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Watercolour Secrets: The complete step-by-step watercolour instruction course

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MEDIA: 9-disc DVD watercolour course
PRICE: $127
PUBLISHER: www.WatercolourSecrets.com, A subsidiary of PaintBox Art Media Ltd. Company No: 6410698, 13 Scarisbrick New Road, Southport, Merseyside, PR8 6PU, England.

REVIEW: DVDs (Virtual Art Teaching)

Are you a non-artist who wants to learn to paint at your own pace?

The thing about non-artists is that they often turn out to be excellent artists who only needed to know the vocabulary and processes a working artist uses to kick-start them into action. The DVDs included in Bob Davies’ Watercolour Secrets series of lessons cover much of everything a non-artist would need for a “cracking” good shot at becoming an artist.

Advanced students can also find inspiration in this course of lessons as Bob’s soothing voice and sure hand walk you through a solid foundation of familiar methods and concepts, including some that you may have missed along the way.

I’ll run through the DVDs one by one to give you a better idea of the depth of content in this video course.

In DVD one, “Getting Started” you are introduced to all the “stuff” of painting; the palettes, paints, papers, stretching, suggested colors, brushes and their strokes, a monochromatic tutorial, and an introduction to the color wheel and making mixed blacks.

DVD two is a great one that takes you back to artistic basics. “Drawing for Watercolors” teaches you how to break larger tasks down to manageable bites. Simplification. How to systematically get what you see down onto your paper. Bob teaches you how to use basic shapes and simple rules of measure to accurately recreate what you see. Then he throws in perspective, rule of thirds, scaling your image and much more for a well rounded introduction to drawing.

Watercolur Secrets artist Bob Davies teaches a complete watercolor course in the privacy of your own home.
Watercolur Secrets artist Bob Davies teaches a complete watercolor course in the privacy of your own home.

In the third disc, “Skies” Bob shows you how to paint what is usually painted first in landscape painting. In doing so you learn the basic watercolour washes. Using lifting techniques, lost and found edges, and fine wash control Bob creates beautiful cloud effects in skies of varying weather, including moonlit examples.

More ground (ha!) is covered in DVD four, “Mountains, Hills & Rocks” as you are shown how to push things off into the distance in assorted landscapes including an Arizona butte, a snow covered Matterhorn, a misty Mt. Fuji, and a wonderful sunlit valley vista. A variety of textures and tonal issues are covered too.

Things start to green up in DVD five “Trees & Foliage” as you are taught all the basic tree shapes in step-by-step fashion. Through the example paintings you are taught brush techniques and the use of masking and gouache for unique seasonal effects. Distant trees, sheep, grasses, and hedges are also among items covered.

DVD number six, “Water,”; covers all aspects of painting water starting with basic reflections 101 in which I learned a few bits I never knew. Using visual aids and paint you are shown how the reflections work in a wide range of example sessions. Topics include Farm Tractor Puddles, Rocks under Water (nice!), Cascades and Running Water, and Crashing Waves. Some tricks for drawing boats are shown in several nautical themed painting sessions.

In DVD seven we revisit perspective and its importance in drawing accurate “Buildings & Structures”. Using simple rules and simple strokes, believable perspective comes to life in a huge variety of example sessions. A triple simple barn tutorial leads into easy doors and windows examples, roofs, chimneys, buildings on a curve, and all the brick, stone, metal and wood texture examples you might need. The use of shadows and select details are stressed and a full painting glaze is demonstrated successfully on a dry completed painting.

Subtitles explain major lesson points along the way in Watercolur Secrets
Subtitles explain major lesson points along the way in Watercolur Secrets

DVD eight has a whole lot of people in it. In “Figures” you are taught basic proportion and simplification of the figure in landscape settings and properly rendering their light and shadow. Example figure studies include simple poses, people at work, people in action, and people on the beach. Bob spends time teaching proper perspective and the fundamentals of populating a scene with interesting figures, a very well done section.

The bonus DVD (number 9) “Animals and Artifacts” adds to your visual vocabulary by introducing new life forms both domestic and wild. Bob renders zoo-type animals like a lion, bear, giraffe, cheetah, elephant and gazelle; farm animals like sheep, cows, and pigs; and favorites like horses, cats and dogs with ease and stresses the underlying forms unique to each animal shape.

Swans, geese, ducks, and hens are also demoed as live elements to use in your paintings and some time is spent painting birds in flight. The “Artifacts” section wraps up the DVD with lessons on drawing and painting things with wheels. You are walked through lessons on painting a bike, a cart, a baby carriage, and vehicles from a small car to double decker bus with careful emphasis on perspective and lighting.

Watercolour Secrets is a very nicely done course, jam-packed with all sorts of interesting little tid bits and you can’t beat the price for the quantity of quality information this nine-DVD set has to offer. I wholly endorse Bob Davies course of study as a solid introduction to watercolor painting for the “non-artist” artists out there.

It contains all the necessary basic art principles such as drawing, design, composition, color, perspective, light and shadow, etc. interwoven with a complete watercolor course. Intermediate and advanced artists can harvest forgotten information and find inspiration in the way Bob quickly and accurately portrays space and depth in his paintings.

This is a good value product. I give it 5 stars.

FORMAT NOTE: The DVDs in Watercolour Secrets are in the .vob format popular in the UK. The will not play in Windows Media Player (XP). But there is a FREE open source video player that plays .vob and many other video file formats, and it is available for Windows or Mac. Download it free: VLC Media Player. (Works great and has some fun bells and whistles! – GC)

Disclaimer!: I first came across clips of Bob Davies videos while browsing around on the net and was about to add his links when I received an email from his son asking me to review his videos. After an unbiased review I have also become an affiliate of “Watercolor Secrets” and receive commissions from orders placed through this link and others on watercolorpainting.com. (Just thought you should know!)