Online Watercolor Courses

Posted October 24 2017

Creative Catalyst has always been interested in how art can be taught and learned using new technologies.  Today we talk with artist, Birgit O'Connor who is pioneering ways to teach watercolor online.  Contact us at info@ccpvideos.com if you are teaching art using online techniques.

Interview with Birgit O’Connor

Birgit, why did you decide to teaching online watercolor courses?

When I first started painting, I had no access to workshops and at that time we were very limited to what was available. There were some books, but most showed finished paintings, and often times, the how you got there part was missing. When DVD’s and streaming video, came along, instruction became so much more accessible to everyone.

The reason I decided to start teaching online courses is I wanted to be home more for my family and have the ability to reach out to people that may not be able to travel to a workshop. I thought of the students that may have physical or personal imitations but still wanted to paint, everyone is so busy, the time commitment and expense of a week-long workshop isn’t always workable for everyone. It can be expensive to travel and I love the idea of bringing a community of watercolor artists together and offering them almost the same workshop experience.

 

What obstacles did you encounter and how did you overcome these?

At first, I thought doing books and DVD’s would be enough, but the beauty of doing an online course is that I am able to provide downloadable reference photos, line drawings, students can ask questions, and if they want they can participate in live meetings.

Creating an online course can be really time consuming.  After you create your lesson plan, you have to figure out how to make it user friendly, then imagine a student that might not have any computer experience, and how to make them feel supported as they navigate through the course.

Then for the teacher must try to figure out how to translate the lessons so they show correctly on mobile devices and are downloadable, even offline.

So why do you do it?

The answer is: I love it, and enjoy figuring it out and sharing my knowledge of painting with others.

Teaching online classes is not for everyone. Who should try it and who shouldn’t?

I actually think everyone should give it a try, it allows students to interact with the instructor and participate in a group if they want, or not. They can go at their own pace, have access to more content then they can in a DVD or streamed video. Students can submit the painting lessons, and have them reviewed so they can have a better understanding of what they are doing and how to get the results they were looking for.

For instance, many times, I am able to tell them about the amount of water that they are using in the pigment blend, surface drying time, the materials they are using, or the amount of pressure that they apply to the brush, etc. All of which you can’t get from a DVD or streaming video.  But you can with an online course which can be interactive.

Does it take too much time away from your making art?

It does and doesn’t. It's probably not that much different than my regular traveling schedule, but just like anything else, the set up and creating new content always takes time.  I look forward to the potential of being in the studio more and having the ability of creating even a master class in the future.

What do you see as the future of online teaching?

Delivery of instruction is ever changing and always evolving, I think we are on the cutting edge and in the future the potential of the online courses will only get better, even for those without great internet connections. Lessons are downloadable and can play anywhere. What I find the most rewarding is to show a student that thinks they are the only one with challenges that they are not alone and we all learn from each other.

If someone were to want to try online learning what recommendations would you give them before they begin?

For students it’s easy, there is a 30-day guarantee give it a try and see what you think. I would also highly suggest you use either Chrome or Firefox as your browser, even Mac users.

Take a look at the curriculum and for some interactive courses that have scheduled running dates, not all of the lessons may open at first glance, so then look at the reviews. I don’t think you will be disappointed.  In fact I think you will be pleasantly surprised.

 


What Students Say About Birgit O'Connor Online Watercolor Classes


Atmospheric Landscapes Class

Thanks, Birgit! This is the BEST class EVER! I'm So Excited. Fanna


Birgit.....I have been exploring watercoloring for several years, the outstanding benefit of your web course is the individual attention and suggestions you provide for achieving the intended goal. I can't thank you enough for this learning experience! I feel like I have hit the jackpot with this on-line course! .....Thank you Agnes


 LOVED this course, and learned so much ! Great instructor ! Loved her method of providing feedback ... it was almost like sitting with her and having the conversation!

This is the second course I have taken from Birgit. She is consistently excellent with her teaching methods, interesting and beautiful subject matter and presenting critiques in a nurturing and most helpful manner. I have learned so much and will be very happy to be a student in any class she may offer. Thank you, Trish K.


Hi Birgit, I followed several Youtube Videos by you. I love the amazing ways you use water to create feeling and emotion in this medium of watercolor. The magic I get by following your techniques in the courses are so much fun and it touches my heart. Dianne


Hello Birgit, Thank you for the pics and links, but most of all for the excellent workshop! I appreciated your patience, graciousness and willingness to share so much with us. Wow.... my brain feels like my memory stick is full and I need to process all the new information. Regards, Susan S.


 Hi Birgit, I started the landscape course, Amazing! Susan K.


Hi Birgit, I've only watched 5 minutes of your course and have learned not to work so hard on those clouds. I'm in heaven....it is awesome, cannot wait to be able to watch and paint through out the rest. Thank you, you are the best teacher/demonstrator. You have found your calling!! hugs, Penny


Dear Birgit, your courses are so down to earth and easy to understand, I think that even I, as a beginner, will be able to learn and do with practice. Elma K.


This has been a surprising challenge and has taken me out of my comfort zone, so much more to learn. H


Thanks so much, Birgit! I'm so pleased I'm on the right track. I've been very determined to learn how to be more intentional with wet in wet skies, and with this course and your encouragement I feel like I'm really making progress. Judy N.

 

Shadows & Backgrounds Class

Hi Birgit, I really like watching you paint… Your courses are amazing! Cheryl F. Canada


Thank you Birgit..... I am much encouraged. I have all the right equipment and am learning a lot. IT IS INCREDIBLE to be able to get advice from an accomplished artist. I shall persevere! Pat


            Hi Birgit Your courses are 100 percent effective. Thanks, Fay


Hi Birgit... I'm thrilled with your extensive comments. :-) I'm really enjoying the course and to have such a valuable critique is such a wonderful addition to this course. Its as good, or possibly even better than being in a class with you. Feel like I'm on the right track with the right tutor to help me. Kind regards from Jude. :-)

 

 

Bold Rich Saturated Color Class

Hi Birgit I never enjoyed an on line class like this before, Thank you :) Janet D., Visalia, California.


Hi Birgit... I'm thrilled with your extensive comments. :-) I'm really enjoying the course and to have such a valuable critique is such a wonderful addition to this course. Its as good, or possibly even better than being in a class with you. Feel like I'm on the right track with the right tutor to help me. Kind regards from Jude. :-)


Hi Birgit, I really like watching you paint… Your courses are amazing! Cheryl F. Canada


"G'day" Birgit and class, this inland Aussie is keen and ready to learn how to make watercolours glow more, with colour saturation and hopefully luminosity, with help from Birgit's generous teaching techniques. Michael D. Australia


Birgit, I’m really enjoying my interactive course on Bold, Rich, Saturated Color. I’m learning a lot and really like the self-paced format, your brushes are making a huge difference in getting much more even washes. Sally


Hi Birgit, Thanks for this excellent course! Thank you, Arlo


Thank you Birgit..... I am much encouraged. I have all the right equipment and am learning a lot. IT IS INCREDIBLE to be able to get advice from an accomplished artist. I shall persevere! Pat


Hi Birgit, you have really made me feel like I may be a painter. peace to you Donna

 

 

White Flowers Class

WOW!!! You are such a real professional!!! I love how you are instructing...quiet, confident voice, SAYING exactly what you are doing and why, SHOWING exactly what you are doing and why, USING the reference photo as a guide and REFERRING to the practice sample as a reminder that "you can do it"!! And then GIVING the students time to put into practice what you've just taught with your comments and suggestions ready to help! WOW! Not only a first class instructor, but an excellent and beautiful artist. I LOVE YOUR WORK! Cheryl F.


I can't tell you how much I enjoy your courses, Birgit, you are a very generous and skilled teacher. Linda R.


Birgit! You are amazing master of painting enriching our minds, hearts and imagination with your art. Thank you, Zlatica S.


Birgit is an excellent instructor who is organized, informative and thorough in her presentations. Also she is very supportive and helpful in her comments on the painting submissions. I felt strongly that she really wanted me to learn and improve and produce a painting that would make me feel that I had achieved a result that would be worthwhile. I would take another class from her in a heartbeat. Sincerely, Trish K.


Having recently semi-retired from a long career working with law firms as a knowledge management and technology consultant and as a Chief Information Officer, I decided to treat myself to time to get back to the painting I studied as an art history and theater major 40 years ago in college. I always loved watercolors and although people keep telling me it's the hardest place to start, I have persevered, taking a few workshops with local art teachers and playing on my own. I have done a number of Birgit's courses and love this on-line, virtual format that allows me to move at my own pace. I really value the personal critiques, which are so insightful and supportive of growth, and find I learn a great deal from those given to others as well as to myself. I'm looking forward to finding time over the holidays to continue my explorations through this course! Sally G.


Dear Birgit, I've watched a lot of videos over the last year and yours are by far the BEST!!!! Your presentation is clear, very informative, and beautiful. Carol J.


Hi Birgit, I so enjoyed your workshop I learned so much. I am still absorbing it all. I had painting dreams all night. I feel hopeful that I can work on my painting and improve its appearance! (Smile). Jan D.


Dear Birgit, Thank you so much for creating such a wonderful resource. I know it is going to be invaluable to me. Karen M.S.


I wanted you to know that I really appreciate your calm teaching voice. It was one of the main reasons I chose your class. You speak very thoughtfully, slowly, and clearly. While watching the videos, I picked up a lot of helpful instruction, before of working on the actual painting. Using the sweeping upstroke to avoid spreading at the end of the stroke, and softening the edges of lines with a larger brush both worked beautifully, much improving my first attempts! I'll be starting to paint the poppy tomorrow – so excited! Thanks in advance, Laurie


Hi Birgit. Wow!!!Looks great!!!You are tireless!!!! I love the video courses. Thank you for sharing your expertise with the rest of us. Mary L.


Dear Birgit you are my all time favorite artist and I have purchased your some of your courses as well as a copy of the watercolor magic magazine you are featured in. H. M.,  AUSTRALIA

 

Rocks Sand Sea Glass Class

I can't tell you how much I enjoy your courses, Birgit, you are a very generous and skilled teacher. LInda R.


Birgit! You are amazing master of painting enriching our minds, hearts and imagination with your art. Thank you, Zlatica S.


Dear Birgit, I recently purchased your Rocks, Sand and Sea Glass course. It was an absolutely fun and educating program and I have enjoyed watching it several times over the past months. I have also developed a few paintings from your ideas and have been extremely pleased with the results. Thanks so much for your insight. You have a wonderful way of teaching and making the concepts easy to follow. I always keep a "rock/sand" picture running in the studio, working on shells and other additions to make the painting look more interesting. It is a lot of fun. Bob F.


Hi Birgit I am a retired art, elementary, and Montessori teacher with over 30 years experience. I am loving retirement! I have been learning watercolor, a media I haven't done much in my artistic career. I learned some basics from a class I took from a local botanical artist, but I think I've learned the most from Birgit's DVD's and online classes. I love the feedback she gives, it's way more than I have received before. I find it so valuable. I've done a few paintings based on her Rocks and Sea Glass DVD, I even got inspired to do a few shell paintings. I look forward to doing more. I live near many beaches and try to get out at least a few days a week on my walks. I'm already taking photos for inspiration for this class. Jann C.