My name is Jean Lurssen and I’m an artist and instructor living in Northern California. The luminosity of watercolors is what fascinates and draws me to the medium. Over the years, my style has changed and evolved. I found my style through a mixture of experimenting, finding out what works and what doesn’t, and also being influenced by other artists. I like creating textures in my work and continually try to stretch the boundaries of watercolor.
I sometimes include acrylic inks and other materials to get the results I am looking for. I also enjoy painting dramatic moody skies. I paint mostly from imagination but am influenced by the shapes in nature around me here in Northern California and by my previous experiences living in England, South Africa, and Zimbabwe.
I first studied acrylic painting at the Rhodesian School of Art in Zimbabwe, where I learned some basic painting skills. After settling in the US with my family in the 1980s, I decided that I really wanted to learn to paint with watercolors.
When we moved from the east coast to California in 1998 I was fortunate enough to be able to sign up for four years with master watercolorist Jerry Stitt, AWS. It was a small class of about six to eight people and Jerry had a wonderful approach to teaching watercolors. We would bring one or two paintings to the class each week for critique in front of the class, which was a bit daunting at first since up to then I was self taught.
Jerry would analyze our paintings based on the elements and principles of design – something I had not even considered up to then. He had a big easel with a sign attached that read “what would make this a better painting.”
He also had a piece of plexiglass that he would then place over your painting and with colored pens add maybe a tree in just the right place, or it could be a telephone pole, or any other vertical or horizontal element that would transform your painting. It was a great learning experience to see exactly what you had missed in your composition.
After the critiques he would then do a demonstration watercolor. The interesting thing about his class is that none of the students painted in the same style. Some painted in the abstract, some in realism and some of us were impressionists, but we all benefitted enormously from his knowledge and guidance.
A few of my favorite watercolorists are the late John Blockley, Ann Blockley and Jean Haines. I love their loose style of painting that leaves things for the eye to interpret. A few years ago, I entered a Jean Haines watercolor challenge in using the color yellow, and was fortunate to be one of the winners, receiving a set of her brushes and some watercolor paints.
I use Daniel Smith and Winsor & Newton artist’s watercolors. I just love the Daniel Smith colors and use them mostly, but there are some basic colors that I prefer Winsor & Newton for like raw sienna, burnt sienna and payne’s gray. My favorite go-to watercolor paper is Arches hot-pressed paper. Just love the way the colors stay more vibrant than if I use cold pressed paper. For cold pressed paper I favor St. Cuthbert’s Mill. It’s an excellent paper that doesn’t soak up the paint as much as other cold pressed papers. I also use Daler-Rowney’s acrylic inks sometimes to create more texture in my watercolors.
I sell my paintings online on my website and Zatista. I also teach watercolors online at Udemy and Teachable. I love sharing my passion for watercolors and have short tutorials on my Youtube channel. I feel that even though I have been painting for about 30 years now, I am still in a learning process which keeps me trying to improve on what I do. I love creating watercolors that both please me and resonate with the viewer.