Watercolor Workshop: 4 Tips to Get Started

Let’s get started.

Taking a Leap

Watercolors are a dynamic medium filled with brightness and expression. They may seem daunting at first, but as a teaching tool (whether to children or in your own creative practice), watercolors present opportunities to practice short and long term planning, patience, and critical thinking. As we progress through the workshops, I will show you how to develop paintings using this expressive medium. These lessons are intended for beginning watercolorists and by parents and teachers with children in small groups.

Before you begin, you will need 3 things:


You don’t need a million brushes to get started, just one. When playing and practicing, I use a small round brush. Play around with your brushes and recreate some of the art below. Different shapes and sizes will produce different results: play with the brushes you have.

Paints & Clear Water

Prep your paints. Whether using artist grade tubes or children’s flats, you will want all of your paints and fresh rinsing water prepared and at hand before you begin. Watercolor relies on wetness to move and control pigment; stopping mid-image to mix new paints will show as blotchy marks in the final image.


I prefer to use a heavy weight, watercolor paper. These papers are heavy enough not to curl when wet applications are laid down. For lightweight papers, prepare them by wetting both sides and stretching with a gum tape. Allow the paper to fully dry again.

With your brushes, paints and paper prepared, you are ready to begin.

1. Play

Art and creativity are about play. Allow the inner child to explore the new medium. Enjoy the freedom you have and start painting geometric shapes and figures. With just a few strokes, I made these alligators and this strange dodo-bird.

The point, especially when teaching children, is to explore and make mistakes. Limit yourself to a single color to avoid muddying the images and use scraps of paper cut into strips and squares.

This is practice. Let it be free and fun. Get to know the medium with an open heart and paint what pops into your head. There are no mistakes here.

Just a few quick flips of the brush to make these little gators. You try it with a circle and a few quick swipes.
Fill up a whole page. It doesn’t matter what you paint, just fill the whole thing. Try different amounts of paint to water and see what happens.










2. Experiment

Try different types of applications. Apply colors to dry paper and to wet paper and see what happens. Try smudging wet paints or use varying amounts of pressure or paint on your brush. Mix colors!

There are many ways to have fun when experimenting with watercolor paints. A few key points: don’t over-mix your colors and always rinse and blot your brush between colors. A little blue in a lot of yellow still makes green.

This paint was still wet when I painted the leaf.
This paint was dry before i painted the leaf.
This paint was dry before i painted the leaf.








Paint a cloud and then swipe it away. Looks like rain to me.
Change the color on your brush to create a rainbow effect. Remember to rinse and pat your brush before lifting a new color. Let the colors mix on the page rather than in the pot.









3. Practice

Set aside a few hours each week to practice (one hour a day is a good rule of thumb for beginners; one hour twice a week is a good amount for grades 3-8 in the US).

Talent isn’t innate; it comes from the application of knowledge and skill. An athlete does not gain the muscles of his sport by sitting around; the same is true for an artist. Spend time developing your craft. As you practice, you will gain confidence and proficiencies in hand and style.

Vary the paint and wetness of your brush.
Mix the colors of your wash.
Mix the colors of your wash.
The top is a wet wash, allowing the colors to mix down the water naturally. The bottom is a dry wash, running the brush over a dry page. Skies and mountains are dark on top.
The top is a wet wash, allowing the colors to mix down the water naturally. The bottom is a dry wash, running the brush over a dry page. Skies and mountains are dark on top.











4. Celebrate

Praise your work. Whether you share it with a close friend, the world on social media, or hang it on the fridge for yourself, it is important that you celebrate your progress. When you have a next new favorite, share that.

Creativity is infinite. Believe in your ability to grasp it and it will fill your heart with boundless joy and energy.

Celebrate yourself with a big fat star!
Celebrate yourself with a big fat star!
Or mix a wash with some quick strokes to set the fireworks ablaze.
Or mix a wash with some quick strokes to set the fireworks ablaze.






SS CoverDreamy Desert CoverExplore more of my watercolors and share them with the kids in Sleepy Safari and Dreamy Desert, for your e-reading devices. The land of dreams is filled with happy, restful creatures in these sleepy-time readers.


On the Eleventh Night of Halloween

Halloween is Almost Here!

11 Imps-a-skulking
11 Imps-a-skulking

On the eleventh night of Halloween my mom-ster scared me with eleven imps-a-skulking, ten wolves-a-howling, nine wicked witches, eight zombies walking, seven trolls-a-trampling, six ghosts-a-haunting, Five Vampire Bats! four grinning pumpkins, three grunting goblins, two black cats and a skull for our skeleton tree. 

I’m celebrating with a little e-book, The Thirteen Nights of Halloween. This fully illustrated children’s book is a fun counting read for the whole family. Just sing along to the tune of the Twelve Days of Christmas!

And be sure to show some love to the Mom-ster in your life!

On the thirteenth night of Halloween my mom-ster frightened me with thirteen dancing devils...

Get Ready for Halloween with 100 Monsters!

100 Monsters on iTunes

100 Monsters on Kindle

There’s no need to be afraid of the dark or things that go bump in the night. Explore the world of myth and monsters in this 2 for 1 book! Children will delight at this adorable rhyming book and monster encyclopedia.

Each monster is fully illustrated in K. Ryan Henisey’s award winning, watercolor and ink style. Children and families will sing along, listing all the classical creatures that don’t scare them at all.

Both ‘100 Monsters’ and the ‘Monstrous Encyclopedia’ teach children not to be afraid. With sweet faces and bright smiles, each illustrated monster encourages bravery.

Perfect for reading aloud, ‘100 Monsters’ allows low level readers the opportunity to read a book over 100 pages long! Parents and teachers can read the rhyming book aloud, leaving young readers the opportunity to explore the encyclopedia at their leisure.

All of the monsters within the book are taken from global mythology, representing locations and stories from around the world.

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