Instructional videos

Light, Colour, Shadow: The Essential Triad for Watercolour Sketching

Light, colour and shadow are the three essential elements for creating an exciting watercolour sketch. That’s why it’s always a good day for me when the sun is out. Because sunlight gives form, volume and contrast to every object, and makes every scene more vibrant and alive.

In Light, Colour, Shadow: The Essential Triad for Watercolour Sketching, we’ll go through all the steps I use when I’m sketching on location on a sunny day. I’ll start by analyzing some sunlit scenes from my sketchbooks. Then we’ll paint shadow patterns on various wall surfaces. From there we’ll move on to how light and shadow look on three-dimensional urban subjects. And finally we’ll paint a full scene in sun, using some of the techniques we learned in previous exercises to create a sparkling sketch.

I’ll give you the same reference images as I’m using, so you’ll be able to draw and paint right along. I’ll also share my favourite mixes for bright and fresh shadow colours. And when you’re done, you’ll feel confident going out on a sunny day to sketch your own lively scene. 

If you love to sketch in watercolour and want to infuse your scenes with light and colour, this course is for you. In this class you’ll learn:

  • How to use lights and darks effectively to make sunlit scenes come alive
  • How to use shadows to give form to subjects
  • The best colour mixes for subjects in sun and in shade
  • How to mix your own glowing shadow colours rather than using diluted blacks or pre-mixed greys
  • The most effective water-to-pigment ratio for painting shadows

This course includes:

  • Seven full-length video demonstrations that illustrate key concepts
  • Downloadable reference images
  • A full list of materials

Sketching Structure in the Garden

A new online sketching and painting course

I love sketching in gardens. But it’s always more fun when the garden is complex and lively. Maybe just a little bit wild. 

In Sketching Structure in the Garden, we’ll go through all the steps I use when I’m sketching on location, with ink and watercolour. I’ll start by analyzing what makes a composition interesting. We’ll map out the sketch in pencil. Add lively ink lines. And paint on fresh and bright watercolour washes to complete our sketch.

I’ll give you the same reference image as I’m using, so you’ll be able to draw and paint right along. I’ll show you how I mix the brightest colours for flowers. Then I’ll share my favourite mixes for painting trees and shrubs. And give you proven technique for creating luminous greys. When you’re done, you’ll feel confident going out into any garden setting to sketch your own lively scene. 

If you love to sketch in watercolour and want to add more colour and freshness to your work, this course is for you. In this class you’ll learn:

  • How to analyze a scene and create a dynamic composition
  • The best method for painting a wet-in-wet sky
  • Eight tested and proven recipes for more varied foliage colours
  • Colour mixing techniques for brights and neutrals that you can apply to all your sketches
  • How to use darks effectively to make impactful sketches

This course includes:

  • Full-length video demonstrations
  • A downloadable reference image
  • A full list of materials

What people are saying

One of the best online classes I’ve seen. Well organized, clear and articulate. Beautifully done by a terrific teacher and wonderful artist. — WAYNE BISSKY

I just finished watching Shari Blaukopf’s online course, “Sketching Structure in the Garden”. Beautifully broken down and explained, with lots to think about and try, but presented simply so it’s never overwhelming. I particularly loved hearing her talk through her thoughts on Luminous Greys for shadows and Mixing Greens, and I’m inspired to pull out my paints and play with mixes NOW. — SUHITA SHIRODKAR

Great class! I binge-watched it all and have learned lots. It’s the little comments you make that provide helpful hints. Love the way you add a bit to the colour every time you dip back into the paint. It’s an awesome tip. — LEONIE MCLAREN


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I’m also happy to offer two online video classes, “Sketching the City in Pen, Ink and Watercolor” and “Sketching Landscapes in Pen, Ink and Watercolor” on Bluprint.com. These courses are each 2.5 hours long, and in seven lessons we cover all the steps I use when I’m sketching in the field.  “Sketching the City” is all about the things I love to sketch in urban settings: brick and stone facades, windows and doors, light and shadow, as well as all the elements that give a city life, such as pedestrians, foliage, signage and utility poles. In both courses we work in pen and ink and finish our sketches in watercolour. In “Sketching Landscapes” we start with a peek through my sketchbooks (yes, I carried them all to Denver in my suitcase!) and a glance at the materials I use on location. From there we journey to the Flatirons in Boulder at sunrise to work on composition and value sketches. Back in the studio, I go through the step-by-step painting of different types of skies, and then draw and paint the Flatirons scene, along with other common landscape elements such as trees and foregrounds, adding in texture and darks along the way. I hope that breaking it all down into steps will make it easy enough for anyone to try out on your own.

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41 Comments on “Instructional videos”

  1. […] so skipped ahead a bit to complete the foreground. The course is great so far and if you follow the link from her blog post then you can get a discount so I did. I hope to learn about composition and values in landscapes to […]

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  2. Heather says:

    Hi Shari, I’m working through your class on Craftsy and would love for you to explain how many different paintings of the flat irons you did. It looks like there are 2 different paintings above and yet another in the Textures video. It would be great if you can keep a thumbnail of the inspiration photo in view in the video so we can see how you are interpreting and selecting what to paint and what not to paint. I love your work! Thanks for teaching!!

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    • Hi Heather. Thanks for registering for the class. When preparing for the course, I painted the Flatirons several times in different stages. Once with the sky, once with sky and mountains. Once with sky, mountains and foreground, etc. It’s a bit like a cooking show. You have to have the turkey cooked at different stages before you film. As for the final production, that is really up to the editors at Craftsy. They do all the insets, etc. I have asked for the reference photos to be included with the course materials so maybe that will help you. Glad you like the work!
      Shari

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  3. holmar58 says:

    Hi Sheri,
    I just signed up for your Craftsy class, I’m enjoying the class so much. I was born in Montreal and love seeing your wonderful, amazing sketches of my old hometown!

    Like

  4. lridolfi says:

    Hi Shari, I am enjoying the class and wondering if you plan to do one that focuses more on urban sketching. I would love to see how you draw some of the scenes featured in you blog.

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  5. Faith says:

    Hi Shari, I just completed your class on Craftsy. I started sketching 6 months ago – was so surprised to see that I can draw. I’ve done mostly buildings in the small town where I live. We are going on an Alaskan crusie(tomorrow) and I needed and got help from your class. I’ll be practicing all the things you taught in the class as I attempt to journal and sketch the trip. Your class was outstanding. Thanks so much. Looking forward to your next class.

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    • Hi Faith,
      I’m so glad you liked the class and found it useful. I hope you sketch a lot on your cruise and we get to see some work on the Projects area of Craftsy. Have a wonderful time. As for doing another class, I hope to do one too!!
      Best,
      Shari

      Like

  6. Lynn Holbein says:

    I am loving your online class. So many great features, and excellent instruction. I hope there’s an “urban sketching class” in your future! Can’t wait to see you paint buildings in perspective, figures and more. And I love your book “Mostly Montreal,” which arrived two days ago!

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  7. Nadine Acker says:

    Hi Shari,

    I am buying gifts for some refugees. One of them is a 12 year old boy who asked for a ‘sketch book with pictures on one side and a blank page on the other side so he can try to copy the picture, and some pencils & markers.” Do you have any ideas? Your sketches are fantastic, and I would love to buy him your online course, but I’m not positive he has internet access. I want to foster his talent and make his holidays wonderful.

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    • HI Nadine, What a great idea! I think you should just print some sketches (feel free to use some of mine) and bind them yourself in a book with blank pages (and some good paper) on the other side. I bet he would love that. Of course if he has internet access there are so many great courses out there, not just mine, that he might appreciate. Regards,
      Shari

      Like

  8. Nadine Acker says:

    Fantastic! I will do that. He’s going to love it. Thanks so much Shari!
    Nadine

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  9. Martina says:

    Hi Shari, Are these courses independent from each other or would you recommend to do the landscape course first? Thanks! Martina

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  10. AGNES says:

    HELLO SHARI

    I follow your work for a long time and I love very very much your work.
    I would like to know if your instructional videos have English subtitles : I am french, I understand English if I read it, but when a people is speaking, sometimes I don’t understand.
    So before buying your 2 videos, please tell me if there are subtitles ; I didn’t find where to ask it to Crafsty.
    Thanks for your answer, best success for your watercolor paintings.

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  11. Hi Shari, I just discovered your blog after signing up for your landscape class on Craftsy. I found your simplified approach to the value sketches to be very helpful and you blog is wonderful. I will have to try your city class next. I am trying to get back to my regular sketching practice after a few months absence and feel so rusty, especially with the watercolor. My biggest challenges seem to center on simplification, keeping my whites and creating clean washes. Your examples really resonate with me for that reason. Thank you!

    Like

  12. Jacqueline says:

    Hi Shari, I discovered craftsy then your classes then you blog . I love so much the way you teach ! I am French but your English is perfect for me and I don’t miss a thing.
    I did not find the way to post, but it does not matter because I am new in watercolor and these small watercolors are far from perfect. I am going to work a lot on my drawings and follow your blog as much as I can. Thank you for being so talented and sharing your knowledge with us.

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  13. Mayela Lameda-Lyver says:

    Hi Shari,
    I just purchased your Craftsy class “Sketching Landscapes” and look forward to start playing/learning this weekend. I love you r work and would love to attend one of your workshops. Could you please add me to your mailing list?
    Thanks,

    Like

  14. Monica Knowles says:

    Shari, I was interested in taking your on line city sketching course. I was given a link for cyber Monday to use. I seem to remember the cost of the course was reduced to 20.00 odd dollars. The link is not working of me and the course is now 50.00 odd dollars. I was under the impression I could use the link any time. Is there any way around this. Thanks Monica.

    Like

  15. Monica Knowles says:

    Thank you Shari, I just purchased it and am looking forward to doing it over the holidays. Thanks.

    Like

  16. Iris Evans says:

    Thanks for sharing this! I recently graduated college with a BA in Art. I emphasize in painting with watercolor and mixed media. Just seeing your videos inspired me to continue what I’m doing since I got a little sidetracked by going into another profession. If you don’t mind sharing, I’d love to know more about you and your art career. As a college graduate I don’t know what am I doing sometimes and I am in much need of a little push in the right direction 🙂

    Like

  17. arlynab says:

    Hi Shari! I registered for both classes and loving the landscape one! Have to start on the cityscape one soon.

    I wonder if you can have a blogpost or class about painting snow scenes. I’ve been following your blog and captivated by the sketches you’ve done with snow…

    Thank you!

    Like

    • HI. I’m so glad you’re loving the classes. Thanks for letting me know! I will try to do a blogpost about painting snow. We sure have enough of it this winter! Thanks for writing.

      Like

      • mayelalameda says:

        Everybody wants to learn how to make those lovely shadows, Shari. Thank you for keeping me in the loop. I look forward to reading your blogpost. Too bad it will be summer for the USK symposium in Porto, otherwise that would be a popular workshop… ocean waves, maybe?

        Cheers,

        Mayela

        Sent from my iPad

        >

        Like

  18. TucsonTom says:

    I have both of them on Craftsy and would like more from you. Your style is outstanding. Liron Yanconsky did a nice review of your work on youtube.

    Like

  19. Diana Dell says:

    Hi Shari, I’m enrolled in the Craftsy landscape course but have a question. I can’t find any downloadable photos of the landscapes. Are we meant to follow along or use our own photos ?
    Thank you.

    Like

  20. Jane Guest says:

    Shari, I absolutely love your work which I have just discovered.
    Please let me know if any Montreal workshop or plein air classes u r offering this summer or fall winter.
    Thank you
    Jane Guest from Senneville

    Like

    • HI Jane,
      I am adding you to my mailing list. I have your email address from this comment so I will add it and you will receive notifications.
      Regards,
      Shari

      Like

      • Jane Guest says:

        Looking forward to hearing from you re a day workshop in Montreal hopefully soon. I would like to treat myself for my upcoming big birthday!
        Thank you
        Jane

        Like

  21. Liz Lystra says:

    Loved the class and have started following your blog.

    Like

  22. Doris Wood says:

    I signed up for the Garden class but my email and password don’t work! Ready to go on friends’ recommendation. Help!

    Like

    • Hi Doris,

      Thanks for emailing.

      I have had a few other people have this problem. Here are a few suggestions for you to try.

      1. It could be the web browser you are using. If you are using Safari, try switching to Chrome.
      2. Log out of the site and log back in again.
      3. Switch your device. If you are using a computer, and you have an iPad, try that.

      If none of these options work, please let me know and I will contact Customer Service.

      Many thanks for enrolling in the course.

      Like

  23. Chris kopet says:

    Loved the garden class! The benefits of video for me were: the ability to watch a segment in full and then go back and stop the film so I could practice, watch a lesson more than once, take what I learned and apply it to my own photos. I had a great time and anxiously await the next class. Really fun and useful. Thank you

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