Workshop D: Exploration in Expressive Watercolor through Shape and Value

Instructor: Gail Wong (USA)

Location: Seah St.

Homework ID district

Workshop description

I find that the act of painting itself can be an incredibly freeing and meditative experience…not worrying about the outcome but getting into the zone in the process of painting. For that reason, I am personally exploring a less literal representation of space to a more expressive and abstract representation. This workshop will explore the use of watercolor as a medium and how working directly in watercolor can generate an expressive interpretation of the urban form. By distilling what you see to simple shapes and values, and allowing the fluid quality of watercolor to be revealed, you can open yourself up to a more expressive and abstract approach. This workshop is intended to give you the opportunity to loosen up and see what you can do with this wonderful medium.


Workshop schedule

Exploration in Watercolor: 1 hr We will start with looking at artist examples of using watercolor in a more expressive and abstract way and talking about approaches to doing watercolor. Then I will demonstrate the different ways watercolor works and interacts with the wetness of the paper. We will spend a little time exploring the medium to see what it will do, how to create soft and hard edges, charging and mixing colors, getting values, seeing the beauty in simplifying your strokes.

Shapes and Values, Soft and Hard edges: 3/4 hr We will use our setting of Seah St. to look for major planar shapes and values in a scene. Starting with a simple value study using only watercolor and a brush, the participants will find the essential shapes necessary to define what we see. We will talk about how much information is really necessary and what information you could exclude. We will be working from loose soft washes to final hard edge forms bringing the sketch into focus.

Abstracting Form: 1/2 Hr We will look at how we can abstract the view with gesture, stroke and pattern. Can we get to the essence of a scene with a simple stroke? Let’s explore how simplifying form and composition can create a more abstract and suggestive sketch. The key is to stay loose and be willing to having fun without fear….experiment and let the medium express itself.

Seah Street as our jumping off point for expressive watercolor: 1Hr The last hour will be your opportunity to play with these ideas. You will use Seah Street and the environs as your inspiration. You will apply what you have learned to the urban setting of Seah Street. Paint the historic shops area or the Raffles hotel.

Create your own abstract expressive watercolor Gallery and Group Picture 1/4 hour

Homework soft and hard edges

Learning goals



“To live a creative life, we must lose our fear of being wrong.” -Joseph Chilton Pearce