Thursday, February 4, 2010

Watermedia Class I'm Taking in Fallbrook, CA

Work In Progress by Helen Shafer Garcia 

Back in December, when I thought I was on Christmas vacation and would have a job to come back to, I decided to spend some of my Christmas money on some art classes. 

I discovered a wonderful San Diego artist named,  Helen Shafer Garcia . I saw she was teaching a one day workshop, but then discovered she also teaches the same class in an eight week session at The Fallbrook School of The Arts. I registered for her watermedia class, which starts up again in April.

This photo shows students gathered around Helen, on the left in red, watching her demonstrate. That's my art buddy Diane Chen on the right.

We learned two major techniques in Week 3; pouring and masking. 

Our assignment was to select a photo with an animal or group of animals in a landscaped setting. You can see a photo of a quail on a log on the table in the photo above in the foreground. That's the one Diane used.

Here's is Diane's watercolor after the pouring.

Helen instructed us to use only primary colors for the pour, but we could select any shade or brand of blue, yellow and red. This techniques works for acrylics, as well as watercolors. I chose Turquoise, Cad Red Light and Lemon Yellow by Grumbacher. 

Here's my painting after the pour, with a few drops of alcohol added to the bottom.

After we sketched the drawing, we applied a mask to the white area's of the paper. The mask acts as a resist, so when the paint is poured over the area, it skims right over it. We used Arches 140 lb. paper. Helen says it's the most durable and can take a beating. Next, I have to lift off the mask and paint in some details.

Here's a student in the process of pouring paint onto her painting.We mixed the three colors of watercolor paint with water in small plastic bottles, stirred it up extremely well and then poured it over one area at a time.

She decided to spray more water on one area to move the paint around some more.

She's added her three colors and is now cleaning up the edges. We tape our paper to a sturdy surface, such as a board. Then you add clean water onto the paper continuously for one minute. Then you pour one color at a time beginning with the lightest color first. Helen brought in a large black, plastic tub to serve as our makeshift sink.


Helen demonstrating how to do the next steps after the pour. We learned how to "glaze" the negative shapes in more layers in Week 1. She showed us how to remove the masking fluid and then use a cheap paint brush to lightly scrap back some of paint around the mask, so it doesn't leave such a harsh white line.
The white area's in the nose and above it were scraped to soften the white. I love her little koala! I hope I get to see it when it's finished.

I've already learned so much in this class! Helen is a wonderful teacher and works with artists in all levels of experience. She specialized in not making mud. I'm excited to go to this class every week to see what she has in store for us next.

Please don't think for a minute I regret spending my Christmas money on art classes! Even though I learned the radio show I was on got canceled and I no longer have a job, this is an investment in my continuing education. I need art to live as much as I need groceries and gas for my car. I used my Christmas money for those things as well and would have felt like I ripped myself off by not buying any new art classes. For now, I have no job to go to, but I have this wonderful watermedia class to enrich my life. Today I have everything I need.


  1. This is wonderful! Thank you for taking the time to explain the steps involved. This is something I've got to try. I'm with you, I love her koala, but the other pieces you've shown are great, too. I'd say it was money well spent and I hope you find something soon to support your art habit! :)

  2. This class really looks like a lot of fun - and your photos give us the opportunity to almost take part ... thanks for sharing!

  3. I loved seeing the watercolors in progress. I'm glad you spent your Christmas money and took the class!!

  4. Good job Ruthie, I like your photo and can't wait to see the finished project.

  5. I am amazed by the amount of classes/workshops that you are attending. But through the explanation of needing art as much as food and gas, I can completely understand that! As a full time art student (part time desk job to pay the bills) I have the luxury (as I know it is a luxury) of attending art classes on a regular basis. The dedication to art will keep you whole while the other chaoses rage. Look forward to seeing more. - Jaime Lyerly

  6. Wow Ruthie....thanks so much for all of the info about my class and website! Great photos too! See you next week in class.... can't wait to see your quail painting. Helen

  7. so enjoyed reading of your class. I look forward to seeing your finished painting. I think out of all the stuff one can do with w/c....pouring is the most fun!!! Its always a delight to see what you can envision within the painting! Enjoy! Its good for the spirit!

  8. Hi Nina, What an exciting series of classes you're taking . . . I'm so envious of all that you are experiencing and learning! What fun!

  9. Interesting that you blogged about watercolors and Fallbrook. Just read today that Fallbrook Art Center is starting an exhibit of watercolor work Sunday and runs through 3/28/2010. It costs $5 for 16+, free for active military. This is the "National Watercolor Society's Traveling Exhibition" & "signature Watercolor Exhibition" as it was written in the paper. for more info. I'll be there at least once for sure, hopefully, you will too Ruthie. I'll keep my ears open for the sweetest laugh.