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Introduction to Watercolor Painting | Spring

Working with watercolors can be exciting and dynamic. Though it’s a medium known for it’s challenges, through familiarity and practice it can be harnessed to create beautiful effects: luminous color glazes, an immediacy and sensitivity that parallels drawing, and intuitive fluid and poetic mark making.
We will begin by gaining a sense of familiarity with the watercolors through a variety of exercises and material experiments. Then we will explore the full range of colors through various color charts and lessons on color theory. This will help provide a grounding from which to begin our studies of a handful of artists who were able to master the materials. Master copies and the study of our artists will be an ongoing feature of our class. We will become familiar with the artists and their artworks through extensive study of particular images, as Charlotte Mason would call “picture studies,” and engage in the artistic tradition of copying their work on a regular basis. Partially for this reason we will practice the habit of keeping a sketchbook, where we can take notes, copy artists’ work, do material tests, and make watercolor sketches throughout the duration of the course.
In addition to our studies of art history and great artists, a keen sense of observation about the world around us will be vigorously encouraged. By taking the position of an observer we will show reverence to God by admiring the goodness and beauty of the created world. With patience we will learn to paint from what God has created, applying the principles of composition to frame and organize our images in order to convey our ideas through watercolor paintings.
Join me this semester as we explore the wonderful world of watercolor painting!
Our class time will be comprised of demonstrations, individual instruction, work-time, and class discussion. Students do not need any prior art experience. The class will start simple dealing with foundational principles. Course material will gradually build in complexity. Students will practice thinking like an artist. They will engage in the whole creative process from generating ideas, making intentional decisions with each aspect of their work, and reflecting on what they have made.
Students can also expect ongoing dialogues about art in history, the Christian imagination in relationship to faith and the arts, and the role of the arts in the Church. The hope of the instructor is that through engagement in the class, students will be brought to a deeper appreciation of the visual world and the creative love of its Maker.

Required Materials:
Books and supplies are not included in the purchase of the course.

Teaching art online is a unique learning experience to navigate. If at all possible, buy the version of supply linked below. I can help students navigate obstacles more effectively when we are all using the same materials. If you have any questions regarding supplies, please feel free to email me.

  • Any kind of sketchbook (minimum size 8″x10″): We will use these for exercises and notes. If you already have one that you use, that will do!
  • Document camera (such as Ipevo), or equivalent
  • Pencils for drawing
  • Kneaded eraser
  • At least 2 Micron pens, 005 (link) & 05 (link)
  • Bristol board drawing paper pad (link)
  • Ruler
  • Blue painter’s tape
  • Set of watercolor paint (link) and palette (link)
  • Short handled watercolor brushes
  • Size 2 round (link)
  • Size 6 round (link)
  • 1/2” or 1” flat (link)
  • OR a set like this (link)
  • Water cup
  • Watercolor paper pad for studies and final projects (link)
  • Rags or paper towels

Optional Course Materials:

  • Set of colored pencils
  • Drawing board for stretching watercolor paper
  • Apron to keep clothing clean
  • Small spray bottle
  • Masking fluid
  • White gouache

Sara Silkwood holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Illustration from Syracuse University. Sara has several years experience teaching in a variety of areas including college level, church-run camps, Classical schools and privately. She also serves as the fine arts teacher at Valor Preparatory Academy. Currently, Sara works out of her home studio in Waco, Texas where she lives with her great dane-lab mix, Oberon. She spends her free-time backpacking, reading and illustrating her own stories.

Red checkmarkComputer: You will need a stable, reliable computer, running with a processor with a speed of 1 GHz or better on one of the following operating systems: Mac OS X with Mac OS 10.7 or later; Windows 8, 7, Vista (with SP1 or later), or XP (with SP3 or later). We do not recommend using an iPad or other tablet for joining classes. An inexpensive laptop or netbook would be much better solutions, as they enable you to plug an Ethernet cable directly into your computer. Please note that Chromebooks are allowed but not preferred, as they do not support certain features of the Zoom video conference software such as breakout sessions and annotation, which may be used by our teachers for class activities.

Red checkmarkHigh-Speed Internet Connection: You will also need access to high-speed Internet, preferably accessible via Ethernet cable right into your computer. Using Wi-Fi may work, but will not guarantee you the optimal use of your bandwidth. The faster your Internet, the better. We recommend using a connection with a download/upload speed of 5/1 Mbps or better. You can test your Internet connection here.

Red checkmarkWebcam: You may use an external webcam or one that is built in to the computer. Webcam Recommendations: Good (PC only) | Best (Mac and PC)

Red checkmarkHeadset: We recommend using a headset rather than a built-in microphone and speakers. Using a headset reduces the level of background noise heard by the entire class. Headset Recommendations: USB | 3.5mm

Red checkmarkZoom: We use a web conferencing software called Zoom for our classes, which enables students and teachers to gather from around the globe face to face in real time. Zoom is free to download and easy to use. unnamed-e1455142229376 To download Zoom:

  1. Visit
  2. Click to download the first option listed, Zoom Client for Meetings.
  3. Open and run the installer on your computer.
  4. In August, students will be provided with instructions and a link for joining their particular class.

Red checkmarkScanner: In this class, students frequently submit homework assignments by scanning pages from their workbooks. Students and/or their parents should have easy access to a scanner and the ability to use it.


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