Review: Layers of Design in Watercolor with Linda Baker - A Review by Sarah Marie Lacy

Posted April 06 2015

When I was asked to review Linda Baker’s instructional DVD Layers of Design in Watercolor from Creative Catalyst Productions, I would be lying if I said I wasn't a little apprehensive.

Actually, it was more than a little - I was very apprehensive.  I’m actually a little bit scarred when it watercolor DVDs. My father used to dabble in painting, and he would go to the library and rent these fuzzy, Muzak-filled instructional VHS tapes where the artists had about as much personality as a two-by-four, and the paintings were somehow even more boring.  My favorite part was when my father would rewind them and I got to watch them un-paint the painting.

I am also not a fan of watercolor. I can’t stand to use the stuff. I’m far too much of a control freak. (Read: I’m not very good, so I gave up.)

All of this is to say my expectations weren't just low, they were subterranean.  The most I was hoping for was to tolerate it.

So, you ask, just how bad was it?

I was wrong. I was so, so wrong.

I was so excited after watching this DVD that I am seriously considering buying watercolors. I am not even kidding you.  You might want to step back from your computer screen a bit.  I am about to gush, and I don’t want to get it all over you.

Linda Baker’s watercolor painting process is so cool. Until you see it, you won’t totally grasp what I mean. It looks like so much fun! And the painting at the end is beautiful. I had no idea you could even use watercolors in this way.

I’ll try to explain, without giving too much away. She uses an intense layering and masking process, and while her drawings are incredibly structured and detailed, her actual painting process is really free and creative. It’s the best of both worlds.

Honestly, even if you have no intention of ever taking up watercolor, just watching her work is fun. I was ooh-ing and aahh-ing the whole time.

And if you did want to try her techniques, she explains them really well. I really understood what she was doing and how it worked. She goes into a lot of detail about the tools she uses, how she plans a composition and how she picks her subject matter. Then you watch her paint each layer and she explains what she’s doing and why, what she likes and doesn’t like, and shows you how she fixes her mistakes as well.

Even better, at the end she puts her own piece through the critique process and explains how she evaluates her paintings, and how you can evaluate yours too.

To boot, Linda is the opposite of those dried-up instructors of my past.  She’s got enough personality for 2 other people, as well as a sense of humor. She doesn’t take herself too seriously, but she takes her craft very seriously. Her passion is palpable as she talks about the process.

And there’s a brilliant bonus as well, an interview with Linda, in which she proves herself to be just as fascinating as her painting process. She talks about her journey to becoming an artist and how she created success for herself and offers tips for getting started on your own art career. It was inspiring and really motivating. I think that it was my favorite part, because it was such an unexpected addition. I really liked that extra touch.

All in all, I have absolutely nothing bad to say about this DVD. Not one thing. I feel like I should, but I just can’t think of anything. I could make something up, if you’d like. Or I could get nitpicky, and say that, in the final editing stage, I got kind of bored watching her make her changes. I slightly lost interest but only compared to how fascinated I was earlier.

I also have to congratulate the Powers family on these DVDs (they’re the people behind Creative Catalyst Productions). They’ve really broken the mold. These are art instruction DVDs with a sense of humor. They play bloopers during the credits. I also recommend reading the credits - hilarious. Trust me. I chuckled out loud.

If you’re interested in trying a new technique, or looking to experiment with your watercolors, this DVD will not disappoint.

Click here to order your copy of Linda Baker’s Layers of Design in Watercolor DVD.