Online Class: Watercolor Painting 101

In this course you will learn the basics of one of the most enduring art forms in our culture: watercolor painting. It is the easiest way of expressing yourself through art and has a long history

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  • 11
  • 19
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  • 4,440
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  • 9
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Course Description

"Mastering the Mesmerizing World of Watercolor: A Comprehensive Guide"

Welcome to an artistic odyssey that promises to unlock the mysteries of one of the most poetic and timeless mediums: watercolor painting. This evocative art form, which has whispered the secrets of the great maestros of yesteryears, is about to unravel its magic to you.

Watercolor painting is more than just a hobby; it's an expression, a language without words. While its roots trace back to ancient civilizations, its beauty remains undiminished, proving its ageless charm. The power of watercolor lies in its versatility; whether you're capturing the soft hues of a morning sky or the vibrant burst of autumn leaves, this medium offers a spectrum of possibilities.

However, venturing into the vast universe of watercolor can be daunting. Rows upon rows of art supplies, a plethora of brands, and the sheer diversity of tools can leave beginners overwhelmed. But fret not. Our course is designed to be your guiding light, your beacon in this vast expanse.

Course Highlights:

  1. A Historical Walkthrough: Understand the rich tapestry of watercolor art's history. From ancient murals to the Renaissance maestros, discover the evolution of this age-old technique.

  2. Foundations First: We ensure a strong grounding in basics. From understanding the paper's tooth to mastering the dance of wet-on-wet, we've got you covered.

  3. Demystifying Art Supplies: Navigate the labyrinth of art stores with confidence. We'll break down everything - from choosing the right palette to understanding brush anatomy, like its 'belly-width'.

  4. Professional Insights: Learn not just from one, but several master artists. Their tips, tricks, and hacks could be the difference between a good painting and a great one.

  5. Critique & Appreciation: Witness an in-depth analysis of iconic watercolor masterpieces, understanding the techniques employed, and drawing inspiration.

  6. Hands-On Practice: Engage in step-by-step exercises. Start with simple strokes and gradually transition to full-fledged compositions.

  7. Interactive Learning: Unlike many courses that rely on passive learning, we adopt an interactive approach. This ensures knowledge retention and provides room for creativity.

  8. Building a Watercolor Lexicon: Acquaint yourself with essential terminologies. Whether it's understanding 'value' in painting or distinguishing between gradients, you'll speak the watercolor language fluently.

  9. Community Building: Connect with fellow learners and artists. Share, learn, and grow together in a nurturing environment.

  10. Tailored for All: This course is a universal fit. Whether you're dabbling out of curiosity, reigniting a lost passion, or considering a professional journey, our curriculum caters to varied aspirations.

Dive into this enchanting world, where each brushstroke tells a tale, where every wash sings a melody. Envision, create, and narrate your stories on canvas. As you immerse yourself, remember: it's not just about the art but also the joyous journey, the therapeutic rhythm of the brush, and the dance of colors on paper.

So, let's embark on this voyage together. Let's paint dreams, let's weave magic. Let the watercolor adventure begin!

Course Motivation

Watercolor has been called a "wonderfully untameable medium". The writer of one of the premiere books on the art, Cathy Johnson, writes further that it is alive and has a mind of its own. Working with watercolor can indeed be maddening. However, the payoff of producing a work that mirrors the image in your mind can be more satisfying with watercolor than it is with any other kind of art. Even the masters of watercolor are, at the end of the day, a slave to the mood of their brush. Whether you are just starting out or have been at it for forty years, your control over the brush will never be perfect and that is part of the fun! 

Watercolor is the first form of art that many new artists come across. Watercolor kits are much cheaper than gathering the expensive vials of paint and easier than learning how to mix the perfect set of hues into the color you need when it comes to oil painting. In fact, most elementary school art programs will see each child pick up a brush at least once, soaking it in water, brushing it along little tablets of color, and dabbing the brushes against a thick piece of construction or cold press textured paper. Here young children produce their first tree, their first bird, their first portrait of a friend, before terms like "subject" or "still lifeenter the fray. 

Watercolor is something that anyone can do, and that can be done pretty much anywhere. And yet, if this form of art becomes ingrained upon the soul as it has done with millions of other people, there are professional tools and techniques that can take your hobby to the next level. Knowing more about watercolor can bring you closer to art in general, allowing you to better understand the paintings you visit at art galleries or museums. 

Yes, watercolor is for more than just grade-schoolers learning to reproduce the world around them. In fact, watercolor may be the world's oldest form of painting. Alongside charcoal cave drawings and stone carvings, ancient people would combine water with different forms of pigmentation, blending together a color that could be used to paint upon the walls of caves and upon stone or wooden icons. As civilization developed, so too did this form of art. The Egyptians used watercolor to paint upon papyrus and parchment. 

On the other side of the known ancient world, watercolor painting established itself in China in six millennia ago, and in fact, watercolor painting from Asia is perhaps more famous than the elite watercolor paintings of Renaissance Europe. Previous to that era much of the watercolor painting was done on stone walls or pots. However, advances in papermaking allowed the artform to become portable and to be used in the creation of individual paintings.The leading watercolorist from Europe during this era was Albrecht Dürer, a German painter who became highly notable during his time and is considered to be one of the greatest painters who ever lived. His notability largely came from his importing of Italian innovations to the north and his own novel inventions that took watercolor painting to a high level.  


The father of modern watercolor painting is Albrecht Dürer--one of history's greatest artists. He is considered to be the greatest artist of the northern Renaissance, and is heralded in the same echelon of artistic perfection as Leonardo da Vinci and Michelangelo were to the south. He wasn't just a great artist though. He was a driver of innovation in the art of printmaking, wood carving, and watercolor. He was famous for the excellent detail he was able to capture with his watercolors, as can be seen in this study entitled Wing of a Roller, completed in 1512. Like many other men of his time, he wrote extensively about the subject of art and art technique. 
His watercolors are among the most studied paintings in European history. He developed the concept of watercololandscapes, which is among the most common forms of art seen incontemporary galleries. He also imported advances from Renaissance Italy into the north, and became an apostle of these revolutionary techniques within Germany and the other northern states. But he is known to have surpassed the skill of all his Italian contemporaries, including the use of Venetian blue paper, which allowed greater contrasts in the work of watercolor painters. 
Watercolor is sometimes used as a general term to include all water-based paints, including acrylic paint--one of the most common contemporary mediums. This course focuses on the use of transparent watercolor, as the use of acrylics or tempura mediums is a very different form of art that requires different tools and techniques.This does not mean that watercolor painting cannot inform your efforts in other artforms and the use of other mediums. In fact, the unpredictable nature of watercolor painting allows you to hone your techniques and perfect your manipulation of the paint on the page or canvas, as the use of oil or acrylic paints can be more exacting, permanent, and can offer less experience in experimentation.

The watercolor paintings many people are first exposed to are not the European works, but those of the Chinese and Japanese masters. In this part of the world watercolor is the dominant artform, while in Europe and the US, oil or acrylicpainting has generally more popular. Here, painting is done on paper but also on screens, to create ornate doorways, wall coverings, and even clothing. Another popular use of watercoloring is in the illuminated manuscripts of Europe, where bright light can pass through the paper and paint to create a brilliant effect. Almost every famous artist has works done in watercolor, but the great books of the middle ages almost all have a famous manuscript done in watercolor, bringing to life their pages in a way that only watercolor uniquely can. 

So you see, watercolor is more than a basic form of transforming your thoughts into art. It is not just a stepping stone to more complex artistic mediums. Watercolor in and of itself is one of the most important methods of creating art. By engaging in watercolor painting you are connecting yourself to your ancient ancestors, to the most artistic brilliant minds who ever lived, and to a culture of contemporaries that carry on this great form of art into the future.

  • Completely Online
  • Self-Paced
  • Printable Lessons
  • Full HD Video  
  • 6 Months to Complete
  • 24/7 Availability
  • Start Anytime
  • PC & Mac Compatible
  • Android & iOS Friendly
  • Accredited CEUs
Universal Class is an IACET Accredited Provider

Course Lessons

Average Lesson Rating:
4.6 / 5 Stars (Average Rating)
"Extraordinarily Helpful"
(1,158 votes)

Lesson 1: An Introduction to Watercolor

Introduction to watercolor painting and a brief history. 110 Total Points
  • Lesson 1 Video
  • Lesson discussions: Reasons for Taking this Course
  • Complete: Lesson 1 Assignment
  • Complete Assignment: Introduction

Lesson 2: Getting Started

The tools needed for painting, and some of the options available. 100 Total Points
  • Lesson 2 Video
  • Complete: Lesson 2 Assignment

Lesson 3: Choosing Your Equipment

This lesson will focus on the three basic elements—your brush, your paint, and your paper. 100 Total Points
  • Lesson 3 Video
  • Complete: Lesson 3 Assignment

Lesson 4: Working with Color

Concepts of color and mixing paints. 100 Total Points
  • Lesson 4 Video
  • Complete: Lesson 4 Assignment

Lesson 5: Watercolor Techniques

The basic techniques used in watercolor painting. 300 Total Points
  • Lesson 5 Video
  • Complete: Lesson 5-1 Assignment
  • Complete: Lesson 5-2 Assignment
  • Complete: Lesson 5-3 Assignment

Lesson 6: Practicing the Principals of Design

The seven design principals and elements. 300 Total Points
  • Lesson 6 Video
  • Complete: Lesson 6-1 Assignment
  • Complete: Lesson 6-2 Assignment
  • Complete: Lesson 6-3 Assignment

Lesson 7: Basic Painting

The first thing almost all watercolor painters will tell you is that watercolor painting is anything but an exact science. 200 Total Points
  • Lesson 7 Video
  • Complete: Lesson 7-1 Assignment
  • Complete: Lesson 7-2 Assignment

Lesson 8: Steps to Creating Your Painting

Recreating the photograph contained in watercolor form. 100 Total Points
  • Lesson 8 Video
  • Complete: Lesson 8 Assignment

Lesson 9: More Simple Projects

Different forms of projects. 100 Total Points
  • Lesson 9 Video
  • Complete: Lesson 9 Assignment

Lesson 10: Five Quick Ways to Improve your Art

Alternative ways of improving your work. 100 Total Points
  • Lesson 10 Video
  • Complete: Lesson 10 Assignment

Lesson 11: Composition

The importance of composition. 300 Total Points
  • Lesson 11 Video
  • Lesson discussions: What do you think about this course?; Program Evaluation Follow-up Survey (End of Course); Course Comments
  • Complete: The Final Assignment
  • Complete Assignment: Final Painting and Thoughts
  • Complete Assignment: Be Creative
Total Course Points

Learning Outcomes

By successfully completing this course, students will be able to:
  • Describe what water color painting is.
  • Identify the equipment you need to do water color painting.
  • Demonstrate working with color.
  • Demonstrate watercolor techniques.
  • Demonstrate practicing the principals of design and basic painting.
  • Demonstrate steps to creating your painting.
  • Demonstrate mastery of lesson content at levels of 70% or higher.

Additional Course Information

Online CEU Certificate
  • Document Your Lifelong Learning Achievements
  • Earn an Official Certificate Documenting Course Hours and CEUs
  • Verify Your Certificate with a Unique Serial Number Online
  • View and Share Your Certificate Online or Download/Print as PDF
  • Display Your Certificate on Your Resume and Promote Your Achievements Using Social Media
Document Your CEUs on Your Resume
Course Title: Watercolor Painting 101
Course Number: 8900197
Lessons Rating: 4.6 / 5 Stars (1,158 votes)
Languages: English - United States, Canada and other English speaking countries
Availability: This course is online and available in all 50 states including: California, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, New York, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Texas, and Washington.
Last Updated: September 2023
Course Type: Self-Paced, Online Class
CEU Value: 0.9 IACET CEUs (Continuing Education Units)
CE Accreditation: Universal Class, Inc. has been accredited as an Authorized Provider by the International Association for Continuing Education and Training (IACET).
Grading Policy: Earn a final grade of 70% or higher to receive an online/downloadable CEU Certification documenting CEUs earned.
Assessment Method: Lesson assignments and review exams
Instructor: Nancy Fillip
Syllabus: View Syllabus
Course Fee: $120.00 U.S. dollars

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Student Testimonials

  • "I thought this instructor was excellent! I learned so much from her and she presents things easily understandable and she communicates better than any other instructor I've had." -- Michele P.
  • "This was a good course that I've already recommended to family." -- Barbara W.
  • "She is awesome. She helped me a lot. Thank you very much." -- Saritha P.
  • "Nancy you do a great job, thank you." -- Maria P.
  • "Nancy Fillip was an excellent instructor." -- Lorne W.
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