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Watercolor Fundamentals

Gonzalo Carcamo
5 Lessons (3h 12m)
5 Week(s)

Two Ways to Learn


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  1. Watch Video Lessons at Your Own Pace
  2. Assignments Included
  3. Peer Feedback
  4. Switch Courses as Often as You Like
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  1. Watch Video Lessons with a Planned Curriculum
  2. Scheduled Assignments with Deadlines
  3. Personalized Paint-Overs and Real-Time Feedback From The Instructors
  4. Watch Video Lessons and Peer Feedback as Often as You'd Like
  5. Ability to Contact Instructor with Questions
  6. Digital Certificate of Completion
  7. Weekly Class Meetings LIVE on Zoom
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Course Description

"One of the beautiful things about watercolor is the unexpected accidents that happen during the painting process. Even the original artist can't reproduce the same accident twice." - Gonzalo Carcamo

Through decades of persistence, practice, and his love of art, specifically watercolor, Carcamo's work has gained the attention of the art community. Many call him the Avatar Waterbender for his incredible knowledge and master control of this chaotic medium. Through this course, Carcamo will share with you a step-by-step process of how to approach watercolor and how to plan out a piece. He'll also be giving you instructions and exercises to fully absorb his techniques, starting from the beginning of how to set up your materials and what types of brushes to use, and then walking you through the fundamental skills of creating seemingless blending practices. From there, you will be taught how to paint monochromatic and full color scenes, as well as tackling the challenge of painting people. Carcamo has been teaching in Sao Paulo, Brazil for over a decade now but this is his very first class online and in English. We are very excited and honoured to bring to you Watercolor Fundamentals with a true master, Carcamo.

  • Adobe Photoshop

Lesson Plan

Learning to master gradations with watercolor is one of the most important techniques to know. These studies are very helpful in understanding the saturation and intensity level of a watercolor pigment.

To make a gradation from the color sepia to white, in mediums such as oil or acrylic, you could gradually apply white over sepia until you achieve the desired color on the canvas. However in watercolor, there are important rules to follow to achieve the same desired outcome.

These monochromatic studies are excellent exercises to understand the way that watercolor behaves, along with its best ally, water. It is possible to use just one color and water in order to represent light and structure.

By carefully observing the elements of a scene, studying reference from my watercolor painting will help you to understand the importance of simplification, and how to enhance the represented forms; not only by understanding how the forms work in a literal sense, but also how they feel. Soon, it will be possible to repeat these monochromatic studies by using images from your own reference files, while keeping in mind everything that you have learned.

These studies use references that are 50% reduced in color saturation from their original image. This lesson will guide you in planning out your painting. You'll learn how to combine colors and control the intensity of the pigments. By reducing the intensity of your colors, it will help you to refine your eye as an artist, which will lead you to further understand and experiment in more subtle color variations.

Before starting your painting, make sure to look closely and study the whitest and clearest area of your reference. You should always plan and think a few steps ahead. This will also help you make corrections if necessary.

Studying the human figure and its various compositions, such as figures in movement or in activity, allows you to explore forms in their various gestures and attitudes. You'll learn to use harmonious watercolor stains, and reduce line work.

Keep in mind, that the idea of painting in watercolor is not to merely color in a drawing, but to use the natural effects of watercolor to blend or separate the various elements. You want to keep your value statement simple to allow the paint to represent the forms clearly.

Quite often these figures cannot be the main focal point of the painting. They are just part of a much larger scene, like people running in a park, walking down a street, or strolling down a beach. However, never neglect these seemingly minor characters. If poorly executed, they can become unwanted leading focal points.

These studies of light and shadow demand more control of your color palette. Once you have experienced this, you will realize that when the watercolor pigment dries on paper, it will lose its intensity and fade just a little. Pay attention to the levels of moisture of your paper and use it to connect or separate the watercolor stains. You can clearly notice it in 3 stages:

Wet paper: the paper remains shiny. If you apply pigment at this stage, the stain will fuse and spread on the wet paper rapidly. Moist paper: the paper has lost its shine. If you put down paint at this stage, the stain will spread just slightly. Dry paper: the paper is opaque. If you apply the pigment at this stage, the stain will maintain its definition and will not spread, unless you connect it to another wet area with your brush.

Pay attention to all of the little "accidents" that may happen during your studies. They must become part of your practice in order to work with them.

Before starting your painting, please remember to observe the lightest area, and remember to plan and organize your work. You will achieve better results this way, and you will be able to make quick adjustments if you need to. Also, try to register the lightest tones first and then gradually apply the darkest ones. Remember that shadows aren't solid forms, they are just less lit, transparent areas. This means you have to consider the shadow temperature, and how the light changes the scene.

At the beginning, it is very important to work in an orderly manner to gain confidence. After that, with more experience and familiarity with your techniques, you will be able to change this sequence and find your own way to use this wonderful language of painting with watercolor.

Don't believe in formulas. Remember to constantly experiment and study a lot!


Gonzalo Carcamo

As a child, Carcamo has always been very interested in art and was fortunate to have started his creative endeavours at a young age. His art career has spanned the industries of advertising, journalism, literature, children's books and animation. His weekly publications in the Brazilian newspaper, Pasquim gained wide recognition for his watercolor techniques and started his long journey with major newspapers and magazines such as Grafica (Brazil), El Pais (Spain), and Apsi (Chile). Many people recognize his work from their favorite children's books such as Modelo Vivo Natureza Morta, Lorotas da Cobra Gabi, Tenorio, and Thapa Kunturi. When he's not doing commercial work, Carcamo enjoys plein air painting and teaching watercolor at his studio at the heart of Vila Mariana in Sao Paulo, Brazil.