Back in my childhood days, If I wanted to learn a new art skill, I had 2 options - get a book about it if I could find one, or try to copy from an image and learn as I went.
Since I grew up with no electricity, and therefore had no TV or video games to distract me, I learned a lot of new art skills. Especially during the long summers when I wasn’t in school. In addition to no elecricity, we lived in the middle of nowhere, on 80 acres of Mojave desert. There were no other kids within miles. I spent a LOT of time drawing, sketching, and painting.
However, there was always one deep frustration that I had - and it’s the reason I never learned to oil paint.
That is, even if I could find a book about how to do it, I couldn’t learn how to do it correctly. The skills required to do some types of art are very complex, and without a good teacher to SHOW you what to do, it’s very difficult to learn.
Have you ever felt this frustration? You get inspired by a gorgeous work of art and you want to CREATE! You can visualize where you want to go, but you have no idea of how to get there. You might try to work it out, but you end up dissatisfied and disgruntled, with a kind of ugly piece of artwork that’s nowhere near the masterpiece you see in your head.
What went wrong? What steps did you miss - what vital technique did not understand? Often the most annoying part is you don’t feel like you learned anything to improve next time!
Well, I’ve found a solution to this problem. And that solution is online art instruction classes on Skilllshare.
Even though I’ve mastered plenty of art techniques, I’ve made a living as a designer and illustrator for a long time, and I’m generally considered to be an excellent artist by my peers, my kids, my kid’s friends, and myself, I still have a lot of art techniques I want to learn.
Like modern watercolor! I love modern watercolor, it’s so expressive. My great aunt was an award winning modern watercolorist and I own one of her paintings, it’s one of my prized possessions.
Modern watercolor differs from traditional watercolors a little -
It’s more expressive and less realistic.
You can use different mediums to create the effect you want, like pens or white paint.
There are less “rules” - you can do whatever you want.
It’s a popular illustration style right now - for anything from card illustration to branding.
Even though it’s a loose and expressive, no rules style of art, there are still plenty of things to be learned to make a solid and pleasing illustration, not a hot mess.
I discovered Skillshare while I was searching for online tutorials about modern watercolor. Skillshare is a subscription based online learning website. I’ve been a member to a lot of online learning websites and this is my favorite - it’s very creative arts based. I’ve taken a lot of classes in various subjects and I’ve loved them all.
You can learn anything from digital designs skills to oil painting. I love the way Skillshare classes are set up - Each class is made of short videos that build on each other. That way, you can take in a little at a time and move on when you are ready. Most classes have “assignments” that you deliver by uploading your completed projects for the other students and the teacher to look at. The teacher will give thoughtful and kind critiques. You can sign up for a class at any time, and take it at your leisure. You can even watch all the videos without joining the class if you are nervous about sharing. Beware, this can become addictive. I took so many classes back to back because I got really into it!
Anywhoo, I did in fact find some excellent modern watercolor teachers on Skillshare. I’m going to share my 3 favorite modern watercolor teachers with you! These 3 ladies each have their own unique flair, but they are all fantastic teachers. Each of them delivers thoughtful, clear instructions, comprehensive lists of supplies with instructions and tips on how to use them, and lots of encouragement!
Yasmina creates some of the FUNNEST art classes using ink, watercolor, and doodling pens. I highly recommend starting with her if you are a beginner. Her classes are very easy to follow, and she encourages you to play and be expressive. She has a big variety of classes, from very simple doodle paintings to more detailed paintings with a clear theme.
I love how joyful, sweet, and excited she is as a teacher! You can really catch her infectious good nature as you listen to her talk. It shows in her artwork style, and it really puts you at ease when you’re learning. Here’s one of the paintings I made for her Easy Doodling & Painting Fun! Create Gorgeous Botanical & Floral Illustrations in Watercolor & Ink class!
Amarilys is such a confidant teacher. She’s a true professional, and it comes across in her style. She’s warm and fun, and gives great step-by-step instruction. Her work is very inspiring - it’s very current as she is a commercial illustrator, so you can create trendy illustrations that can be used for all kinds of media like cards, invitations, calenders. I loved her Make it Fun, Make it Sell: Dive Into Commercial Illustration class. It’s a great way to start thinking about what kind of art sells. I made a cute poster for my husband’s office!
Ana Victoria Calderón
Ana is delightful to learn from. She’s a serious teacher with a very deliberate, calm way of presenting the information. I find her classes very easy to follow along with. She’s a wonderful illustrator and mixed media artist, and her classes a little more advanced. I would say take her classes when you have done a few paintings. That being said, she breaks it down well and her classes are still very achievable. I really love her style of illustration. She doesn’t have as many classes as Yasmina and Amarilys, but they are very focused and longer. I made this lovely mixed media painting after watching her Watercolor and Mixed Media class.
So as I mentioned, Skillshare is a subscription service. It’s not very expensive - you can go month-to-month for only $15, or you can buy a year in advance at less than $9 a month so it’s about $100 for a year. I think it’s sooooo worth it. Art classes and workshops can be hundreds or thousands of dollars, so it’s a very affordable way to learn new skills. You can sign up for a free trial to start as well. Originally I was just going to link you right to the site, because I love it so much I wanted to share. But then as I was double checking the pricing info, I noticed they give me an affiliate link. So if you sign up through my link, you get 2 free months and I get 1 free month for every person who signs up! That’s pretty awesome so let’s help eachother out! Sign up for Skillshare with my affiliate link here to get 2 free months of awesome art learning!
P.S. One of the nice things about modern watercolor painting is that the supplies are not super expensive. Sure, you can definitly buy some very expensive and high quality watercolor supplies. But to get started, there are some great inexpensive options. For these classes I purchased this very affordable, very nice quality Japanese watercolor set from Amazon. I got several brushes on sale at Michaels, and some masking fluid and white paint pens. I used a varitey of pens I already had, felt tip drawing pens and Sharpies.
It’s easy! What are you waiting for, go learn some Modern watercolor!