learning to watercolor with skillshare.

May 17, 2016

skillshare | reading my tea leaves

This post is sponsored by Skillshare, an online learning community for creative skills.

If you’d asked me six months ago whether I’d ever take a watercolor class online, I would have said no. Or at least I would have hesitated. That’d be like watching paint dry, I would have said. Welp. I’m glad you didn’t ask me, because I would have had to eat my words. I’ve been using Skillshare for the past few weeks and turns out, watching paint dry is super interesting.

I mentioned in my last newsletter that I’ve been hunting for a little watercolor set. I’ve liked the idea of using our trip to France as an opportunity to do a little something creative. I haven’t used watercolors since I was in elementary school, but I was planning to wing it; to get myself a few tubes of watercolors, and some brushes, and to maybe pick up a pad of watercolor paper once I arrived.

But when Skillshare reached out asking if I wanted to give their classes a try, I leapt at the chance to take a little bit of direction from someone else. And I’m so terribly pleased that I did. (Psst: They’re spreading the love by offering RMTL readers three months of Skillshare Premium for only $0.99 (redeem here;more details below!))skillshare | reading my tea leaves
For the unfamiliar, Skillshare is an online community for learning creative skills. For a monthly fee of $10, users have access to thousands of classes taught by experts in their fields. Topics covered range from design to business, to photography, tech, crafts, film, writing…phew. If you need help brewing the perfect cup of coffee, Skillshare has your back.skillshare | reading my tea leaves

For my part: I went hunting for watercolor classes. 

I think the part about Skillshare that I most appreciate is that I can dabble. It’s so freeing! I can pick and choose what’s useful from a whole bunch of different classes. Classes tend to be about an hour long, but they’re broken up into digestible shorter videos, which makes hopping around even easier. 

For instance, before I began, I watched the supplies lessons from a few different classes to get ideas about what tools I’d need to get started (and then spent a happy hour poking around East Village art supply stores looking for the goods). I wouldn’t have bought a waterbrush or the kind of paints that I ended up with if I hadn’t had the chance to hear from a bunch of different water colorists about their favorite supplies.

Once I had my materials gathered, I continued my dabbling.skillshare | reading my tea leaves

In a class called Modern Watercolor Techniques: Beginner’s Level, for instance, I especially loved the lesson on transparencies and creating different color values from the same single paint color. I watched that particular lesson a few times and recreated my own transparency chart in my notebook.skillshare | reading my tea leaves

The class Basic Watercolors: Learn Painting with Paper Fashion focuses on fashion watercolors, which isn’t precisely my thing, but I found the supplies lesson and the color mixing lesson to be super valuable and felt encouraged to spend some time just getting to know my colors and how they worked together.skillshare | reading my tea leaves

It was especially neat for me to see how different teachers approached the same concepts—like making a color chart. And I was able to feel confident to make own chart based on a few different suggestions. skillshare | reading my tea leaves

If you prefer sitting very much in your seat, and sticking to one class, you can do that, too. Lots of classes come with assignments and opportunities to upload student work so you can see how the whole class unfolds. skillshare | reading my tea leaves

Maybe best of all, as I gain confidence in my (extremely rudimentary) watercolor skills, it’ll be so nice to have this catalog of classes to return to. If I forget something, or need a refresher, I can replay just one section of a class that I especially loved. (Not to mention, access to the whole range of classes gives me the chance to learn other skills, like, say, improving my wine-tasting game.)

If watercoloring isn’t something you’re into, but you’re still looking for a travel-ready hobby, the class Travel Photography: Seeing, Shooting, and Editing might be the perfect primer. Or if you’re feeling generally itchy for a bit of on-the-go creativity, you could take a look at Travel the World: Reinvigorate Your Creativity On the Road.

Whatever the specific skills are that you’re looking to hone, if you’re interested in giving Skillshare a shot, they’re currently offering a 3-month subscription for just $0.99. Use the code RMTL to give it a try! Offer expires 11/17/2016

This post was sponsored by Skillshare. Thanks so much for supporting the brands that support Reading My Tea Leaves.

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  • Reply Erin May 17, 2016 at 10:20 am

    So great. I’ve set my sights on several projects my crafty 11-year-old daughter and I can work on now that school is almost out of session. Thank you.

  • Reply sam-c May 17, 2016 at 11:15 am

    Can you add a link for the watercolor set you used? I checked online, and can only find a set that includes 48 colors, and is too expensive for a beginner. That online class program seems like a great idea!

    • Reply Erin Boyle May 17, 2016 at 11:28 am

      You know, I’m not finding the set online either. I bought mine at Jerry’s International Palette shop on 4th ave in Manhattan in case you’re local. It’s a set of 12 Lukas half-pans. This set is similar, though my understanding is that these guys are more student-grade and since I figure I’ll have this same set for many years coming, I splurged on the professional paints! Good luck on your hunt!

    • Reply Raphaëlle May 17, 2016 at 11:48 am

      I have this one and love it (http://www.amazon.com/Winsor-Newton-Cotman-Colour-Sketchers/dp/B00004THXI/) 🙂
      There’s also a bigger one if you prefer!

      • Reply sam-c May 17, 2016 at 11:52 am

        Thank you both for the recommendations! Very helpful.

      • Reply Miina May 18, 2016 at 5:58 am

        Yes for Winsor&Newton!

  • Reply Baltina May 17, 2016 at 11:56 am

    Erin, this is so inspiring. Love that skillshare is offering this great opportunity. I have wanted to check out a few classes, hand lettering being high on the list and now maybe even watercolor. Thank you for sharing, hope you get lots of painting en plein air while in France.

  • Reply Katie May 17, 2016 at 1:40 pm

    Hilariously right before i read this i was looking at watercolor classes at our local community college. For about 1/180 the price of those classes, it looks like i’ll give skillshare a try!

  • Reply Loribeth May 17, 2016 at 2:50 pm

    I love watercolors but find that I am sometimes limited by my lack of formal training so I can’t quite nail some of my painting due to the lack of techniques. So excited about this! Thanks for sharing!

  • Reply Bailey May 17, 2016 at 10:05 pm

    I LOVE watercoloring! I got into it when I did a professional development session about nature journaling with a fantastic woman, Maria Coryell-Martin, who travels all over the world and works alongside field scientists to make amazing watercolors–what she calls “expeditionary art.” She makes a traveling watercoloring kit that I’ve taken on many a trip and really love using. If you’re looking to upgrade your kit or just admire the work of a traveling watercolor artist, check her out. Her website is https://expeditionaryart.com/ and her kits are under the “shop” tab 🙂

  • Reply Miina May 18, 2016 at 6:00 am

    Ooh I have that brush and it’a MARVEL I tell you! I also love to use it with watercolour pencils and crayons for my design projects, it’s so versatile 🙂

  • Reply Chelcey Tate May 19, 2016 at 12:13 am

    I’ve been wanting to try out watercolor for so long now … Might have to try out this class! I have some water brushes already for my ink work, but watercolor has never come as easy to me. Thanks for the inspiration, lady!

    Chelcey | http://www.chelceytate.com

  • Reply Renske May 31, 2016 at 3:40 pm

    Thank you for the tip! I was wondering though, when I sign up: does it mean I get to cancel at the end of the three months and just pay the 0.99 or does it mean I have to buy a whole year and just get a discount in the beginning?

    • Reply Erin Boyle May 31, 2016 at 3:44 pm

      Ah; good question. I’m pretty sure you can cancel at anytime. I would shoot a quick note here to be sure!

  • Reply Rosa June 1, 2016 at 3:36 pm

    A wonderful book to recommend to you which suggests to paint the colors of a still life or an object, not necessarily objects themselves. It really makes you see color in a different way. It’s called Local Color by Mimi Robinson.

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