The Secret to Luminous Depth

“I have a passion for watercolor that has made me work hard to learn how to utilize the beauty of this medium (notice I didn’t say control?),” says Shelley Prior. “The thing that I’ve always loved is its ability to glow and show luminous depth through its transparent layers. I love the way that the paint flows on the paper which is, of course, the most unique aspect of this medium. That element of surprise and often delight when colors melt together and soften seamlessly without any manipulation from my brush.

“Heart of Gold” (watercolor, 22 x 30 in.)

“Like marriage, it’s not without its challenges, however. You learn the characteristics, all the idiosyncrasies and give up some of that control, working with it rather than against it. It takes patience and understanding.

Watercolor painting by Shelley Prior

“Creating the illusion of light is something I look for in all of my work. The light already exists on the paper. I work transparently with clean color to allow that brilliance to shine through my work and complement it with rich darks in shadows. With light, I can create the illusion of form.”

Watercolor painting by Shelley Prior

When a painting showcases softness and light, it brings a wonderful sense of peace and calm to all who see it. This is exactly what Shelley Prior teaches in “Pet Portraits in Watercolor.”

“Sweet Kitten” (watercolor painting)

Paint with Shelley and other top watercolor artists from around the world at Watercolor Live, a virtual art conference taking place January 26-28, 2023, with a Beginner’s Day on January 25.


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