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Foundations for Mastering Watercolor Painting

An in-depth, approachable look at painting materials that will make mastering the medium truly possible.
Jill Poyerd
2,378 students enrolled
English [Auto-generated]
Learn watercolor techniques quicker and easier
Understand what watercolor paint is and how it is unique
Discern how a paint will perform based on its pigment property
Gain insight into water's important role in the water media painting process
Appreciate the importance of surface texture and structure when you paint
Understand the differences between brush materials
Problem-solve with success when something goes wrong in the painting process
Feel freer in developing your own artistic voice

Watercolor painting at its core is built upon pigment, water, and a painting surface. So many classes teach techniques without the painter having a complete understanding of these foundational elements. Using her approachable, easy-to-understand teaching method and by incorporating stories, animation, and live demonstrations, the artist gently guides the viewer through topics such as What is paint? What are the properties of pigments? How do the properties of water influence the painting process? And how does the painting surface or brush material influence paint application? Upon completing this course, viewers will feel more confident about learning new techniques, they will have freedom to explore their own artistic voice, and will be better able to problem solve as they move along in the medium.

How to Use the Course Tools

How to Use the Course Tools

Whether you are new to UDemy or you just want to make sure you are maximizing the available tools in this court, this video guides the viewer through all of the technical workings of the course from the dashboard to the actual video playback. Topics include:

  • How to get started

  • Understanding the dashboard

  • Navigating course content

  • Submitting questions

  • Contacting support

  • Bookmarking lectures

  • Rating the course

  • Using video playback tools

  • Locating and downloading activities

  • Adjusting playback speed

  • Opening the transcript

  • Skipping lectures

  • Setting closed caption and video quality

  • Messaging the instructor

  • Locating UDemy help

  • Accessing assignment response 

  • Completing and resetting the course

The History of Watercolor (Optional)

The Evolution of Watercolor - A Closer Look

Brought over from my YouTube Channel, we begin this course with a thorough look at the history of watercolor painting. The information is set to engaging music and broken down by historical era. I've included an abbreviated version as an option.

What is Watercolor?

Introduction and What is Paint?

After gaining an understanding of watercolor's long history, it's important to answer the most basic questions, such as What is paint? What is pigment? And what is a binder?

How Paints Differ

Once you understand exactly what paint is, it's helpful to know how the various paints compare to one another. In this video, we delve into how watercolor compares to other water media paints - specifically fresco, egg tempera, gouache, and acrylic. We also discuss how it compares to oil paint. One of the primary differences is the binder that each paint uses, which affects the application of the pigment. Through this comparison you will gain a better understanding for each paint's individual benefits and drawbacks.

Transparency Demonstration

The level of transparency is an important factor when it comes to water media paints. This video offers a live demonstration of how watercolor compares to other water media paints as far as transparency.

Lifting & Reworkability Demonstration

Each paint has a different level lifting capability.  In this video, the student sees first hand how easy it is to lift each of the water media paints as well as how reworkable they are.

Paint Flow Demonstration

One of watercolor paint's best-loved qualities is its ability to flow and produce beautiful color transitions. In this video, we conduct a live comparison of each paint's amount of flow.

The Properties of Pigments

The Properties of Pigments

Part of making watercolor a little more predictable is gaining an understanding of how individual pigments and their characteristics can influence paint performance. In this video, we discuss what the purpose of pigment is, how pigments vary, what they are made of, and how source material can impact the resulting paint.

Pigment Weight

Pigments vary in weight and that variation can result in special effects on the painting surface such as granulation. This segment discusses pigment weight, why it can vary, and the affect it can have on paint application.

Pigment Size

Pigment particles also vary by size, which also has an influence on the application of paint to include being one of the primary causes of staining paint. In this video, we discuss pigments of the same size, pigments that are very small, pigments that are larger, and how these attributes affect the painting process.

Paint Transparency

Pigment particle size also relates to how transparent the paint will be. In this segment, we discuss what transparency and opacity are, as well as how you can use this quality in your painting.

Tinting Strength

Some paints are very powerful when mixed with other paints, resulting in a very color-dominant mix. Other paints are very weak. The level of strength is referred to as Tinting Strength and is related to pigment particle size. This is the topic of this video.

Putting it All Together

In this video, we pull together all of the pigment particle information in order to get a broad look at how it influences paint. We also briefly discuss its application.

Where to Find Pigment Information

Now that we've gained a comprehensive understanding of pigment properties and the resulting impact on the paint, we discuss how to locate this information on paint tubes, manufacturer websites and paint brochures. That is the topic of this video.

The Properties of Water

The Properties of Water

Water is a critical part of the watercolor painting process. Without water, the medium wouldn't exist as we know it. We use water to thin the paint, to apply the paint, and to manipulate the paint. This section begins with a discussion of what water is as well as the affect of gravity on water and therefore paint.

Cohesion & Surface Tension

One of water's more important properties is cohesion. It's what gives groupings of water molecules shape and keeps droplets seperate from one another. In this video, I give a thorough explanation of this phenomonon, how it results in surface tension, and how all of this can impact paint application.


Adhesion is responsible for water's attraction to a surface, including that of watercolor paper. This video explores the phenomonon and how it influences the painting process.


Water temperature is something watercolor painters don't typically consider, but temperature does affect water and thus can influence the performance of the paint. In this video, we export temperature's impact on water and how it can be used by the artist.

Water Demonstrations

In this video, we take all of what we've learned about the properties of water and give live examples to solidify how each characteristic applies to painting. Seeing the visual examples will solidify your knowledge before moving on to the next topic.

The Properties of Painting Surfaces

Painting Surfaces

Thanks to technology, there are a number of painting surfaces to choose from when working with watercolor paints. The large portion of Section 5 is spent discussing paper, since watercolor paper is considered the industry standard and is what I recommend to those who are learning the medium. This video introduces the variety of surfaces and begins the discussion on how paper ingredients vary.

How Paper is Made

In this video, we discuss what paper is made from, how watercolor papers compare to regular paper, and how papers are generally made. 

Paper Weight

Papers vary in weight, and the various weights have an impact on the painting process as well as final presentation. In this video, we discuss how paper weight is determined and how it affects production.

Paper Texture

Paper texture is a very important consideration when painting in watercolor. It can influence how the paper takes the paint, brush effects that can be achieved, and the look of your finished product. All of these topics are reviewed in this video.

Paper Formats

This video explores the various formats in which you can purchase watercolor paper, from flat sheets to rolls to a variety of pads.

Alternative Surfaces

Absorbant gesso has opened up the door to many surfaces for the watercolor painter. In this video, we look at some of the new options including watercolor canvas, board and Yupo, We also touch on how they're constructed and how paint application differs from painting on paper.

Paper Presentation

Watercolor paintings on paper have limitations on how they can be presented to the public. In this video, we briefly discuss the artist's options for presentation.

Manufacturer Websites

In this video, we close out the section with a look at some of the surface manufacturer's websites where students will discover just how much they've learned about the properties of various surfaces.


Introduction to Supplies & Studio Tour

In this video, we take a virtual walk through my working studio so students can see both my set-up and the materials I use on a daily basis. In this way, we prepare for the discussions throughout the rest of this section.


Since we spent a good amount of time discussing paper in the last section, this is a brief reminder of my recommendations.


Brushes are another very important tool. It's what we use to transfer the paint and connect the water and the pigment on the surface. In this video, we talk about how brushes are designed, what the bristles are made of and how that affects application. We also learn about brush shapes, brands I recommend, and criteria to look for.


Selecting your paints is a very individual decision, but there are some general guidelines that can be very helpful. In this video, we discuss primary color triads, earth tones, laying out your palette, and why watercolor painters don't typically use black or white. The video ends with some recommendations and suggestions.


You palette is where you store and mix your paints. In this video, we discuss some of the criteria to look for when choosing a palette.

Additional Supplies

There are many additional supplies, both necessary, helpful, or just for fun. These include water containers, masking fluid, paper towels, and much more. This section covers those items with a brief discussion of my recommendations.

Some Final Thoughts

We end this course with a brief discussion on some of the benefits of working in watercolor as well as my closing remarks.

Practical Application

Painting Demonstration - Applying the Knowledge

Students are invited to watch a 3-minute demonstration where I use some of the knowledge taught in this course to complete a watercolor painting.

Bonus: How Supplies Impact Painting Results

How Paint Quality Impacts Results

Watercolor paints are sold in a variety of price ranges and quality levels. Is it truly necessary to spend extra money for a better brand of paint? In this lecture, we take a first-hand look at professional, student, and academic grade watercolor paints and how paint grade can impact results when painting.

How Paper Quality Impacts Results

The quality and brand of watercolor paper can have an enormous influence on painting results. It could mean the difference between success and failure. In this lecture, we examine professional, student, and academic grade watercolor papers and how they impact results when painting.

You can view and review the lecture materials indefinitely, like an on-demand channel.
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