Watercolors in the Wild: Materials, Methods & Magic




Painting with watercolors in wild places can generate powerful alchemies for revealing nature’s beauty and complexity. It can also be overwhelming. This course will provide clear in-depth instruction on the technologies and magical properties of watercolors and gouache, and how to use this knowledge to paint outdoors with ease and confidence. Sequential studies, inspired by early summer flora, will demystify the watercolor process. Guided experiments will deepen your creative ways. We’ll cover fundamentals such as paper choices and prep; types of paints, brushes, & supports; proper care of materials; effects of gum Arabic and ox gall; wet into wet & glazing techniques; painting in layers; plus binding, framing, & other finishing options for your work. We’ll also consider the internal and external aspects of wildness, what wilderness looks and feels like to us, why we value wildness, and how our creative work has the power to connect us deeply to what is wild within, to the wilds surrounding us, to each other, and why this matters. You’ll create a unique collection of paintings, that will be sequenced and assembled within a beautiful hand-made folio, providing future reference and inspiration to empower your painting vision!

Date of Period




June 2 - 7, 2019

$450 Workshop Andie Thrams


Andie Thrams is a Sierra Nevada-based visual artist. A lifelong devotion to creative work in wilderness habitats, especially within the pages of her field journals, has evolved into artist’s books and paintings held in numerous private and public collections throughout the United States. Her work is widely exhibited and has been honored by institutions including Sitka Center for Art & Ecology and Yosemite Renaissance. She earned a BA in art practice from the University of California at Berkeley and she regularly teaches outdoor art workshops. Learn more through her website: www.andiethrams.com  Andie may be contacted @ andie@andiethrams.com


Please plan to arrive at the Sierra Nevada Field Campus early enough Sunday afternoon to allow yourself plenty of time to settle into your campsite. Dinner will be served each night at 6:00 p.m. Our group will meet informally Sunday night during and immediately after dinner for orientation, Q&A, and materials & supplies discussion. Please bring all your supplies for our first class, which will begin at 9:00 a.m. Monday morning. Each morning during our course, we will gather to discuss our plans for the day. We will be out in the field most days for varying amounts of time, walking local trails no more than a few miles from our cars over gentle terrain. We’ll return to camp each day before dinner to allow time to relax around camp. I usually paint outdoors in the lovely evening light after dinner, and all are invited to join me during these quiet moments. Our course will end after lunch on Friday, by 2:00 p.m. 


Supply List (Required)

If you don’t already have most the required materials listed here, you’ll save time and money by purchasing a complete art supply kit from Andie for $85. (Please be sure to request your kit directly from Andie by May 15!)

  • 3 full-size sheets 140 lb. hot press and/or cold press cotton rag watercolor paper (Arches or Fabriano are recommended. Buy the best you can afford. Student-grade papers will not work as nicely as better papers will.) Cut or tear two sheets into six equal pieces measuring approximately 10 X 11 inches. One full-size sheet of watercolor paper (22 x 30 inches), will yield six 10 X 11-inch pieces. Leave one sheet un-torn. You must do this before coming to class—we will not have the space or tools on site! 
  • 1 lightweight board, such as foam core, mat board, corrugated plastic, thin wood, etc., measuring about 12 X 12 inches
  • 2 clips to fasten paper to your board
  • No. 2 or HB drawing pencil
  • Pencil sharpener
  • Kneaded eraser
  • Fine or extra fine black felt tip pen (such as Pigma micron in size .01)
  • Any colored pencils and/or pastel pencils you may already have, 3 or 4 is plenty
  • Metal ruler at least 12 inches long (longer if you have one)
  • X-acto knife
  • Bone folder, if you have one
  • 1 push pin
  • Manilla file folder
  • Black or brown ink (any type)
  • Plastic lettuce bin cover, butcher tray, open palette, or other large open paint mixing space
  • #10 and #6 round watercolor brushes. Winsor & Newton sable or synthetic brushes (Cotman, Cirrus, Septre Gold, Series 7), or any other brushes you like, will be fine. Travel brushes and/or Pentel water brushes are quite useful. Creative Mark “Rhapsody” round watercolor brushes are an especially good deal for a decent brush. It will pay off over time to buy the best brush you can afford.
  • Foam or flat brush about 2 inches wide (cheap craft or house painting brushes are fine)
  • Optional brushes: 1/4-inch angle brush, and script, rigger or liner brush
  • 2 small containers for paint mixing & painting water, such as a small yogurt containers or jars
  • Small spray bottle
  • Rag or paper towels
  • Folding palette with ample mixing space (4x9 inches, closed is a good size… it opens to 8x9)
  • Fill your palette wells with tube watercolor paints in the following colors. (These are the colors strongly recommend for any basic watercolor kit, and will give the best results during your workshop. With these paints, you can mix more colors than you’ll ever need! The better brands are Winsor & Newton, Daniel Smith, M. Graham, Utrecht and Holbein. All are readily available in art supply stores and online. Andie will have extra paint to share, so if you are missing a color, you will be fine!)
  • Quinacridone rose or pink (purple-biased red)
  • Cadmium red (orange-biased red)
  • Ultramarine blue (purple-biased blue)
  • Phthalo, manganese, or cerulean blue (green-biased blue)
  • Lemon yellow, cadmium yellow pale, or hansa yellow light (green-biased yellow)
  • Cadmium yellow deep (orange-biased yellow)
  • Sap green (good all around green)
  • Oxide of chromium (helpful green for plants)
  • Ultramarine violet or other purple you like
  • Pyrrole orange or other orange you like
  • Burnt sienna and/or burnt umber
  • Quinacridone gold
  • Permanent white gouache (not watercolor)


Warm sleeping bag (I like to bring 2—it can be really chilly at night!)

Sleeping pad

Headlamp or flashlight

Camp chair

Bring your own tent or use tents with beds provided at the field campus

Alarm clock

Lantern for your tent



Although days are generally warm, or even hot at lower elevations, early June offers unpredictable weather. Be prepared for temperatures as low as freezing at night and possibly rain. Variable weather clothing that may be layered is best. Long pants and a long-sleeved shirt, warm sweater and jacket, t-shirt and shorts or skirt, tennis shoes or hiking boots, sun hat, rain gear, and a warm hat or gloves for cold weather or night activities. And don't forget your swim suit for warm afternoon dips in the lakes!



·   Day pack large enough to carry your art supplies, lunch, extra clothing layers, water, etc

·   Warm clothing layers to be comfy sitting outdoors for extended periods of time, including warm hat

·   Rain gear, sun hat, sunscreen, & sunglasses, insect repellent

·   Sit-upon, camp stool, Crazy Creek chair, or whatever you like for sitting comfortably on the ground outdoors

     (I like to bring a lightweight tarp with an ensolite pad)

·   Water bottle for drinking and painting water

·   Lunch fixings will be set out each morning for us, so it is nice to have a sturdy plastic container for your sandwich

·   Comfy hiking shoes


  • • Toiletries & towel
    • Regional maps
    • Camera/phone to take reference pictures
    • Binoculars
    • Field guides
    • Thermos and/or insulated mug for beverages
    • Trekking poles
    • Extra snacks and evening beverages (there’s a fridge for your items in the cafeteria)


  • John Muir Laws, Field Guide to the Sierra Nevada
  • John Muir Laws, The Laws Guide to Nature Drawing and Journaling 
  • Eric Maisiel, Fearless Creating
  • Gary Snyder, The Practice of the Wild
  • Twayla Tharp, The Creative Habit
  • Michael Wilcox, Blue and Yellow Don’t Make Green