Home / Classes / Arts & Crafts, Arts / WATERCOLOR ESSENTIALS (**NEW**)
(Class limited to 12 students)

(Class limited to 12 students)

Instructor: Rafael DeSoto Jr., desotostudio@gmail.com, www.rafaeldesotojr.com
Duration: 4 wks
Date range: April 4 to April 25
Date(s) of the week: Tuesday
Hour: 6:30–9:30 p.m.
Quarter: Spring 2023
Prerequisite: None
Address: Palo Alto HS Rm 106
Price: $111
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Each lesson builds on the previous one for students to accumulate enough knowledge to work on their own. Demonstrations and hand-on practice will accompany lectures. Notes will be handed out at each class along with practice assignments.

April 4 – Getting Started

  • Materials and setting up
  • Wash and brush handling techniques
  • Blending using tints and opaque paint
  • Practice making quick abstracts

April 11 – Composition & Values

  • Design principals for painting
  • Why values are so important
  • Combining composition and tones
  • Practice making a painting in 3 tones

April 18 – Color Connections

  • Making a color chart
  • Combining color with tones
  • Color temperature and emotion
  • Practice painting a flower in color

April 25 – See Simply & Paint Boldly

  • Eye to mind training for simplicity
  • How to interpret photo reference
  • Tips for overcoming fear mistakes
  • Practice painting a landscape

Click here to see instructor images below.

(For printable materials list, click here.)



One of the most important things you should have for painting watercolors is good quality
paper. One way to make sure the paper is of good quality is if it says 100% Cotton and 100%
Acid Free. Brands like Arches, Hahnemuhel, Fabrino, Fluid, Saunders, Windsor & Newton are
excellent. We will be using Cold Press for this class. Paper weight should be 140lb./300gm.
Paper comes in pads, blocks or large single sheets. Pads have one side that is glued, blocks
are glued on all 4 sides. The minimum size to bring is 9” x 12”, the maximum is 12” x 16”. If
you are bringing a pad or cutting sheets you will need a stiff board to tape your paper to.
Cardboard is fine, FoamCore is better, GatorFoam is best (but expensive). MDF board or
Masonite are also fine but weigh more.
Recommend: 9” x 12” Arches Watercolor Pad (12 sheets) Gran Fin, Cold Pressed, 140lbs.


Watercolor paint can vary between manufacturers. Manufacturers like Windsor & Newton,
Holbein, Daniel Smith, M. Graham, Sennelier and PWC are best. 5ml tubes will be less
expensive than 15 ml tubes, but not all companies make the smaller tubes. Paint also comes in
“pans” or cakes, but it will be difficult to match the colors listed below in pans.
Colors needed for this class are…
Cadmium Yellow, Naples Yellow, Cadmium Red, Alizarin Crimson, Cerulean Blue, Prussian
Blue, Yellow Ocher, Burnt Sienna, Burnt Umber, Hookers Green, Payne’s Gray, Neutral Tint,
Titanium White.


It’s important to have a mixing palette with individual wells. It doesn’t have to be big, but you
will need a larger mixing area. Some inexpensive palettes can be found on Amazon. Look for
an airtight watercolor portable palette with 18 wells and 2 mixing areas, about 5” x 10.5” for
about $10. If you find a palette without a mixing area bring along a small white porcelain plate


One can easily spend a fortune on brushes but it isn’t necessary. You really only need about 3
or 4 in this class. Brushes come in 4 basic shapes; flat, round, oval (mop) and filbert. Synthetic
brushes are much less expensive than natural hair and will last longer. I enjoy using flat brushes
with a longer hair size that holds more paint. If possible, try and get one large 2” flat or oval
brush for big washes in addition to the list below.
Recommended: Princeton Gold Synth Brush Set, #4 round, #8 round, 1/2” flat, 1” flat.


A couple of pencils from 2H to 2B, nothing harder or softer. Bring a gum (kneaded) eraser.
Don’t bring pink erasers as they can score the paper and leave crumbs. A roll of 1/2 inch
“Artist’s Tape” (acid-free) or masking tape. Also bring some plain sheets of paper to sketch on
or a small drawing pad. You will need a case to carry all your supplies.
Water containers and paper towels will be supplied. Reference photos will also be supplied.

Please email Rafael at desotostudio@gmail.com with any questions.

By Rafael DeSoto, Jr.:

Click each image below to enlarge.

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