A fun technique that creates a soothing and mysterious atmosphere: put down a rich watercolor wash in two or more shades of blue. Drip rubbing alcohol into the wet paint to create bubbles. Then use only white (or, in this case, white and pale green) to draw your subject. Don’t draw too much –leave parts of the scene to the imagination of the viewer. Fun!
…and they’ve been keeping me very busy over the past few weeks, as my “Draw and Paint Fairies in Nature” online course rolls along. I’ll soon be turning my attention (and my pencil) back to other subjects. I’ll re-offer “Drawn & Decorated Watercolor Lettering” beginning April 28, and “Birds in Colored Pencil” beginning May 12. Yay!
What do you get when you combine figure drawing, plant/animal/insect sketches, basic watercolor techniques, drawing natural habitat — then season the mixture with fairy tale illustration? An interactive online course called Draw & Paint Fairies in Nature, which begins next week. There are still a few places left in this work-at-your-own-pace, personally guided drawing adventure. Here’s the sequence of our 10 lessons — the “Draw” segment of each is done in students’ sketchbooks, and the “Paint” segment is done in simple watercolor with a bit of colored pencil:
Lesson 1: Where do fairies come from? Draw: Val’s four-step sketch technique, infant proportions, simple facial features, sketch exercise. Paint: Using gouache, making skin tones, glazing and lifting color, baby fairy project.
Lesson 2: How do fairies fly? Draw: Toddler proportions, drawing different kinds of wings, sketch exercise. Paint: Very young fairy in flight.
Lesson 3: Why do fairies love flowers? Draw: Six-year-old proportions, drawing favorite flowers, sketch exercise. Paint: Garden fairy child.
Lesson 4: What do fairies wear? Draw: Older child proportions, creating clothing from nature, creating clothing for fairy royalty, drawing fabric, drawing fairy hats and caps, sketch exercise. Paint: Your own fairy finery.
Lesson 5: Where do fairies live? Draw: Teen proportions, sketching fairy habitats, sketch exercise. Paint: A fairy at home.
Lesson 6: Why do birds allow fairies to ride on their backs? Draw: Adult female fairy proportions, drawing birds, drawing the seated figure, sketch exercise. Paint: Fairy riding a favorite bird.
Lesson 7: Who are the fairies’ other friends? Draw: Adult male fairy proportions, drawing small woodland creatures, sketch exercise. Paint: Fairy with a furry friend of your choice.
Lesson 8: Can fairies live in the water? Draw: Water sprites and naiads, drawing fins and scales, sketch exercise. Paint: Water sprite painted over a toned color wash, a trick for creating bubbles, creating very unusual skin tones.
Lesson 9: Are fairies always young? Draw: Older adult proportions and features, how to show age and wisdom, how to draw gray or white hair, sketch exercise. Paint: A fairy godmother.
Lesson 10: Are all fairies good? Draw: Expressive faces and actions – how to show a sly or mischievous nature, how to tell a story with your drawing, sketch exercise. Paint: A trickster fairy.
I am honored — and very excited — to be teaching a two-day workshop at Grand Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve, one of the most remarkable ecosystems in the Gulf Coast region. Set for Friday and Saturday, May 9 – 10, this wonderful event is co-sponsored by the Walter Anderson Museum of Art and is called Artist-Naturalist Workshop: An Introduction to Botanical Art. It’s designed for anyone with a interest in the natural world, regardless of art experience.
In addition to sessions on field drawing, basic botanical art techniques, drawing microscopic plant material, working with watercolor and colored pencil, and art journaling, we’ll also go on a daily plant walk (one day freshwater habitat, the next day saltwater habitat) and see the estuary up close during a sunset kayak paddle. My co-instructors, coastal ecologist Jen Buchanan and WAMA education director Melissa Johnson, bring a wealth of knowledge and insight to our schedule. This will be a creative adventure that will sharpen your powers of observation and change the way you see (and draw) plants. It’s going to be a lot of fun!
Participants may spend the night Friday — Grand Bay NERR has dormitory accommodations — and both breakfast and lunch are provided on Saturday. If you live in the area and prefer to go home at night, that’s fine, too. The cost of the two-day workshop is $95 (or $85 for Walter Anderson Museum members) and the number of spaces is limited. This event is expected to fill very quickly. The complete itinerary for both days, plus additional info and a registration form, can be printed by clicking this link:
To sign up, call Melissa Johnson at 228-872-3164.
Below this image is a link that will allow you to print this page full-size. Enjoy!
I’ve been having fun, creating examples for different watercolor techniques as I build up material for the Draw & Paint Fairies online course. This little naiad (water sprite) is balancing on a bubble that resulted from dripping alcohol into a layer of ultramarine blue gouache. Instant gratification — and a handy way to avoid trying to paint around all those round shapes! I photographed the process, step-by-step, and will weave it into a lesson on color wash backgrounds. I “borrowed” her spiny wing structure from an Asian flying fish.
With step-by-step guidance, learn to create “gentle pencil” foundation drawings and then layer rich colors on top to create elegantly detailed, illustration-quality colored pencil images. This course uses detailed video demonstrations of technique, step-by-step illustrated printables and personal feedback on completed projects. New lessons post every Monday on our class website for nine weeks, but you have four full months to complete the material. We’ll mix up classical drawing theory with a dose of natural history, with topics including drawing feather texture, drawing birds in flight, shading for highlights and shadows, color blending, basic bird anatomy, drawing birds of prey, drawing backgrounds and habitat, drawing birds’ eggs and nests, and much more. No experience necessary, and the supply list is quite basic. Pre-registration is required, and is payable by check or PayPal. To sign up, email me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.
No previous experience necessary! Learn to create decorated letters using watercolor, Pigma Micron pens, pencils and a brush. Participants will have four months to complete ten projects. Class projects include:
- Three easy methods for making decorative and illuminated initials.
- Surprisingly simple techniques for Celtic knotwork.
- Using “quickhand” techniques to make art journals or notebooks more beautiful.
- Colorful, whimsical letters based on medieval alphabets (how to draw them, how to use them).
- Creative page design that combines lettering and other images.
- Vines and flourishes – watercolor letters inspired by Art Nouveau.
- Guidelines for designing your own unique personal alphabet.
- Combining color, form and attitude to make your letters sing.
Registered participants will receive access to:
- Video demonstrations with step-by-step guidance for each technique.
- A warm-up lettering exercise for each lesson.
- Illustrated instructions (PDF)
- Examples for each lesson, designed to guide and inspire you.
- Personal help when needed and feedback when each lesson is completed.
Pre-registration is required, and is payable either by check or PayPal. To sign up, email me directly at email@example.com.
Drawing Dogs & Cats
Starting January 27, 2014
8 Lessons – work at your own pace
No experience necessary — the only prerequisite for this course is a love of our four-legged family members. Working in pencil for some projects, black-and-white charcoal pencil for others, develop your drawing skills by learning to create glossy fur, expressive eyes, animals in action and at rest. Topics include drawing puppies and kittens at different stages of growth, four techniques for drawing white fur, drawing realistic dog noses, drawing dog and cat caricatures and more. Very minimal supply list. Pre-registration is required, and is payable by check or PayPal. To sign up, email me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Draw & Paint Fairies in Nature
Starting February 17, 2014
10 Lessons – work at your own pace
Includes 24 illustrated pdf pages of step-by-step techniques
Bonus: Printable version of Val’s hand-lettered fairy sketchbook
This information-packed course begins with techniques for drawing fairy children, then combines these lovely and legendary creatures with botanical, bird, insect and small animal subjects of your choice to form the unique hidden world just beyond our garden gates. Learn about fairy proportion from infant to adolescent, how to show physical and facial expressions, how to draw assorted wings and attire, how to create a background, how to draw fairies in action (and in flight) or at rest. Discover techniques for using color to create a rich natural atmosphere. We’ll use a combination of pencil and watercolor — with a touch of colored pencil — for our weekly warm-up exercises and drawing projects. The set of printable illustrated pdf pages that accompany the lessons will form a drawing handbook to keep your fairy-drawing skills fresh long after the course has concluded. Pre-registration is required, and is payable by check or PayPal. To sign up, email me directly at email@example.com.
PLEASE NOTE: This course is open to anyone, regardless of drawing experience, but you will enjoy it (and benefit from it) more if you already have some basic drawing skills. If you are new to drawing, I encourage you to take any of my other online courses first — then sign up for Draw & Paint Fairies in Nature.
Draw & Paint Six Culinary Herbs
Starting March 3, 2014
10 Lessons – work at your own pace
It’s not your typical botanical drawing course. My new online class series, “Draw & Paint Six Culinary Herbs,” will incorporate all the things that make the humble kitchen garden a place of a thousand small delights. In addition to learning to create softly shaded pencil studies, spirited ink-and-wash sketches and richly layered color renderings that combine watercolor and colored pencil, we’ll also explore the history and folklore associated with our six herbs. Each lesson will include art demo videos, printable illustrated instruction pages and photo tutorials posted on our private class website — as well as illustrated tips on growing, harvesting and using our culinary collection. Pre-registration is required, and is payable by check or PayPal. To sign up, email me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.
All images and text (c) 2013 Val Webb
I love drawing fairies. They allow me to combine all my favorite art subjects (children, botanicals, birds, insects, small furry animals) in various whimsical combinations to create a gentle world where you can fish from the top of a Great Blue Heron or hitch a ride on a passing opossum.
Starting on February 17, 2014, I will teach a very special online course, Draw & Paint Fairies in Nature. This is the most ambitious course I’ve ever created, and in addition to 10 interactive lessons there will be 24 illustrated pdf pages that can be assembled to make a handbook of my fairy drawing techniques. Each participant will also get a printable version of my personal hand-lettered fairy sketchbook.
Learn about fairy proportion from infant to adolescent, how to show physical and facial expressions, how to draw assorted wings and attire, how to create a background, how to draw fairies in action (and in flight) or at rest. Discover techniques for using color to create a rich natural atmosphere. We’ll use a combination of pencil and watercolor — with a touch of colored pencil — for our weekly warm-up exercises and drawing projects.
As always, lessons will post on a password-protected website weekly and are work-at-your-own-pace. There will be a four-month window for completion of the course, and I will provide personal guidance and feedback whenever you request it.
While this course is open to students at all levels of art experience, you will enjoy it much more if you already have a few basic drawing skills. If you are just starting out, I encourage you to sign up for one of my other drawing courses first … and then take Draw & Paint Fairies in Nature.
The cost of the course is $85. Pre-registration is required, and is payable by a check or PayPal. (You do not have to have a PayPal account to make the payment.) There will be a limited number of participants, so your payment must be received to hold your place. To sign up, email me at email@example.com.
There’s nothing fancy about the boat-tailed grackle, a lanky relative of the blackbird and the oriole. Grackles populate the coast from Texas to Long Island, and are the goats of the bird kingdom — they will eat just about anything they find, from small crustaceans to scavenged dumpster fare.
But if you have a hankering to try drawing an iridescent surface, the boat-tailed grackle is your ideal model. A sheen of shimmering blue, purple or copper play over these birds in sunlight. Microscopic structures on their feathers break light apart, like a prism, and create a reflected rainbow.
(This fellow was drawn with Prismacolor colored pencils on medium-weight Bristol vellum. He was the demonstration drawing for my online course, Birds in Colored Pencil.)