"Introduction to Watercolor Painting" w/ Joe Mac Kechnie

DATE/TIME: Sat & Sun Oct. 18 &19 10:30am - 5:30pm

FEE: $195

REGISTER:  Call in, come in, or register online.  Scroll to the bottom of this page for online registration.  425.697.2787

LOCATION:  Cole Art Studio located on the lower level of Cole Gallery.  107 5th Ave. S., Edmonds 98020

Watercolor is one of the oldest and most revered painting mediums since man first picked up a brush.  Used by the ancient Egyptians, mastered by Chinese and Japanese artists and later advanced by European and American artists, watercolor remains one of the most challenging mediums to learn.  While it has been said that watercolor has a mind of its own, it has also been said that it seems to have magical qualities not matched by other painting mediums. In this 2-day workshop, artist Joe Mac Kechnie will show you how to use watercolors and how to control watercolor’s quirky properties to produce quality paintings.

This workshop is open to all levels – beginners will learn the basics while more experienced students will be able to fill in the gaps and review the basics – and everyone will go home with at least one finished painting of their own! Although some drawing experience will be helpful it is not mandatory, since Joe will be covering some basic drawing skills on the first day.  This workshop will be intensive and also really rewarding, and you’ll be painting on your own by the second day!  Come rested and ready to dive in to this great medium.


You can pick up all your great art supplies at ARTspot in Edmonds just blocks from Cole Gallery. Registered Cole Art Studio students will receive a 10% discount on all their art supplies.  Make sure to pick up your 10% off slip at Cole Gallery's front desk.
Artspot's Web Site

You have probably heard it many times before; don’t scrimp on the quality of your art materials.  If you haven’t yet painted that masterpiece, you soon will.  If it was done with inexpensive materials, it will be noticed.  Also, using inexpensive materials may lead you to believe you can never produce an art piece that looks like the pros.  Becoming discouraged is less likely when you do not have to overcome poor-quality materials. Also, exchange ideas with fellow artists.  Find an artist whose style you would like to emulate. Ask what equipment they use and why. What is their philosophy and approach to painting? This may influence what equipment you want to use.

 The following list will give you a good start on your watercolor supplies. If you can, purchase the entire list. *The bare essentials are marked with an asterisk.


Drawing Materials

The underlying principle to any great artwork is the artist’s ability to draw.  As part of this series of watercolor classes, time will be spent on improving your drawing skills.  Good drawing materials and techniques will elevate your artwork.  Here are a few drawing materials I use:

  • *#5B or 6B drawing pencils
  • *Kneaded eraser
  • *Light blue Pitt pastel pencil by Fiber-Castell or by other manufacturers


Anything flat will work for a palette.  A white dish, butcher's tray or cookie sheet will do the job, but a traditional covered palette is best. It will have separate wells or reservoirs to hold individual colors. This helps keep colors from becoming contaminated by adjacent colors when the palette is sealed, and the cover keeps the pigments moist. The John Pike, Robert E. Woods or Frank Webb palettes are good examples.  For Plein Air and live figure/portrait painting, I use the Masters plastic folding palette (used by Charles Reid).  (I use the Masters Plastic folding palette and the John Pike palette)


I like to use flats for washes and rounds for detail work. I can cover large areas quickly and with more control when using flats. Good brushes hold their shape and can carry a lot of wet pigment. I use both sable and synthetic brushes. The synthetics work for me and cost much less. The brushes I use are:

 Flats   (Synthetic brushes are fine)

  • 2-inch
  • *1-inch
  • *1/2-inch
  • *1/4-inch

Rounds (Synthetic brushes are fine)

  • Nos. *2, 4, *6, 8 and *10 rounds (the 2, 6, and 10 are the bare essentials)

Specialty Brushes (Synthetic brushes are fine)

  • *Dagger (medium)
  • 1.5-inch or 1-inch Hake
  • Sumi all purpose brush, #3
  • *Rigger brush
  • #4 fan brush (optional)
  • *Small stiff bristle scrub brush
  • *Old tooth brush (Save your old used brushes, they are good for applying Frisket and other uses) 

There are many good manufacturers of brushes.  Robert Simmons, Winsor & Newton, DaVinci and Grumbacher produce quality brushes. I use Kolinsky sables for my natural brushes. The Fritch scrub brushes work well for lifting, but oil bristle brushes can be used for the same purpose.

Paper comes in three textures: hot-pressed, which is very smooth; cold-pressed, which is lightly textured; and rough, which is heavily textured. Choice depends on style, subject and technique. Cold-pressed paper is good to start with. Paper also comes in various weights. I most often use 140-lb. A standard-size sheet of watercolor paper in the United States is 32" x 40". It is strong, durable and can withstand rough painting techniques. We will be using Arches 140-lb. cold-pressed paper, which you can purchase at ARTSpot, but if you have another preference bring it along. Paper stretching should also be mentioned. It is a process of soaking the paper and attaching it to your drawing board using staples, tape and/or clamps. The soaked paper expands, and as it dries, it will shrink back to its original size, leaving a very flat surface.  Watercolor blocks are ok too; at least 14”x20” size.  Arches has a 140# cold-press block in this size.  ARTspot carries 22” x 30”, and this is fine.

Paints come in numerous brands. Start with the best. Use professional-quality paints and you will have fewer problems. I use Winsor & Newton, Daniel Smith, Holbein and Daler-Brown. The colors I keep on my palette tend to be mostly transparent and non-staining. They are:


  • *Alizarin Crimson Permanent – Winsor Newton or Daniel Smith
  • Permanent Rose – Winsor Newton or Quin. Rose – Daniel Smith
  • *Winsor Red – Winsor Newton or Pyrrol Red – Daniel Smith
  • *Cadmium Red Pale or Light – Winsor Newton or M. Graham


  • Cobalt Teal – Daniel Smith
  • *Pthalo Blue– Winsor Newton or Daniel Smith
  • *French Ultramarine – Winsor Newton or Daniel Smith


  • *Aureolin – Winsor Newton, Daniel Smith or M. Graham
  • New Gamboge – Daniel Smith
  • Quinacridone Gold – Winsor Newton or Daniel Smith
  • Raw Sienna – Winsor Newton or Daniel Smith
  • *Yellow Ochre – Winsor Newton or Daniel Smith
  • *Cadmium Yellow Light or Pale – Winsor Newton or M. Graham


  • Sepia – Winsor Newton, Daniel Smith or M. Graham
  • *Ivory Black – Winsor Newton, Daniel Smith or M. Graham
  • *Burnt Sienna – Winsor Newton, Daniel Smith or M. Graham
  • Hematite – Daniel Smith
  • Titanium White – Winsor Newton or Daniel Smith


  • *Sap Green – Daniel Smith
  • *Permanent Green – Holbein or Daniel Smith
  • Viridian Green – Daniel Smith 

Note: I use tube colors and keep the palette reservoirs filled.

Other Stuff

I keep a lot of odds and ends available when I paint, things I might need for convenience or to create a texture. For example:

  • Salt and rubbing alcohol for texture (optional)
  • Sponges
  • *Paper towels and soft tissues
  • *Painter's masking tape
  • *Two large water containers; one to wash the brush and one to rinse
  • Old style architect adjustable ink pen (to apply Frisket) (optional)
  • Liquid Frisket
  • Small pocket knife or palette knife
  • Medium size water spray bottle
  • *Several small water spray bottles
  • Hair dryer
  • *½-inch foam board large enough to mount ½ sheet watercolor paper (20”x24”)
  • Small 2” inch mixing dishes for mixing and pouring watercolor
  • Small desktop easel (optional)
  • Precut white mats of various sizes