Watercolor: Lori Simons' Tips for Painting Watercolor Still Lifes

11 Apr 2007

0704simo1_463x600_2Lori Simons explained her techniques for painting watercolor still lifes.

by Lori Simons

Velvet Red Bouquet
2005, watercolor, 18 x 14.
Collection Kent and Meg Ulery.
  • Never be in a hurry when watercolor painting. Make sure you have ample time to complete the amount of painting you have in mind. Try to paint when you are most alert and awake. If you lose concentration, it’s time to take a break or quit for the day.
  • Be realistic about what you can handle. Deal with one petal at a time if you must.
  • Letting your brush move without a plan can lead to problems.
  • Let some edges be lost.
  • Scrubbing out paint is a risky technique. Once the nap of the paper is damaged and the sizing removed, sharp edges are impossible to paint, and the paper looks dull.
  • When painting objects behind glass and in water, don’t worry about what they are or if the shapes make sense. Just paint the abstract shapes, edges, and highlights as you see them. However, limit the number of highlights; they can be distracting.
2006, watercolor, 12 x 9.
Collection Frank and Linda Stuckey.
  • Viridian, Thalo green, cadmium red, and Winsor red: These colors tend to bleed when worked over with a second glaze. Try to save them for the last glaze. For example, if you paint the background around a warm red rose, the red is likely to bleed into the background.
  • Kolinsky sable round brushes with sharp points offer the most control because they not only hold a lot of water and pigment but they also release the water in a steady stream. For very small areas, it’s not necessary to use a kolinsky brush. Just use a very small sable or synthetic with a good sharp point.


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Deb wrote
on 12 Apr 2007 1:47 PM
Lori Rocks! I was lucky enough to take a class with Lori in Arizona winter of 06 and it was a life-changing workshop. Lori is an excellent teacher and explains things (and rescues me) that are complicated. And she's peaceful to hang out with too. Congrats Lori - you deserve every bit of acknowledgement you get.
Lori Simons wrote
on 12 Apr 2007 2:16 PM
Thanks Deb for the kind comments. I was thrilled with the painting you did at the workshop. By the way, Deb went on to win awards for her watercolors!
Kathy Reyes wrote
on 13 Apr 2007 11:41 AM
Lori you deserve all the praise because you are the best. We were lucky to have you come and teach at our facility in Tubac, AZ. I know that you were hesitant about teaching again but as you can see your students loved you and I loved your work and teaching methods. You have helped me continue with my watercolors. I never learned so much about the materials and how to handle them as I did in your class.
Bill Lrch wrote
on 13 Apr 2007 9:20 PM
the painting Carousel is nice however the word htat comes to my mind out of the blue is it appears "Mechicianl" Bill
Lori Simons wrote
on 18 Apr 2007 11:21 AM
Dear Bill, Thanks for your comment. I am not surprised that the word mechanical came to your mind. For the painting "Carousel", I employed an unusual and somewhat risky composition. You see, all the objects circle around a pivot point. In fact, all the objects are circular as well... thus the name "Carousel". It looks like it could spin... however, it is a still life, so it remains still. Lori