Instructor David Daniels of the Smithsonian Associates' Introduction to Watercolor class proves art is a never ending learning process. His mastery of watercolor allows students to gain new insight from each class section and build upon their knowledge. Daniels started the class with a review of student work from the previous week, making suggestions and commentary. Students approached their assignments differently; some displayed skill in photorealistic reproductions of their original photographs while others transformed landscapes into abstract, surreal interpretations.
I never fail to learn something when I sit in on one of Daniels’ studio sessions. For instance, he advises students to steer clear of fugitive, or non-lightfast, hues. Students may find that these pigments disappear from their paintings in anywhere from 50-70 years thanks to UV damage. How can one circumvent this dilemma? By using glass or varnish with UV protection (however these can get expensive). The cheaper alternative: avoid red or pink, the most common victims.
Another tricky thing about watercolor is value, and that’s not how much your painting is worth – it’s the amount of light or dark in a particular pigment. Understanding value can improve the intensity and composition of your paintings. How can you affect value? To lighten a pigment you add water (allowing more light to pass through), and to darken it you can add a neutral tint, a compliment, or black. Color theory holds that neutral color contains no color, so adding more of it takes away the white paper’s ability to shine through, hence, darkening value.