Rachel Collins offers a regular 9-week class in watercolor for painters of all levels, from beginning through advanced, at The Art League in Alexandria, VA. In between regular terms at The Art League, she schedules a variety of two- and three-day workshops. She is available to present watercolor workshops elsewhere ranging in length from one to five days. For further information and a list of references, please contact her at 703-838-9695 or at

Classes and Workshops currently scheduled for 2016-2017 at The Art League:

Watercolor From Start to Finish

A 9-week course offered each year in fall, winter, and spring, held in the Art League’s Madison Annex on Tuesday evening, Wednesday and Thursday mornings. 

 Tuesdays 7:00 pm – 9:30 pm

            Fall term classes start 20 September 2016
Winter term classes start 10 January 2017
Spring term classes start 4 April 2017

Wednesdays 9:30 am – 12:30 pm

            Fall term classes start 21 September 2016
          Winter term classes start 11 January 2017
          Spring term classes start 5 April 2017 

Thursdays 9:30 am – 12:30 pm

            Fall term classes start 22 September 2015
Winter term classes start 14 January 2016
Spring term classes start 6 April 2016

This class introduces classic watercolor techniques and builds systematically from the simple to the more complex.  Topics include use of value, control of the medium, color mixing and composition.  Demonstrations are part of the class, but painting by students from still life and photographic references is emphasized.  Experienced students focus on projects to improve color handling, composition, and specific painting challenges.

Jumpstart in Watercolor

September 13-14, 2016 (Tues.-Wed.)
June 21-22, 2017 (W-Th)

This “total immersion” in watercolor will give students a chance to explore some of the many possibilities of the medium.  It can serve as a basic introduction to watercolor, a refresher for someone who hasn’t painted for a while, and as a preparation and confidence-builder for students intending a longer-term study of the medium.  No previous experience in watercolor is assumed, although very basic drawing skills are helpful.

Know Your Watercolor Palette

Nov. 29-30, 2016 (Tues.-Wed.)

The “color” part of “watercolor” offers both excitement and challenge to the painter in this transparent medium.  A series of paint-handling and color-mixing exercises in this workshop will enable the watercolorist to use the colors on his or her palette with more confidence and understanding of why pigments and color act the way they do. The focus is on acquiring knowledge and skills that you will apply every time that you paint, rather than on producing a finished painting in class.

Playing with Textural Illusion in Watercolor

Dec. 7-8, 2016 (Wed.-Thurs.)

Because watercolor does not have literal texture in its painting surface beyond the texture of the paper, watercolorists experiment with all sorts of ways to create the sense of a textured surface.  Giving this a try will introduce you to a whole different approach to putting paint to paper! For watercolorists with at least a little experience.

Still Life in Watercolor

April 1-2, 2017 (Sat.-Sun.)

Still life painting is a time-honored way to hone skills but hardly stops there.  A still life can tell a story, and you as artist can be both dramatist and stage manager: devising the plot, characters, set design, lighting, casting, and props. From this you can create exciting, unified paintings in watercolor. For watercolorists with at least a little experience.

Other workshops offered but not currently scheduled:

Close-Focus Watercolor

Taking a close-in viewpoint enables the artist to explore the interplay between the representational and the abstract, and thereby make exciting paintings.  Working from photographs and actual objects, students will develop good compositions, and use a variety of watercolor techniques to realize these compositions. For watercolorists with some experience.

Watercolor by Design

A little pre-planning does wonders for ensuring the success of a painting.  This class will focus first on effective methods of working with design elements to construct strong compositions, and then on realizing these compositions through the process of painting in watercolor.  For watercolorists with at least a little experience.

Can This Watercolor Be Saved? An ABC for Finishing Watercolor Paintings

Bringing a painting to a successful conclusion requires us to Assess, Balance, and Change. Learn how to critique your own work in a constructive way, and discover how corrections are possible in watercolor, so we can build strong paintings even when things have gone a little awry.  For watercolorists with some experience and some abandoned or unfinished paintings, which they should bring to class.

Negative Painting: A Positive Experience for Watercolorists

Learn how to create exciting images in watercolor by painting around your subject, rather than painting the subject directly.  In the process you will think about painting in a whole new way and develop both painting and composition skills.  For watercolor painters with at least a little experience.

Painting Nature Up Close in Watercolor

Using actual natural objects and photographic references as source material, students will work on composition, drawing and watercolor technique to make compelling paintings from some aspect of the natural world.  Intermediate watercolor experience and skills helpful.

Glazing in Watercolor

Glazing in watercolor involves painting one layer of color over an already painted surface.  Although the inherently transparent nature of watercolor makes glazing a natural technique for the medium, the actual process of layering the paint can either make or break your watercolor painting.  Students will learn about the many uses for glazing and how to apply the paint effectively to build both color and composition. This workshop works best for students with at least a little experience.

How to register for Art League classes and workshops

Register online at  or contact The Art League at their office 703-683-2323, located on the 2nd floor of the Torpedo Factory Art Center, 105 N. Union Street, Alexandria, VA 22314.  Full information about The Art League is given on their website and in their School catalog, issued annually, and available from the office and throughout the Torpedo Factory Art Center.  Supply lists are available from the instructor and from the Art League Store in the Torpedo Factory.  Classes are usually held at the Madison Annex of The Art league, located at 808 North Fairfax Street, Alexandria. 

 Course details and dates are subject to change.  For the latest information or if you have questions, please contact Rachel Collins at 703-838-9695 or, or in person in her studio, #342 in the Torpedo Factory Art Center in Alexandria.