Watercolor for the Absolute Beginner

Learn how to capture the beauty and radiance of watercolor in this watercolor for beginners online course—even if you’ve never painted before! Professional watercolorist Annie Strack will provide you with realistic watercolor instruction, watercolor tips, and take you through the essential techniques and concepts of watercolor painting. You’ll learn how to use your watercolor materials to create washes, work wet-into-wet, suggest value changes, establish color and light, execute stunning compositions and much more. For those of you wondering how to watercolor like the pros, this is the perfect introductory course for you!

Course includes downloads of course textbook and video!

Start Date:

October 28, 2014




Annie Strack (bio)

Course Materials (included in Tuition):

Workshop Length:

4 weeks
View Course Schedule



  • Using essential watercolor materials with confidence
  • Executing basic watercolor techniques including a variety of washes, working wet-on-wet and wet-on-dry, and positive and negative painting
  • Suggesting depth and light with color and value
  • Completing a watercolor painting from beginning sketch to finished piece


  • Students who have completed Drawing for the Absolute Beginner, Level 1 or Drawing for Beginners, Level 2
  • Aspiring artists new to watercolor painting
  • Experienced artists who want to learn proven techniques
  • Watercolorists who want to freshen up their skills



  • Alizarin Crimson
  • Burnt Sienna or Sepia
  • Cadmium Orange
  • Cadmium Red
  • Cadmium Yellow
  • Cerulean Blue
  • Prussian Blue
  • Yellow Ochre


  • 140–lb (300gsm) cold-press watercolor
  • 140-lb (300 gsm) hot-press watercolor paper


  • 3-inch (76mm) hake
  • No. 2 round
  • No. 6 round
  • No. 10 round


  • 2B pencil
  • Facial tissue
  • Kneaded eraser
  • Masking tape
  • Mounting board (Masonite, plywood or watercolor board)
  • Palette or plastic plates
  • Table salt
  • Water container(s)

REGISTER NOWCourse Syllabus

Lesson 1: Essential Watercolor Techniques

  • Basic watercolor materials
  • Mixing paint and handling brushes
  • Working wet-on-wet, wet-on-dry and drywashes

Reading assignment:

  • Introduction and Chapter 1, pages 7–19
  • Chapter 3, pages 44–65

Viewing assignment: See the principles and techniques in action by watching Watercolor for the Absolute Beginner with Mark Willenbrink. Review throughout the course, as needed.

Homework assignment: Complete the following exercises to practice key watercolor techniques. You may use the pigments recommended in your textbook or you may select your own pigments:

  • Applying a Flat Wash, page 49
  • Applying a Gradated Wash, page 50
  • Applying a Variegated Wash, page 51
  • Adding Salt, page 57
  • Lifting Paint, page 58

Lesson 2: Drawing, Value and Color Basics

  • Structural drawing techniques
  • Understanding value and color
  • Using color intensity to suggest atmospheric perspective
  • Composition basics

Reading assignment:

  • Chapter 2, pages 20–43

Homework: Complete the following exercises to improve your understanding of how color and value work.

  • Making a Value Scale, page 27
  • Once you’ve made a value scale, practice creating value changes and suggesting shadow and light by painting the shapes on the bottom of page 26.
  • Create your own color while, following the exercise, Making a Color Wheel, on page 33.
  • Practice suggesting atmospheric perspective by re-creating the three groupings of trees you see on page 29.

Lesson 3: Positive and Negative Painting

  • Suggesting texture
  • Understanding positive and negative space
  • Color temperature

Reading assignment:

  • Chapter 4, pages 80–89

Homework assignment: Practice working with positive and negative shapes by completing the following demonstrations:

  • Positive Painting, pages 80–83
  • Negative Painting, pages 84–89

Lesson 4: Basic Painting Approach

  • Composition planning
  • Mixing and layering paint
  • Light effects

Reading assignment:

  • Chapter 4, pages 68–79

Homework assignment: Complete the Structural Drawing demonstration, pages 68–71, then complete the Painting with Three Colors demonstration on pages 76–79.

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