White on the roads, white on the canvas with watercolor

Published 8:08 am Thursday, February 7, 2019

Children often get to paint pictures using plastic trays of paint that only require water in order to function. While this is often a person’s first experience with watercolor art, the Watauga Valley Art League will continue its efforts to teach adults of Carter County the ins and outs of the trade.

Barbara Jernigan said her next class will instruct her students on painting a wintery portrait.

“This is an opportunity to teach students how to use different techniques with watercolors, including how to create objects and how to save your whites,” Jernigan said.

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By “saving your whites,” she refers to the unique way in which watercolor artists handle white images. Unlike traditional paints, there is no white in watercolor; it is simply white space where the paint does not go. This can pose a problem with watercolor, as water can spray, splatter or bleed into areas the artist does not want if they are not careful.

“Water media has many different techniques to create a variety of techniques, while other methods such as traditional paint do not have as many methods of getting the medium onto the page,” she said.

One of the ways artists achieve these different techniques is to avoid using traditional brushes entirely, though she said she would not disclose the specific details.

“You will have to find out by attending the class,” Jernigan.

Jernigan has been teaching art classes for almost a decade and has held them all over East Tennessee, including the Elizabethton Senior Center, Sycamore Shoals State Park and Johnson City.

“I stopped doing art a while back, and I got back into it in the ’80s,” Jernigan said. “A lot of the techniques and technology people use in their watercolors did not exist back then.”

Among one of the challenges she tries to tackle in her classes is how much water to use, both on the brush and the page.

“It is one of the hardest mediums to paint in,” Jernigan said.

The class itself will take place at Sycamore Shoals State Park between 9 a.m. and noon. The class costs $12 if the person brings their own supplies and $20 if they do not. She said the class does not require registration beforehand.

“I will be hosting a workshop for more experienced watercolor painters sometime next week,” Jernigan said.

She also said she is currently planning another workshop in April, but she does not have a definitive day or time for it just yet.