There are a lot of watercolor instructors out there. Many are good, some mediocre, and others not worth the time. Among my favorites are Rick Surowicz, Oliver Pyle, and Shari Blaukopf. Most important is if I like their paintings or not! Next is their teaching style. In person classes are hard to find, get to, and can be expensive, but online courses are often repeatable. I am beginning to find this to be the best venue for my own learrning. Blaukopf has a number of short courses, very reasonably priced, which fous on this or that. Shari Blaukopf fits both criteria – great painter, great teacher.
I have purchased a number of her courses. Over time, her classes, already good, have gotten even better with more details and focused studies. You can learn a lot from copying a painting – a long, traditional history for the art student – but when you watch a painter achieve a painting, how they apply paint, when they explain their approach, learning is an even better experience.
I can paint snow and have done it fairly well, I think. What I enjoyed about this class was to see her sequence of painting, understand the logic behind her approach, as well as the fact that her painting is pretty direct. Shari applies her colors directly to the paper, sometimes mixing on the palette and other times on the paper while adding other colors. The key factor in her success is she does not overwork her painting!! She also explains why and where she is using hard and soft edges, as well as warm and cool colors. Not everyone is this clear.
In the end, her painting always have a lively freshness to them, with plenty of detail mixed with a painterly quality. Perhaps a lack of fussiness? Whatever it is, her painting seems very spontaneous to me. Seeing / learning how she achieves this has been the highlight of her classes. She is thoughtful, plans ahead, and yet achieves a looseness that is hard to match. As watercolor – or “watercolour” – is such a challenging medium, good techniques are like gold to me.