On our Globe Craft Club Facebook page – where our 2,600 or so creators, artists and crafters share their projects, ideas and things they would like to try – there is one word that keeps coming up over and over again: watercolour.
That the ancient technique is having a bit of a moment these days is no surprise. Watercolour is affordable and accessible (basic paint sets are available for less than $10), the paint dries quickly, cleans easily and generally requires less commitment and investment than painting with oils or acrylics.
And there is something distinctly appealing about the look of watercolour, as well. Watercolour tends toward a colourful gauziness that feels natural and serene, as though every piece was painted at the side of a calm mountain lake or beside a blooming English garden. And who doesn’t want to be there at the moment?
But as anyone who has attempted a beautiful watercolour – and ended up with a wet, pilled, soggy mess – can attest, painting with water isn’t always as easy and relaxing as it looks.
“Watercolour can be a pretty tricky medium for beginners,” says Ashley Gayle, an artist, art teacher and co-creator of artistsonline.ca, who will be hosting our upcoming watercolour class, livestreamed on Tuesday, April 27, at 7 p.m. ET.
“Even for myself, watercolour is definitely not as easy and natural,” she says, “but I’m excited to show people that even though watercolour is a little intimidating, it can be so much fun.”
Gayle and Vanessa Ansah, her business partner and long-time friend, launched artistsonline.ca in the earliest days of the pandemic last spring, thinking they could do a few online art classes and later move to in-person sessions.
Gayle comes from an arts background and Ansah from business, and together they saw how they could use their skills to help people come together to have fun, de-stress and create art in an environment that would be welcoming and inclusive for “all races, shapes, sizes, colours and skill level.”
Ansah says after the killing of George Floyd, they realized how their online art classes could also be a powerful place of community, where people could talk and relate to each other in a positive and creative way. It is the strength of this connection that she says has kept their business growing and will keep them offering classes online even when in-person sessions are possible as well.
“It’s the best way we can connect with people from here to Antarctica and give people a way to connect and communicate with each other and maybe just not feel as alone as they are,” she says. “And I think that’s a beautiful thing.”
For our project, Gayle has designed a flower arrangement. A template of the design can be downloaded and transferred to a piece of watercolour paper using carbon paper or another transferring technique (the pencil technique Danielle Sweeney taught us in the hand lettering class would even work), or it can be sketched freehand.
“It’s a really simple design, but it’s going to look really nice,” Gayle says. “It will look a lot harder than it actually is going to be.”
Ansah adds, “No matter what level you’re at, you can look at it after and say, ‘Wow, I can’t believe I made that.’”
Supplies for our watercolour session
- Liquid watercolour paint set – any student grade beginner set will work – recommended sets are Windsor & Newton or Grumbacher (colours - red, yellow, blue, burnt umber, white)
- Watercolour brush – round size 6
- Watercolour brush – round size 12
- Watercolour brush – round size 2
- 9x12 watercolour paper sheet or block
- Masking tape
- Paper towels/rags
- Flat mixing surface (palette, container lid, ceramic dish)
- Printed-out template
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