wanted to to be quite thick, the paint like a creamy thickness, you see, and we can get these nice results like that. So I would suggest that you try that on a piece of paper first and then, um do it on your painting because you don't want to ruin what you've done so far and you don't want to do too many. I'm just get It's just going to be a suggestion of spikes like that is going to do If you here well like that. And this one also, I'm going to do just just a little bit, and I think not going to do any more than that except maybe just there to hide the the pencil. I like that very much Clean off your brush. No. Might used the, um, hog's hair brush again. Wipe it on motel tall and go into some off the green depression green. Just wipe it off, wipe it off and maybe do do if you spikey things coming out of, um, the plants like that. And if you don't like it, you can actually even wipe that off with some water. I much and I think we need something like that and I'm going to just spread a little bit to defuse it so it isn't too realistic. Would be careful not to spray your flowers. Kind of like that. The way it is Now what? I'm also going to do with my, um, hogs. A brush is do a little a few splashes here and maybe just an around here and maybe even on the actual green area and maybe some quinacrine and color as well, just to for some diversity. And you might want to spritz that as well, just to let it run a little bit. Andi, that's all I want to do. Really? Now there's your first painting, and I rather like this. See if we can get a closer look. I really like that. It's a lot of fun, and I hope you enjoyed during this first painting. Now we're going to I'm going to demonstrate another painting where we're going to cover the whole sheet of paper and do about five flower heads, and it's gonna be a little trickier. But we now that you've had practice on this first demonstration, hopefully you will be able to master a larger painting. So I'll see you in the next lesson. 6. Five Thistles - Stretch Your Creativity: Now I just want to go over the composition again. You see this painting? We're going to do something similar to this where we use the whole of the watercolor paper . And if you see how I have composed us, I've done a group of three and a group of two. And that makes for a better composition. You don't want 12345 or 123 and or sevens whatever you want to do, you can do your own composition. You can do something down here, so decide what you want to do for your composition. And let's start painting Now, This time I'm not going to pencil in the flower heads. I'm just going to with the paper all over, like we did in previous painting. I'm going to take some very thin mixture off the quinacrine and gold and fill it into the background again. Maybe put some down here and okay, I'm going to actually just my big brush this time to put in the flower heads. So I just want a little bit of water on the midget, quinacrine and magenta again. Remember, there's already water on the paper which is going to dilute your flower heads so you don't want to dilute the many further. So you want quite a a strong mixture off. Um, make this one a bit bigger. Do a big one up here and maybe a smaller one here. Now that's getting a little thin again. So this winner do that. So no, we're going to do the same thing that we did last time. Which your number 10 brush your for your small Abrash, whatever you have, and it's just tease some of this into the background. Say we get Cem variety of color in the background, and you also don't get any hard edges on the flowers. You go around the make sure there's enough water on your brush so that it will blend into the background. You can help it along by just adding a bit more water and pushing that into the background . Or if you prefer the little cigs eggs that are there, maybe we'll just do this one on this side. So it comes a little bit where a little like that, Yeah, kind of. I think that's enough. I like that a bit more. I like it when it just blends. And so now we're going to clean off our brushes again. Make sure you always clean off your brushes in between each step and we're going to put in the some Stens and it's it's coming down this way. And then we're going to just do you cover the whole sheet of paper. And don't forget we're going to do a couple of spikes going there. And you see how that naturally makes these little bulbous things that on the bottom of the , um, thistles there, um, So let's just cover the sheet as much as we can maybe go up here. We do. You don't want to, um, be too hasty. Just sort of see that patterns that are forming as you go. I like this nada. I don't want to do much more, but what I want to do is something a little different. I want to drop a little bit of the quinacrine and gold just for some interest into into the green. Look at that. Isn't that fun? Just creates a more texture really like that a lot. Now you want to take your cling foam, and because we've covered most of the sheets of the paper. You really don't want to creaked. Make the texture too busy. So many going to protect your in some areas. I'm going to take a piece and go here like this. Spread this out and I may just do a little kind of over here and let it just and in And then take your table salt and very lightly. Don't overdo the table sold thing. You you can overdo it. Put a little bit up there a little bit there, and let's just see what happens when that dries. I like that design a lot. So I can see from this already that there's going to be very little else that we have to do . Maybe I just want to not make this a straight line. You know, Just put that together like that. Make this go this way a little. There you can You can maneuver this as I said before and get a nice get the pattern going that you want so again patients about our little drive and then we'll finish this off 7. Finishing Touches: Now that the paintings dry, you can see what's happened with the salt. It's create these fabulous textures over here in the cling wrap created these leave so stems or whatever you want them to be. And it's not too busy and there's a nice combination of both. And I'm really happy with how this painting came out, So the first thing you have to do is remove the salt on. That could be tricky because it really sticks to the paper and it's rough on the hands, but you really want to get rid of it all. First, just wipe it off with your toe. Make sure it's all gone. No, we're going to I think the only thing that we really need to do here are the spikes in the flowers. And remember, we're going to use the hogs hairbrush for that. Just very lightly weighted. Dab it on your towel and get a thick mixture of the corn acrid in magenta. Always practice on your little sheet of paper first to see you've got the right consistency , and that looks good to me. And I'm just going to do this, Yeah, Do you want? You really don't want to overdo it and make it look too realistic. You just wanna maybe just a little hint there on that one. Um, and maybe a little hint here. Just a little hint going out there. Now. I don't want to do any more on the flower heads, but it's just see if we need anything here in the in the green areas. And I don't think we need too much. I think maybe just up here we might need some spikes. Definition of the spikes there like that on and maybe going make a couple of spikes coming out of the flower heads there. I don't want to touch this, sir. I love what happened here. Just naturally thing. I think maybe up here you may want to do something not to match their because I like the patterns that go along here, actually want to spritz that a little bit because it's a little bit too harsh. And this one here too, said that runs a little bit. And that is basically you're painting. Don't forget to sign it. Nothing transforms a painting more than a nice, crisp white Matt before you go out and buy one, though I would suggest that you look at your painting and see if there are any areas you want to cut out that you didn't like, how they turned out. Take your tape measure and measure what you're inside. Measurement off your Matt will be. You may be lucky enough to find a ready cut, Matt, which is less expensive, or you may have to order one cut, but bear that in mind before you go out and get a mat for your painting. But I was lucky enough to use a standard. Matt and I just like the way it transforms your painting. Once you put that math there, it just brings out the painting. I hope you enjoyed this course. I hope you enjoyed painting along with me.