Successful Live Watercolor Painting

In October I did a live painting at my art group, Visual Sanctuary: Alex Ferree On Expressive Watercolors.

One of the best things about watercolor painting live is the freshness of the activity.

You get cheerleaders as you paint.

The Exchange at Rose Lake

The Exchange at Rose Lake



The keys to enjoying yourself and entertaining others while you do your live watercolor painting is as follows:

  • Pick a graphically simple subject where you can really just focus on one area.
  • Pick a subject you know you can paint.
  • Take along photo reference.
  • If you can find a way to create a visual hook that draws attention to your work find it. (Bob Ross used fantastical stories to draw the viewer in as he would mysteriously make trees and mountains appear)
  • Have your underdrawing already complete and/or ready to trace onto your paper.
  • Use a limited palette. Trying to paint with complex colors takes more time and it takes away from the performance aspect of your painting.
  • Be available for comments and questions while you paint. If you are doing it live others will want to participate.
  • Know roughly how much time it will take ahead of time.
  • Do a practice painting of the subject before you do your live one, if at all possible.

It is work to do a painting in front of an audience. Use your time with them to show you care.

The fun part comes when people see the result.


One response to “Successful Live Watercolor Painting

  1. i like the post a lot because you lay out the guidelines so well, easy to understand and follow.

    it may seem strange that i got so much out of this, because i do pretty much the exact opposite when i paint. i’m an abstract expressionist, so my work is from the gut, not the mind. i paint with zero planning, no under drawings, no references. it’s just my heart and soul interacting with the medium.

    the one thing i do that’s like planning is deciding what mood and atmosphere i want to express. a lot of the time i even choose colors at random. i just stick my hand into the box i keep the watercolors in (tube paints) and take out a fistful. that’s my palette.

    i enjoy the post because it’s something new. i don’t know that i’ve ever tried to get to know very many different ways to use watercolors. it’s basic, but not dull or condescending. you have good ideas. i think i ought to try out your instructions because it would be interesting and would make me more versatile. :).

    Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s