Monday, April 22, 2013

Janet Nunn Workshop: Landscapes in Watercolor

New techniques, new materials, a structured class and a finished painting – Janet Nunn’s workshop, Landscapes in Watercolor, offered a very enjoyable way to spend a Friday.
Janet’s enthusiasm and enjoyment of her craft is evident from the beginning – immediately  learning all the students’ names and showing confidence that we can all complete a landscape painting by following the steps outlined in her handout.

First, she showed us the finished version, a scene of Bear Creek Lake painted with Dr. Ph. Martin’s Hydrus liquid watercolors, which we were all anxious to try out. These allow for very vivid colors and ease of mixing.  Now being manufactured close to home, in Golden, Colorado, the company started out in 1935 with inks for coloring cartoon cels.  Thirty or so years later, the company expanded into fine art supplies which resulted in the Hydrus watercolors.
Janet mentioned a few other products she is partial to: Pebeo Drawing Gum and Fabriano watercolor paper.  She prefers Pebeo brand masking fluid because of its fluidity – it goes on like paint and doesn’t gum up, and Fabriano paper because it is a plant based paper – even Leonardo DaVinci used it.  Past problems with grease marks on other paper brands that use animal fat in their production led her to become loyal to Fabriano.
With our quarter sheets of watercolor paper Scotch taped (yes, Scotch tape!) to our boards, we drew in basic contour shapes of the scene then began masking certain areas as designated in her diagram.  Happy to share all her products, I tried the Pebeo and found it to be much more pleasant to use than my gummy old standby.

Breaking out the new paints, a few drops (Dr. Martin’s comes with eyedroppers in the bottles) on the palette were more than enough to paint in a glowing sky area.  While that dried, Janet demonstrated the next step, then sent us back to work.  She is a very “efficient” painter, for whom the convenience of Dr. Martin’s speeds up the painting process.  She doesn’t give her students time to “overthink” while painting, so the results end up fresh and clean.

On to the water next – three glazes of gorgeous color that give a glow to the water, like there’s gold to be found in that thar river!  What fun brushing on these intense colors, watching them exploding onto the paper, mixing together to achieve an impression of a secluded creek.

Janet continued to demo the steps outlined in her handout, giving individual attention to each student.  Along the way in her painting career, she has also picked up many handy tips, which she freely passed on to us. For instance, an easy mask pickup is a strip of masking tape, leaving the masked area much cleaner than rubbing with a crepe pick-up square.  And for applying masking fluid, a pastel color shaper is the ideal tool, and cleans up so easily.

Details were added to complete our masterpieces, then it was time for a critique.  With all of us having painted the same scene, it’s interesting to compare the similarities and differences of each.  But all had a soft glow in the sky and a serene feeling of water running by.

 Thank you Janet Nunn, for a fun and educational journey to Bear Creek Lake!  Janet Nunn’s watercolors can be viewed at  A live stream broadcast of her painting “Poppies, Bold and Bright” can be seen at

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