1 & 3 - Thank you very much! But I’m still pretty new to watercolors, so I don’t have too many general tips or advice to give.  Since I did take a class in it, I don’t have any book recommendations or much advice on self-teaching it. I’d recommend finding a book that talked about general basic techniques, and then doing several photo studies, portrait studies, maybe some plein airs. We did about 2 studies a week in my class, one for homework and one during class time. I’ve posted almost all the assignments I did in my watercolor class, if you need examples.

My process on the last pieces I posted was to thumbnail a few compositions until I found one that I was happy with, then do a few small color and value studies on scrap paper, then draw out the lines for the composition in a light blue pencil. Then finally I start the final painting, making sure to try to do each area as much in one go as possible, to keep the vibrancy of the colors. And then a little digital editing if I lost some of the smaller details and whatnot. 

I’d also recommend getting good materials, even if you’re just starting out! Good brushes and paper make a big difference, for me at least. For my class, we had to buy a watercolor block for our final paintings, and two varying sizes of paper for our studies.

(Photo of my watercolor materials, & more answers below cut!)


2 & 5 - Please look at this post of all the tutorials I recommend! I got a lot of my art fundamentals from those when I was starting out.

4 - Sure, go ahead! (:

6 - Sorry for the slow reply to this one - if you need a quicker response, please send me asks off-anon. Thank you. And, well, I have very mixed opinions about the program! It averages out to, I think it’s pretty good. (Otherwise I wouldn’t be here!) I’m very critical of how my education is going, and I disagree or personally don’t do super well with a lot of things that MICA’s illustration department does. But unexpectedly it’s made me think about a lot of important things, mostly broadening my ideas of what I want to do with my art, that I’m not sure if I would’ve considered if I’d stuck entirely to self-teaching/online communities for my education. I haven’t been to any other college art program so it’s difficult to compare, but for me one of MICA’s best aspects has been the supportive community, and from what I hear it’s a bit better than that at RISD or Pratt. If anyone has specific questions, (for someone who’s only been attending MICA for 2 years, by the way) I’d be happy to answer them!


Some of the HW from Sam Neilson’s Fundamentals of Lighting class at Schoolism! (Initial loose lines for these are Sam’s) 

I don’t think I could’ve learned most of this stuff so in-depth, so quickly, if I was completely teaching myself..It’s definitely been one of the most useful classes I’ve taken! :)

Also got a few more asks about studies, and favorite artists/inspirations!

Who are some of your favorite artists?

Hey, who’s your favorite artist? Which one were you talking about?

Mmm I think I was talking about De’Von Stubblefield a few weeks ago. I didn’t say he’s my favourite artist(how could I pick just one?), but his work is a lot of fun (: Right now I’ve been trying to stop focusing entirely on environments & realism, so I’ve been looking at Jesse Aclin/studiogangster, Alexandre Diboine/zedig, James Woods, Cory Loftis, Andrew Mar, elephantfist… My favourite artists change pretty often - I don’t think my work even shows any influence from most of these guys yet. Also I have a terrible habit of falling in love with an artist for a day and then forgetting them after a few days..there’s too much interesting work out there! Imperial Boy, Miyazaki, Daisuke Igaraishi, Amber Blade Jones, Kali Ciesemier, Sam Bosma, Gillian Grossman are some of the longer lasting influences.

Hi, your art work is absolutely gorgeous! I love the colors and stories in them. Was just wondering how you come up with ideas? I go to draw and end up just blanking out or drawing people standing stiffly in the same poses.

Hi, thanks! haha well I sometimes have the same issue drawing characters, which is why I mostly stick to environments(bad habit). Check out what De’Von says about his approach, might be more useful. Photos of the world are always inspiring for me, I get a lot of inspiration from photo blogs like opaaa or vacilandoelmundo. I think creativity is just putting 2 or 3 random things together in a new and interesting way, so I just try to pay attention to everything, and make sure there’s interesting and varied things floating around in my head (:

I love the idea of studies, but I can never figure out how to organize my time for certain studies instead of jumping in and doing a bunch of random ones. How do you divide your time between what studies you need to work on like anatomy or perspective or color? How many hours a week would you say you do studies?

Jumping straight in isn’t bad - it can be nice to have a schedule so that you can keep better track of your progress, but as long as you do some basic things consistently that’s fine. This summer I’ve been spending most of my study time on my schoolism class, but I try to fit in an hour of gestures, some animal studies, and some studies of movie stills as often as I can. I try to break my day up as 5 hours a day for studies, 5 for work(commissions), and 5 for personal work(right now, mostly just a lot of thumbnails and planning cause I’m working on being less generic). I consider personal work most valuable right now, so I try to do that at the time of day I’m sharpest.

How heavily do you rely on reference images when you make your work, assuming that you use references at all? What aspects of your work do you use them for?

While I’m figuring out thumbnails I’ll look up hundreds of photos of various locations/specific objects to help get inspired, and sometimes I’ll keep a few of them up for ref while making the final sketch. That’s pretty much it unless I get stuck further along. I use photo textures a little in detailing big pictures, too.

Asks!! Newest to oldest - some info about studies & sketchbooks :)

How do I contact you for a freelance project

Thanks for the interest, email is best! swebb@mica.edu

When you do a study, what exactly do you learn? Like when you paint from movies or something like that, what is you are looking to learn?

For movie studies I’m paying attention to color schemes and lighting, composition, and arrangement/contrast of detail to space; and how those effect the emotion of the moment. They’re super useful studies, I really recommend doing them! 

Hi there! I really love your work! Anyway, how did you get so good? I really want to be as good as you and paint awesome landscapes but I don’t know how to start. Thanks :)

 How did you study color theory? Are there any websites that can help me? Thanks a bunch!

Thank you!! :) Just practice, you know.. I’d just recommend looking at this post of the tutorials/forums that have really helped me - link

Most of all just spend a lot of time doing quick studies (painting studies, of photos of landscapes or portraits(from life is better though!), gesture studies, study the styles of your favourite artists (figure out what defines their work), and put a lot of time into personal work. Don’t procrastinate and work hard, 4+ hours a day is a good start if you want to see fast improvement ;)

Hey, what’s your personal blog? If you don’t mind me asking?

This is my personal blog!  I don’t have a reblog/inspiration blog though either.

you are beyond phenomenal, thank you for the inspiration <3

You are too, thank you! <3

hey! so just wondering what kind of sketchbook you use, and if you carry it around with you all day or what :)

The first day of orientation at my school they gave out some great fat little(6x4in) sketchbooks that fit into any bag!! Otherwise I’ll mostly just go to the dollar store or garage sales and grab something. Drawing in crappy old sketchbooks encourages you to draw freely and loosely - I used to have super nice sketchbooks but that just led to being reluctant or nervous to draw.

I keep a sketchbook on me all the time, I get a lot of my best ideas when I’m out doing something other than drawing :) 

Hi I just found you on dA, and I completely fell in love with your paintings. They are so, so beautiful. It’s just-the colours and the settings and the detail, it’s amazing. They seem so otherworldly and vibrant and just, well thank you for painting.

Thank you so much! I really appreciate hearing that. Hope you have a great day <3

Anon answers! Sorry for the slow replies to these, private messaging will get you a reply faster ;v;

hi there! i found your work on dA and fell in love uwu if you don’t mind could you show us what programs you use and your brush settings? :)

Hi, and thanks! I use PSCS 5 and my brushes are mostly default ones, airbush/hard round, oil pastel large, and the stumpy pencil for lineart.

I’m curious, did you apply for RISD? I want to apply there and I thought your portfolio was beautiful, so I was wondering how they liked your portfolio..??? S sorry for the strange question omg hdhhdd

Ah yeah I applied there and was accepted, and I guess they liked my portfolio cause they offered me decent scholarship? National Portfolio Days are really really worth going to if you want to know what a specific school will think of your portfolio!