Brush of Genius teaches watercolor painting skills to both children and adults. Beginning painters should start with the Watercolor Whirligig Interactive Media course in which students learn to paint a scene called "Country Life." The course video has four lessons in which Becky Anderson teaches fundamental techniques as students use watercolors to paint a farm landscape scene. A list of required supplies is on the website with a link to DIckBlick.com where you can easily find them You will use most of these supplies for other Brush of Genius courses. Once you’ve completed the first course, you can move on to four other landscape painting projects that teach additional techniques: "Winter Aspens," "Metolius River Basin," "Sun Valley Aspens," and "Mountain Splendor." (I completed only the first course, so I'll describe that experience in detail.)
While Watercolor Whirligig is suggested for ages seven and up, I think most children younger than ages eight or nine might find it too challenging. This is a fairly complex scene that requires some basic sketching skills along with painting. So children should have both sufficient small-motor coordination and attention span before tackling the course.
Children aren’t the only potential students. The course has been used in school groups, homeschools, and senior homes, as well as for family nights, dates nights, and lots of other settings.
The course truly requires no prior painting skill. Anderson walks students through the entire project step by step. While the video was filmed as she taught a group class, segments were added where Anderson gives more detailed demonstrations of the process. The video tells when it is time to pause it and complete the next steps. Students don’t get overwhelmed with the entire project since they are tackling only portions of the project at a time. My only comment for improvement of the video is that I sometimes wished that the camera had zoomed in closer on Anderson’s demonstration project once in a while so that we could see more clearly what she was doing.
If you purchase the required art supplies, you will have almost everything you will need (besides the DVD with the lessons). These supplies are a tablet of watercolor paper, a high-quality set of watercolors, a set of five artist-quality brushes, a kneaded eraser, a sketching pencil, and a pencil sharpener. All you have to supply on your own are water and a paper towel. I strongly recommend that you don't skimp by trying to use lower quality paints or brushes. Using better quality supplies makes it easier for the student to be successful.
While Watercolor Whirligig breaks the project up into four lessons, you can work at whatever pace suits you. I worked on this with my nine-year-old granddaughter, completing the entire project in about four hours on one day, taking a couple of breaks. My granddaughter has an unusually long-attention span for art projects for her age, so it was great to just spread out our supplies and then come and go from it in one day without having to set it up again. On the other hand, working on it in small chunks over days or weeks might be the best way to approach it with other students. There are numerous points at which you could stop and start easily enough, even in the middle of some of the lessons.
The entire Watercolor Whirligig course is very nicely put together, and the video instruction is excellent. I know that both I and my granddaughter feel very confident about trying another watercolor project after having such great success with this one.