I have a secret way to watch painting classes.

I am a big fan of taking classes - there is an absurd number of them on my radar, I start many, finish some but I recently realized that there is a secret that helps me get more out of the learning. 

And that secret is: going back and watching the video without commentary. By cutting audio out of what I am focusing on I can notice the movements of the brush on the page, patterns of brushstrokes, and see as the painting comes together in phases. It gives me a different perspective.  

I got this way of watching videos from working with kids. No matter how much you prepare your instructions, how you plan the class, kids can listen to you talk only so much and they move at their own speed. But DOING will get them GOING. When you work with them side by side - the dynamic changes. That is when you can sync with them when they pick up your little tricks and use them in their way, on their projects or modify in some new and interesting ways and then you learn from them.  

So this week I was super excited about taking the latest of many classes from Shari Blaukopf.

It is called "Luminous Colour for Sketchers" and it is exactly that - an amazing opportunity to learn about making your watercolor sketches sing with light. And this class builds on her wonderful book "The Urban Sketching Handbook Working with Color" that came out almost two years ago. 

Shari is showing in detail how much water and how much paint goes into each mixture and how she makes colors luminous by mixing them on the page. There are many close-ups where you can see details very clearly (images below are screenshots from one of the class videos).

With Shari's class on my second pass, I slowed down the video, turned audio off, and tried to predict which area the brush will go to next, think about what I would do, and compare it to what she does.

I watched this class as if I was a kid - mimicking what is going on on the screen/page, mocking with my own interpretations, running ahead, then slowing down. I imagined that it is me making those color decisions and moving brush. 

And it was a lot of fun!


  1. Nina, I loved reading this. Right from the start of your very intriguing title!!
    And of course I will do this with the next course I take too! A gazillion thank yous.

  2. thanks, Shari! I am enjoying your wonderful class!

  3. EUREKA! Thanks for sharing your secret Nina. tip
    I've seen this play out with my 6 year old granddaughter who loves to paint with me. She prefers to watch what I do rather than follow what I say. I love seeing her interpret what she sees in her own way and then smile at the results.
    I will definitely try your slower, no-audio tip to re-watch classes and YouTube videos.

  4. Ohhh this is excellent! There's so much to learn from children, especially in art! I find myself asking 'how would a kid draw this' when trying to simplify shapes. A lot of my art journey lately has become about remembering the pure freedom and joy with which I approached an empty page as a child, so this tip reminds me to be really present with the process of making art. Thank you so much!