An out-of-print book, called Watercolor Solutions, by Charles Reid, is proving helpful in slowing down enough to grasp some important concepts related to watercolor painting! The book can be borrowed at a local library or you can pay about $50 for a used copy. Reid is a highly respected watercolor artist and teacher who has an excellent way of explaining things; there are a couple of his lessons on YouTube.
In his book, he explains things as basic as how to hold, wet, and shake water off a brush. In addition, he explains how to mix colors on the palette and directly on the paper. There are exercises in drawing profiles, portraits, and figures. Reid recommends abandoning sketching, and to instead do contour drawings by keeping your pencil on the paper and doing one line (outline), stopping only to check on your location, but not lifting your pencil from the paper.
Here is one practice watercolor I did based on his instructions:
Illustration: Watercolor and pencil sketch on Arches 140 1b CP paper by Black Elephant Blog author
and another based on Reid’s explanation on “Adjusting Values from Photos”. This latter section inspired me to try my hand at practicing the values by trying to copy Reid’s own method of painting of John Singer Sargent at work painting. What is fascinating in this section is his description of how to “lose edges.” It means focusing exclusively on shadow shapes and not, for instance, where the edges of an umbrella or neckline or coat are; the purples below thus sort of run together, per Reid’s own painting example on p. 85 of the hardcopy of his book.
Illustration: Copy after “John Singer Sargent” by Charles Reid in watercolor and white gouache with pencil underdrawing on Arches 140 lb CP paper by Black Elephant Blog author
From this experience so far, it is clear that there are good habits to work on developing, related to how much water is on the brush and how the colors are mixed and used. Aside from all the lessons in the book, another challenge is not to ruin a library book with paint splatters. Reid’s explanations are so helpful; it’s clear that complementing class instruction with a book like this is the way to go, at least for me (and maybe for some others!)