Brush of Genius teaches watercolor painting skills to both children and adults. Beginning painters should start with the Watercolor Whirligig Interactive Media set. Watercolor Whirligig includes a video with four lessons in which Becky Anderson teaches fundamental techniques as students work on a particular watercolor of a landscape farm scene. This set also includes supplies for this and future projects. If you already have art supplies, you can purchase only the DVD.
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 the Anderson’s demonstration project once in a while so that we could see more clearly what she was doing.
The kit includes almost everything you will need in addition to the video: 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 need is water and a paper towel. You can buy an extra set of supplies for another student if you wish. All except the paper can be used over and over again, but you will have enough paper to last a while.
Watercolor Whirligig Interactive Media is the first in a series. Once you’ve completed Watercolor Whirligig, 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.
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. The video instruction is excellent, and I appreciated the high-quality of the art supplies. I know that both I and my granddaughter feel very confident about trying another watercolor project after having such great success with this one.