Warm up lesson for Painting I- Just getting started.

22 08 2014

Painting I – Instructor Joy Schultz

Warm-up Exercise



Students begin with an introduction to watercolor set up and materials. Students begin to block in a value scale grid on the watercolor paper in an organized grid format or a random grid pattern. Students make decisions about the division of space, line thickness, transparent or opaque layers of paint. I encourage students to use more water to create washes and to use other pigments to create a shade or tint instead of using black or white pigment. I restrict the selection of colors for the grid to two pigments only, plus all the tints and shades.


We discuss the watercolor textures and how it can be controlled by dry brush and wet on wet. I do encourage over painting if the student wants to create more textures or energy to keep the viewer moving throughout the composition. The watercolor grid should be strong enough to stand alone as an interesting painting before we add the drawing of the flower motif. (I explain hot press and cold press paper and brush shapes before we paint)


Students select a silk flower to draw on newsprint to brush up on modified contour line drawing, demo and reteaching if necessary. After approval of study of the flower the student will make a decision on placement on the watercolor grid. Asymmetrical or symmetrical layout, large or small scale, etc., we discuss the possibilities before student begins redrawing the floral motif. I want the students to verbalized individually or in small groups the reason behind the design choices.


Next we select an acrylic color to outline the floral motif. Again, reviewing color theory to make color selection and I have the students verbalize reasons for design choices. I also discuss the difference between acrylic paint vs. watercolor.


The final step is the artists’ decision. We take white tempera paint and wash in the interior space of the floral motif, slowly adding thicker paint as desired. Students can then decide how much they would like to embellish the floral motif with acrylic or tempera paint. I discuss the limitations of tempera paint vs. acrylic vs. watercolor with the students.


We hold a final critique to discuss how the viewer visually flows through the painting composition, what could be improved, peers ask the artist design questions, and finally students sign the work for display.


Materials: Watercolor palette, tube watercolors, watercolor brushes, watercolor paper, silk flowers, HB pencils, eraser, acrylic and tempera paint.




  • Assessment on student’s knowledge and ability
  • Demonstrate how to set up materials and where to find materials
  • Model good execution of project and clean up

Review of the following terms and techniques:

  • Watercolor materials- brushes, palettes, and water container usage
  • Tints, shades, washes
  • Transparency and Opacity
  • Value Scale
  • How to read and understand the color wheel
  • Color Harmonies
  • Review the difference between watercolor paint VS acrylic paint VS tempera paint
  • Review direct observation
  • Line qualities
  • Positive and negative space
  • Review Modified Contour Line
  • Review Compositional Layout- asymmetrical VS symmetrical balance
  • Review language to use for working critique and final critique
  • Encourage originality
  • Review how to sign artwork






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