children's book Maria's Loose Tooth illustrations by Yong Chen

watercolor painting by Allison Lenker, a proud student of Yong Chen

Watercolor painting by
Allison Lenker

Allison Lenker's watercolor learning experience:
The effects that can be achieved, the relaxation I receive from painting, and the lessons I hope to learn from the class are all reasons I am excited to paint more watercolors.

In class we have experimented with different techniques. My favorite effect is using wet into wet to achieve a variegated wash. I find I don't use it enough in other paintings I have done. I really enjoyed the way the colors bleed into one another. This technique was especially helpful in the practice landscape with the tree. The flat wash is the most common and useful wash but my least favorite. This technique will probably used in almost every painting you do. When using a cold press paper I don't enjoy how slow I have to bring my brush across the paper. That is why I sometimes prefer a hot press paper. I don't like the white spots from the texture on the cold or rough press paper from moving too fast. Gradient washes are also very helpful in skyscapes to create a beautiful fading effect from top to bottom. These methods are great to learn to incorporate into my paintings.

The aspect I love most about watercolors and painting as a whole, is the zone I get into when I am really enjoying the painting I'm working on. That calm, focused feeling is a much needed break from my average work day where my attention may be pulled in several directions. I feel I need watercolors in my life to teach me to be more relaxed and "go with the flow" just like the paint. It takes my mind off the stresses of life and lets me have a mini mental vacation.

I am taking this class to focus more on watercolors and develop a more solid grasp on the basic techniques. I hope to eventually have the skills to paint portraits well enough that you can identify the person. I am learning it is a very difficult skill. I also need help with creating convincing skin tones so with the help of the color wheel and experimenting I hope to get a good knowledge of that. With your expertise in that area I known you will have very helpful tips for me.

On Saturday mornings when I was 12-13 years old I would go with my mother to her friend Jimi's house. We would relax, eat pastries, and paint watercolors. They taught me the basics and set up still lives in the winter and we would paint Lake Massapoag and the flowers in her garden in the summer. This is when I first started to appreciate watercolors. I still get the same relaxed feeling when painting in your class except without the pastries. I know that this class will help me so much in finding that peace as well as practice and create beautiful paintings.

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