Usually my watercolor lessons begin with a “play time,” using colors and brushstrokes in a lighthearted manner, enjoying the way the colors react together on the paper. This past week we used yellows in diagonal strokes, softening the edges and allowing the pigments to blend naturally. Then we added greens to the lower section, also diagonally. Splattering some warm colors, reds and oranges, near the middle made marks that started to look like flowers so I dropped in some large purple drops. I liked the way the dropped-in colors spread out and looked like fluffy flower heads.

After the first layer dried, I added some centers, stems and leaves for the flowers and added some texture to make different layers in the grass. Some of the red splatter marks got turned into the butterflies.

Flowers and Butterflies, watercolor, 5″ x 8″


My challenge, and the challenge I give my students, is to take this spirit of play into their painting during the rest of the class.

What do you do to warm up before working?