Watercolor in the Zen with Ellen Elmes

Class Details

Watercolor in the Zen with Ellen Elmes

We will utilize the Enso symbol, a circular brushstroke shape that is considered sacred in Zen Buddhism, as a springboard for developing watercolor imagery.

Week 1 Instructor(s)
No items found.
Week 2 Instructor(s)
Week 3 Instructor(s)
No items found.
Period One
9:00 am
Period Two
10:30 am
No items found.

As a springboard for developing watercolor imagery in our paintings during the week, we will utilize the Enso symbol, a circular brushstroke shape that is considered sacred in Zen Buddhism, an example of Japanese calligraphy, a meditation on togetherness, and a representation of harmony, wisdom, hope, strength, or peace in modern life. The instructor will guide students in establishing the Enso shape on paper, and then demonstrate and engage students in techniques of watercolor washes and glazing transparent layers of images inside and out of the circle to build an expressive composition. Before we meet in person, please write or select (from copyright-free material) a couple of lines of poetry, song lyrics, a classic saying, or any phrase that is meaningful to you and relative to your interpretation of the Enso symbol. For more info on the Enso symbol, here is one helpful online reference site: (There are many!) https://symbolsage.com/enso-symbol-and-its-meaning/

The written words that you bring with you to class may be incorporated into your finished painting if you choose to do so.

No previous experience in watercolor painting is required for taking this course, however, drawing experience and practice in some realm of visual art and creative thinking might provide a leg up for participants in the class. Each student will be encouraged to explore the concept on their own skill level and to be open to trying a new creative process and varied techniques of watercolor painting. Process will be more focused upon than product!

For information about the instructor and her work, visit her website: www.ellenelmes.com

For questions or more info about the course, contact Ellen at: ellen.elmes@gmail.com

Limit: 16 students, ages 16 and up

All students should bring:

  • Pencils
  • Kneaded eraser
  • Palette (can be sturdy paper plate or foamcore tray)
  • Water cup
  • Paper towels
  • Masking tape
  • Scissors
  • If possible, lightweight board big enough for attaching watercolor paper of 18”x24’’ size.

Materials fee of $25 includes:

  • Synthetic Watercolor Brushes: (to take home with you) (10” round brush; 1” flat brush)
  • Watercolor Paints (Tubes of basic colors listed below will be provided from which students can take paint needed for their in-class palettes)
  • Watercolor Paper:(1) sheet of 18”x24” and (2) quarter sheets of 11”x15” Cold Pressed 140 lb. Arches watercolor paper.

NOTE: Contact the instructor upon registration to sign up to purchase the materials kit.

For those who wish to purchase/bring their own materials:

Professional Watercolor Brushes: (brush hairs can be natural or synthetic, but not bristle brushes)

  • (1) 10” and/or 12” round brush
  • (1) 1” flat brush

Watercolor Paints: (suggested brands – Winsor Newton, including Cotman series, Grumbacher, van Gogh, M. Graham & Co., Daniel Smith) Tube transparent watercolors. These are suggested colors (or equivalent colors that might go by a different name of certain brands):

  • Ultramarine Blue or Cobalt Blue Hue
  • Cerulean Blue
  • Cadmium Yellow Light Hue or Aureolin Yellow
  • Yellow Ochre or Raw Sienna
  • Cadmium Red Light Hue or Pyrrol Red
  • Alizarin Crimson Hue or Rose Madder
  • Violet
  • Sap Green
  • Permanent Green Light
  • Burnt Sienna
  • OPTIONAL: Quinacridone Gold, Windsor Blue or Turquoise, Viridian Green


  • (1) sheet of 18”x24”
  • at least (2) quarter sheets of 11”x15” Cold Pressed 140 lb. Arches watercolor paper


Something For Everyone

Schedule a week or two, or three! Or, just sprinkle some classes in between other commitments.

Week 3 - returning in the future

Download Schedule

Week 1

Download Schedule