The Best Instructor I've Ever Had

When I met a woman who told me about the best watercolor painting instructor she'd ever had, I had to know more. There are so many artists out there whose work is compelling but that doesn't always make them good teachers. I had to know what put her instructor heads and shoulders above the rest.

Claudia's Daughter by Stephen Scott Young, watercolor painting with pastel, 28 1/2 x 22.
Claudia's Daughter by Stephen Scott Young,
watercolor painting with pastel, 28 1/2 x 22.

The instructor my friend was referring to happened to be watercolor artist Stephen Scott Young, whose paintings have attracted collectors and aspirant artists alike. As we chatted about her experience, we started to compile a list of traits that make a great instructor. The first trait: the instructor's work has to not only be technically sound but it also has to move you. You can't learn from someone who doesn't believe in their art but it's even more difficult if you don't believe in their art–at the very least, you need to be interested enough to want to learn more about it.

We also agreed that the way an instructor teaches how to paint watercolor makes a big difference. Although he rarely conducts workshops, Young paints just as if he were in his studio alone. That intimacy and trueness of practice allows those observing learn a lot just by watching him.

And most of all, a great instructor–watercolorist, oil painter, draftsman, whatever–shares what they know. This is the crux of finding great art instruction. You want someone who doesn't hold back and answers questions as well as offers assessments openly and thoughtfully.

Study for Allamanda Lane by Stephen Scott Young, watercolor painting sketch.
Study for Allamanda Lane by Stephen Scott Young,
watercolor painting sketch.

I make no secret that I came to understanding watercolor painting a little late in the game, which is why I really wanted to know what kind of watercolor artist to look for when I get up the courage to attend a workshop. But until then I have the special issue publication, Best of Watercolor, which has been just that to me. It contains the finest watercolor artists and interesting, informative watercolor lessons that illuminate the medium.

What's so great about the magazine is that I know I can trust the instruction and the watercolor lessons it contains because it features today's leading artists. Best of Watercolor is an exceptional source because it has all that in one place! And right now we are having a 50% off sale on many of our magazine issues and download collections, so give them a look to find your best instruction! Enjoy!

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Courtney Jordan

About Courtney Jordan

  Courtney is the editor of Artist Daily. For her, art is one of life’s essentials and a career mainstay. She’s pursued academic studies of the Old Masters of Spain and Italy as well as museum curatorial experience, writing and reporting on arts and culture as a magazine staffer, and acquiring and editing architecture and cultural history books. She hopes to recommit herself to more studio time, too, working in mixed media.   

One thought on “The Best Instructor I've Ever Had

  1. Stephen Scott is one of my favourite artists. His love and passion flow through his paintings which is above just knowing technique.
    So that being said I don’t wholly agree with the idea that a person need be a technically sound artist to be a good teacher. In reality the best teacher teaches one how to “see” then helps the student along by recognizing the students ability and style and helps foster that individuality of style. My husband and I both notice that sometimes a technically sound instructor only knows how to make mini-me’s out of their students.
    Also there are so many learning styles, some learn better with show and tell, others by jumping right in and painting along with, and others by working on their own with someone to point out ideas and alternatives.