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Summer Reading - books for all ages.
Featured Resource

Getting Started in Watercolor (DVD)


Getting Started in Watercolor (DVD)

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Publisher: Walter Foster

Author: Joan Hansen

List Price: DVD: $14.95

Ages: All Ages

Reviewed By: Jean Hall

This "instructional video" is much more than the name implies. Rather than a straight lecture, with an artist talking into the camera and then demonstrating, Getting Started with Watercolor plays more like an interview with demonstrations. Only once in a while does the artist lapse into an instruction-reading monotone, a sort of drone that our girls tend to tune out unless they're very interested in a subject. For the most part, there is cheerful give-and-take between the interviewer, "kind of a goofy guy" as one of the girls called him, and the "guest artist" Joan Hansen.

The interviewer, Matt Lattimore, knows his business, setting the artist at ease, asking leading questions, and taking up a brush to practice the new techniques as each is introduced. His enthusiasm and appreciation are contagious, and Ms. Hansen's instruction is clear and easy for our elementary students to follow.

After a brief introduction, we are invited to examine the tools used in watercolor painting: not only brushes and paint, but mixing palettes, masking tape, water jars, paper towels (not just for spills!), plastic wrap, old toothbrushes, sponges, salt, and white goache. I don't know about you, but seeing the supplies laid out, hearing the pros and cons of various choices, and knowing what to look for when I go to the art store are not only a great help to a visual learner like myself, but also a wonderful timesaver. If I have a printed materials list, I might spend a bewildered hour or two trying to identify the materials I need to buy! opposed to knowing what I'm looking for, having already seen it handled while cataloguing the artist's tips, like "when buying a round brush, look for..."

The video assumes you already have some understanding of basic art terms, such as "warm" and "cool" colors (which are very briefly identified) and a basic idea of color blending. We've done lots of color mixing in our art experimentation, and we've talked about the color wheel, so we were ready to tackle this DVD.

Little helpful tidbits are sprinkled throughout; I've been watercolor-painting with the girls for years now, and yet we've never had two water containers, one for washing brushes and one of "clean" water. We always have kept getting up to dump out our water and refresh it, at frequent intervals. Following Ms. Hansen's example made painting more fun! (And not just because we weren't getting up every few moments to change water, but because we were learning techniques we hadn't stumbled on in all our years of experimentation.)

The artist begins by showing how to use brushes in varying ways to accomplish different results (strokes and washes). Eventually, she uses real subjects (flowers, sky, trees, grass) to demonstrate techniques, and periodically a finished painting is brought out, to show how a combination of methods work together to make a beautiful whole. It really is true that a picture is worth a thousand words!

The girls were excited and encouraged by the video, stopping it occasionally to run to the table where they'd set up for painting, to practice what they'd just seen.

It was heartening to see that we don't need to throw away our watercolor "mistakes." We learned how to correct our errors, and enhance our paintings. It wasn't long before our daughters' efforts were showing that they'd paid attention to the video lessons. Terms like "wet into wet" and "dry brushing" and "charging in color" were thrown around as if we'd been using them all our lives.

Some lessons are very short, only a few minutes long, and some are long and involved. The convenient thing about this 60-minute DVD is that it can be paused and the information repeated if necessary. (Believe me, it does get repeated. I turned it on just now, to check something while writing this review, and after I turned it off again, someone came into the room and turned it back on, and is reviewing "creating textures" as I type this.)

Segments include:
Tools and Materials
Setting up your Studio
Handling and Caring for your Brushes
Mixing Colors
Creating Watercolor Washes
Basic Watercolor Techniques
Saving Whites
Creating Textures
Creating Textures with Salt
Making Changes
Putting It All Together

The DVD label gives a list of materials needed to paint along with the video, including the specific colors of watercolor paint.

We've gotten a lot out of this video, and I'd recommend it to anyone who is interested in learning more about painting with watercolors.

The best thing about this art video is that the girls have been learning and practicing new techniques, and I didn't have to drive them somewhere for a lesson!
More Information
Available From: Walter Foster Publishing, Inc
Address: 3 Wrigley, Suite A, Irvine, CA 92618 USA
Phone: 949.380.7510
Other Notes:
Purchase Now From the Eclectic Homeschool Resource Center
Jean Hall
Jean Hall, a Christian home educator with three daughters, enjoys writing stories and music. Her family's interests include reading together, art, gardening, volkswalking and pets: two cats and a Giant Schnauzer.
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