I Am Actually Impressed

Soon after I began learning to draw, I discovered online art tutorials. Not long afterward, I learned that some tutorials are better than others, and quite frankly, some instructors are better than others.

Over the last few years, I’ve watched a lot of art demonstrations. At times, I’ve become so frustrated that I’ve wiped away all I was doing, shut off the video, and moved on to a different project. Rarely have my “finished painting” results come anywhere close to the artist’s illustrations. As often as not, though, that’s my fault, not an indication of the instructor’s teaching abilities.

And, let’s be honest here about teaching. It’s not easy. Some artists are good at explaining techniques; others… not so much. Today I want to highlight an excellent online instructor and share a few thoughts about why her watercolor workshop was such a pleasure.

Her name is Trupti Karjinni. She has her own company, Blue Pine Arts, and is also associated with Princeton Brushes. She loves nature, so maybe that’s one of the reasons why I connected with her and her paintings.

I was introduced to Karjinni through the recent Sketchbook Revival event. She hosted an hour-long workshop on painting a summer landscape in watercolor.

I’m not good with watercolor, and I’ll admit I shook my head doubtfully when I saw the reference photo she provided for the workshop. Oh, well. “Give it a try,” I told myself, and I’m glad I did.

Unlike most of the other online instructors whose workshops I’ve attended or whose video tutorials I’ve watched, she didn’t immediately jump in to the project expecting us to simply follow along as she completed her painting.

Instead, she began by taking us step-by-step through the different watercolor techniques that we would be using. Yes! This is exactly the sort of information I needed. This was exactly the right approach for me.

Even better, she not only demonstrated the right techniques, she also showed us the wrong techniques so that we could see the difference and learn what to do and what not to do. Oh, my goodness! How very helpful this was.

We practiced on a separate sheet of paper, doing the different techniques:

  • Wet on dry
  • Wet on wet
  • Dry brush

And as we learned each technique, we “practiced” painting different areas of the reference photo.

I know you can’t read any of my hand-written notes, but you can see some of the practice exercises we did.

We painted a “practice” sky and clouds. I stared at my paper in amazement! I’ve always wanted to paint clouds in the sky with watercolor, but I never really knew how. We put down color swatches. We did a “practice” area for the foreground landscape using the dry brush technique we’d learned.

We practiced the distant trees, too, and as I practiced, my confidence grew. She made it all so simple. I knew I could take what I was learning from her and apply it to the final painting.

She showed us, too, how to tape off the page in our sketchbook, and she assured us that whatever we created would be beautiful. I believed her. I was impressed by her method of teaching, and as I worked on my painting, I was impressed, too, by the skies, the clouds, the distant trees, and the grassy foreground.

I was impressed with everything — except that sad-looking tree she suggested we add to the scene. That tree, you’ll notice, was the one element of the painting that we didn’t practice in advance. There’s a definite lesson to be learned there, I think.

Overall, I was pleased with this simple painting, and maybe the next one will be better. I’ll practice watercolor trees, and I’ll improve.

Ms. Karjinni also shared a lot of good tips for watercolor:

  • Always make a swatch of your colors so you’ll see how they look together
  • Always have clean water — you never want to paint with dirty water
  • When you’re mixing colors, test the result out on a piece of scrap paper before  you use it
  • Use the highest-quality watercolor paper you can

She made great suggestions, too, on how to create the shadows on our clouds, and how to work with several variations of a color to give additional interest to areas such as our foreground.

A simple painting with simple, straightforward instructions. That’s what this workshop was. By demonstrating each separate technique and allowing us an opportunity to practice before we began the actual painting, Ms. Karjinni helped us succeed. And, as an additional encouragement, she assured us that it’s all right if something doesn’t come out quite right. That’s the charm of art, and we have many more summer landscapes we can paint.

So, I’ll forgive myself for that tree.

 

20 Comments

  1. I think you’re being harsh on the little tree. It’s lovely. I agree, it’s hard to find a good teacher, and there’s some I don’t watch, either because of their style of teaching or because I can’t hear them properly (I have hearing issues).

    I’m really glad you enjoyed your lesson! The painting is really beautiful!

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Thank you. I really liked her methods of teaching, showing us how to do each element on a practice piece (except for that tree!) I learned a lot from this one workshop. That was a very satisfying feeling. 🙂

      Liked by 2 people

  2. It’s interesting to read how student feels about the instruction.
    It looks like you had a good workshop, certainly, one has to start somewhere.
    I have only given live art classes and I think I will stick to that. Learning a medium is a long journey and before one can paint they’d need to learn handling the brush, paints and water (as in watercolor). I’ve been always watching how students follow the instruction, and I should add to what you said about practice that knowing your own paints and colors and how they mix (or don’t) is very useful.
    Amazing journey! All the best!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It was really helpful to start with the basic techniques and practice them on a separate sheet of paper before we did our landscape scene. This one workshop probably taught me more about watercolors than all I’ve “picked up” on my own over the last 5 years. It was especially helpful when she demonstrated “right” and “wrong” techniques so we could really see the differences.

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  3. Great post! I just started wood burning but watercolor is next on my list to learn. I’ll have to keep this in mind 🙂
    And I know we are all our own worst critics… but I love the tree.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Gee, thanks! Several people have said they like that little tree. 🙂 I did wood-burning (a little) as a child, and my husband and I are wanting to do it together. We’ve looked around at tools but haven’t yet made the investment. As for learning watercolors, I would definitely recommend the teacher from this website. Angela Fehr also has some good online tutorials.

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      1. That’s great. With wood burning I had just picked up a little $15 gun from Walmart to get a feel for it. But it’s really neat and fun, and now my husband and I are both keeping an eye out for laser engravers! We would love to set up at a flea market.
        But you can do some pretty work even with the little gun. It’s just time consuming!

        Liked by 1 person

      2. It was just back with paints and canvases. Ours also has little planks of wood. I just picked up a $5 bag of wooden spoons to practice on. I paid $15 for the gun and it was pretty good for getting a feel for it! It came with 6 different tips.

        Liked by 1 person

      3. Wow! I’ve never seen anything like that at our Walmart, but I’ve never looked. I was there recently and I noticed that the arts/crafts area has expanded a LOT since the pandemic. I guess more people are doing more arts and crafts. On my next trip, I will look a little closer at what’s there. 🙂

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      4. Yes take a look! I am still surprised sometimes, our local Walmarts have macrame kits and latch hook and all kinds of stuff. I am sure you’re right the pandemic is horrible but people are gonna make money where they can🤷‍♀️

        Liked by 1 person

      5. I’d love to send you a picture of my first little project (the spoon) but I’m not sure how to on here. It’s pretty neat. I haven’t done a lot yet just that end of my cutting board but for ideas I just look up minimalist drawings of things, and that’s very doable with the wood burner!

        Liked by 1 person

      6. Are you on Facebook? If so, I’d love to connect there, and you can send me pictures. I really want to see what you’re doing. 🙂 If you are, look for Judith Kraus, Harrisonville MO and send me a friend request.

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      7. Oh my gosh I would love that but I deleted my Facebook account several months ago. People’s drama and politics were just taking it over and it was bringing me down. It’s not quite the same but I have a secondary craft and cooking blog if you’d like to see my stuff on there… I’m actually gonna share the wood burning projects later in the week, I have started scheduling my posts ahead of time because we get busy once the weather breaks.
        It’s called Green Gemini, and there is a link to it under the menu of my southpaw poet blog. I have like 8 followers or something lol but I post 3 times a week on that one.

        Liked by 1 person

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