Rachel Collins offers 9-week classes 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 571-225-2465 or at

Classes and Workshops currently scheduled for 2019 at The Art League:

Watercolor From Start to Finish

A 9-week course offered each year in fall, winter, and spring terms, on Tuesday evenings 7:00-9:30 p.m. and Wednesday mornings 9:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m.. 

Through a series of painting projects, this course covers essential watercolor techniques, working from the simple to the more complex, and building skills and confidence in the process.  Topics include control of the medium, color mixing, and composition.  Demonstrations are part of the class, but painting by students is emphasized.  Experienced students focus on more advanced projects and specific painting challenges to improve color and paint handling, and to develop a strong sense of design and composition.  Each student’s personal style will develop naturally through the painting done both inside and outside class.

Winter term classes start the week of 7 January 2019
Spring term classes
start the week of 1 April 2019

Jumpstart in Watercolor (2-day workshop)

January 5-6, 2019 (Sat.-Sun.)
September 10-11, 2019 (Tue.-Wed.)

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.

Playing with Textural Illusion in Watercolor (2 days)

March 25-26, 2019 (Mon.-Tue.)

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.

Who Says You Can’t Fix Watercolor? (2 days)

August 21-22, 2019 (Wed.-Thu.)

Paint your way to a surprise finish by using a variety of techniques and some imagination. Learn how to critique and change your work in a constructive way, so you can build strong paintings even when things have gone a little awry. For watercolorists with at least a little experience and some abandoned or unfinished paintings, which they should bring to class.

Workshops planned for Academic year 2019-2020

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.

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.

Other workshops offered on a periodic basis:

Know Your Watercolor Palette

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.

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.

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.

Still Life in Watercolor

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.

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, contact Rachel Collins at 571-225-2465 or, or in person in her studio, #342 in the Torpedo Factory Art Center in Alexandria.