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Painting Value Studies in Watercolors

In this blog, I'll share some notes about why I'm working in watercolors, what tools I'm using, and presentation tips for your finished work. In this circuit I'll be working only in values (Black & White). Here's the previous "circuit" based on Gonzalo Carcamo's course on Schoolism.

value studies in watercolors based on the series Vikings

I'm kinda new to watercolors. I bought my first watercolors a few years ago, but I only started learning how to use them properly in 2018. As I used to be an oil painter, I'm not new to using brushes and mixing colors. However, watercolors work kinda the opposite way from oil paints!

With oil paints you work from the background to the foreground, knowing that you can use lighter colors in the foreground. Normally, with watercolors you need to preserve the white of the paper as you work from background to foreground because you don't paint light on dark. You can still do that if you want but it will look more like gouache, acrylics and oil painting. It's not a bad thing to work this way, it's just a different technique.

Anywho! Watercolors are so much fun to work with that I want them to be my go to medium.

Why Watercolors?


I want to be able to put my thought on paper quickly, be it in value only or in color. Watercolors are practical enough to use for concepts, color keys and sketching outdoors too. I highly recommend Nathan Fowkes's courses on Schoolism if this is a path you're considering. There's some overlap in his 4 courses but they're worth the time. I recommend doing them in this order:

  • Designing with color and light

  • Landscape Sketching in Watercolor & Gouache

  • Environment Design

  • Pictorial Composition


Another reason I want to focus on watercolors is that it is a great way to practice the following skills: