Watercolor Workshops with Catherine Hearding


Watercolor Landscapes

July 8-9  – Grand Marais Art Colony

With the amazing scenery that abounds in the Grand Marais area, it is tempting to put it all onto paper. As artists, we are called to interpret what we see and to simplify the vision to its basic form.  Using a three-step watercolor process, students will learn to reduce a landscape to basic shapes and values, leave out unnecessary detail and create a unified and dynamic painting. Learn essentials of basic landscape design, palette selection, paint application and expressive color to loosen up your watercolors.

For more information and registration go to:  http://www.grandmaraisartcolony.org/workshop.cfm?wid=686

Watercolor Workshops with Catherine Hearding


 Upcoming Watercolor Workshops    


Painting Flowers in Watercolor

May 6 –  9am-4pm  –  U of MN Landscape Arboretum

Participants will work from a selection of floral photographs to learn and practice a three-step watercolor process. Techniques taught in class will focus on paint application, values, and color solutions to inspire your imagination and expand the creative possibilities.

For more information and registration go to:   http://www.arboretum.umn.edu/artsclasses.aspx


“Colors of Winter” Watercolor Workshop


Join me for my “Colors of Winter” watercolor workshop at the Grand Marais Art Colony, Grand Marais, MN   February 10-12, 2017.

Using the beautiful  winter scenery of the harbor village of Grand Marais as inspiration, we will explore the colors and composition of the winter landscape.  Instruction will focus on a three-step wash approach to watercolor painting, value studies and color solutions. Each day will begin with an instructor demo and you will be able to complete your own winter watercolor.

Workshops at the Art Colony are low-key, enjoyable and a great way to get to know other watercolorists from around the state.

Class is designed for experienced beginners and beyond.

For more information and registration go to: grandmaraisartcolony.org

Upcoming Watercolor Classes


As the summer season winds down, I am looking forward to starting another season of watercolor classes.  My first classes start in October, and include “Color in the Landscape” at White Bear Center for the Arts and “Watercolor Beaches” and “Seashell Still Life” at Minnetonka Center for the Arts.

For a complete listing of my fall classes, go to the “classes” page on my website.

Hope you can join me!

“Why do my colors look muddy?”


Watercolor students are always asking, “Why do my colors look muddy?”  There are several reasons that cause this to occur.

The most common cause is over-working of the surface. This means that paint has been applied to the dry paper with a brush and then the student has brushed back and forth across the paper to get it “just right”.  By disturbing the surface of the paper, you are breaking off all of the fine paper filaments that catch the paint and forcing it into the paper surface. If paint is left to settle into the paper on its own, the fine filaments will prevent some areas of the paper from catching paint and those areas will add sparkle to the paint.  Less is more in watercolor, so put your wash down and leave it, don’t keep brushing it.

For best color on your initial wash, paint should be floated (with a loaded brush) into clear water on the paper and left to find its own equilibrium.  The artist can tip and tilt the paper to get the paint to move in any direction, but avoid using the brush to scrub the paint on the surface.  I always float in my first wash. Subsequent layers may be brushed on, but use the brush gently and continue to use enough water so that the paint will float.

Another reason for dull and muddy looking color is over-mixing. I watch students stir paint mixtures on the palette for quite a few seconds.  The more that the paint is stirred, the duller the color.  I like to mix the colors on the paper, wet-into-wet and let the colors find their own mixture. This results in beautiful color transitions and lively color mixes.

Try this experiment in color mixing.  Using permanent rose and cobalt blue, try mixing and applying it in three different ways and see how the colors change.

  1. Mix the rose and blue on your palette and stir it on the palette for 15-20 seconds. Apply it with your brush to a 3” square on dry paper.
  2. Mix the rose and blue on your palette but don’t do more than a couple of swirls through with your brush for mixing. You should still see some of each color in the mixture.  Apply with brush to 3” square on dry paper.
  3. Wet a 3” square on your paper with clear water, being gentle with the paper surface. Load your brush with the blue and drop it into the water, letting the water move the paint instead of the brush. (Keep your paper at a slight angle and let gravity help you.) Now load your brush with the rose and drop it into the blue, once again letting the water and gravity do the mixing for you.
  4. Let all of these squares dry completely and compare the results. You should see some significant differences in the final colors.

I will address a couple of other reasons for “muddy colors” in my next blog post.

Winter Watercolor Workshop at American Swedish Institute


Still time to sign up for my “Winter in Watercolors” workshop at the American Swedish Institute, 2600 Park Ave, Minneapolis.

March 18, 2016   9-4 pm

Students will learn to paint a simple winter landscape using a 3-step process. We will work on value studies, paint application and creating texture while becoming familiar with the medium.  Museum admission is included in the registration fee and students will be able to view the current exhibit “The Watercolor Worlds of Lars Lerin.”

For registration info go to:  www.asimn.org




Grand Marais Watercolor Workshop with Catherine Hearding


“Colors of Winter” – February 20-21, 2016

Grand Marais Art Colony, Grand Marais, MN

This 2-day workshop will focus on painting the winter landscape using shape, value and color. Topics covered will include composition and cropping, value studies, negative space, color solutions and edges. Step by step instruction with instructor demos will lead all levels through the 3-step process. Come join us and experience winter from a new perspective!

For more information and registration: http://www.grandmaraisartcolony.org

Three-step Watercolor Process

I would like to take some time to explain the process I use to create my watercolor paintings.  I use what I call the 3-step process. It is simple, easy to understand and yields pretty consistent results.

The steps are:

1. Save the whites and paint everything else on the paper with an under-painting of a mid-tone value (left image)

2. Add mid-dark values to everything except the white space and areas that will remain mid-tones in the final painting. (right image)


3. Add the final dark values to only small areas that will be the darkest darks. (left image)


This results in paintings that have an abundance of light because I have saved the whites at the very beginning.  The under-painting is done in a mid-value color that captures the lightest value colors and ensures that they remain a part of the painting. And finally, by putting in the darks in two steps, I keep the number of washes to three at the most.  This helps to keep the painting fresh and not overworked- basically it eliminates the dreaded “mud” that so many watercolor students complain about!

This process does require that you understand the value process and create a value sketch to use as a  road map. In order to proceed, you need to know where the whites are, what the mid-tones are going to be and where the darks will be placed. By creating a value study, this all becomes clear.

The photos show the progression from the first wash to the last. My initial under-painting went in as a #3 value, followed by the mid-darks at value #5 and the final darks at value #7.  When I paint the sketch in color, I use the same process. The initial under-painting wash was a light yellow-orange at value #3, followed by the appropriate colors in values #5 and #7.

In future posts I will be talking about the concept of value and different ways of doing value studies and of course, will talk about how to avoid mud!