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Anything but Cold Pressed, Painting on Alternative Surfaces with Alexis Lavine

  • 03 Oct 2023
  • 9:30 AM
  • 05 Oct 2023
  • 4:00 PM
  • The Hawthorn Center, 6175 Sunny Spring, Columbia, MD
  • 9


  • Base price
  • Non-Member price
  • Used only by the workshop chair. BWS policy document states the chair attends at no cost to compensate for the work in setting up and running the event.

Registration is closed

Anything but Cold Pressed, Painting on Alternative Surfaces 

with Alexis Lavine

October 3rd-5th, 2023


Members: July 3rd 2023.............10:00 a.m. $430

Non-Members: July 17th, 2022.........10:00 a.m. $485

Not a member? 

Consider becoming an Associate Member for $30/year. To pay the member fee you must become a member then register for Alexis Lavine's class.

Registration ends September 26th, 2023, or when the event is full

FOR ONLINE REGISTRATION VISIT:     and go to Public Events.

All registrations have to be paid within 5 days of registering. No exceptions please.

For a complete understanding of Alexis's workshop, please read the entire announcement.


The Baltimore Watercolor Society is excited to feature a workshop with the respected watercolor artist Alexis Lavine.  Alexis is our Juror for the 2023 Mid-Atlantic Regional Exhibition.

Alexis Lavine  NWS, TWSA, WHS, BWS

Alexis Lavine thinks that cold-pressed watercolor paper is just fine.  In fact she agrees with most other watercolor painters, who believe that it is a great surface for watercolor painting.  However, Alexis also enjoys painting on “alternative” or “nontraditional” surfaces, such as watercolor canvas, papers that have been coated with acrylic gesso, Yupo, Bristol board, Masa paper ... the list goes on...  And then of course, there are watercolor papers with other surfaces, such as hot-pressed or rough!  

So why bother with all these other surfaces?  For variety!  Excitement!  For new possibilities!  These other surfaces behave quite differently from cold-pressed paper.  Painters can use different techniques or variations of old techniques on them. Painters can achieve new effects or easier effects on them.  And some of these surfaces can even be framed without a mat or glass!

Join Alexis for three fascinating days of surface exploration. She will discuss several different surfaces, and choose two of them for more extended demonstrations ... Watercolor Canvas and Gesso-Coated Watercolor Paper.  Along with her lessons and demos on how to use these surfaces, Alexis will provide you with lots of useful information - about how to conceive, plan, draw, and design your paintings, how to use color and value strategically, and how to better express your feelings and your own personality through your art.



All levels (basic knowledge & some previous experiences strongly recommended to benefit from this workshop)

All levels are welcome but students should have an understanding of the watercolor medium. 


This workshop is all about painting on “alternative surfaces,” not relying on our tried-and-true cold pressed paper. I will be showing you a variety of surfaces, such as HOT pressed, Bristol Board, Yupo, Masa paper, and more. But - - my two demos, which I will work on each day of the workshop will be done on Watercolor Canvas and gesso coated watercolor paper.

Surfaces: I recommend that you buy at least one Watercolor Canvas. I like either Frederix Watercolor Canvas, or Yes! All-Media canvas. Buy pre-prepared canvas panels, or stretched canvas, any size you prefer but either a 11 X  14 or a 12 x 16 work well. You will also need to get WHITE ACRYLIC gesso.

You will be preparing your own gessoed papers to paint on. Your workshop coordinator is going to email you a link to a ten-minute zoom recording, which will show you how to prepare your gessoed paper. By the way, I like to prepare my gessoed paper, applying my gesso on top of cold pressed paper. But, trust me, the end result is NOTHING like using untreated cold pressed paper! It is a completely new experience! And if you prefer, you can also paint your gesso on another kind of paper, as long as it is heavy enough. I do not recommend anything thinner than 140 pound. You may choose to paint on any size gessoed watercolor paper you like but a quarter sheet size is always good.

Watercolor canvas can be framed without using a mat or glass. Before you do that, you will need to seal the surface, with a spray-on ACRYLIC sealer. I like to use Krylon brand Triple-Thick Crystal Clear Glaze, which sprays on nicely. Golden and Blair also make spray ACRYLIC varnishes. In addition, I like to brush on a couple of coats of Liquitex Gloss Varnish, which gives it a beautiful glossy finish and brings out the colors. I use a couple of old 1” wide brushes for applying my gesso and my varnish. Here is a photo of all of the supplies I use for these two surfaces.

In addition to your two non-cold-pressed surfaces, here is a good list of additional supplies.

PAINTING BOARD: You will need a waterproof board to support your gessoed paper, about 1 inch larger than your paper in both directions. The stretched or mounted watercolor canvas will be fine on its own.

PAINT : My favorite brands of paint are American Journey and DaVinci watercolors. These are professional quality paints, reasonably priced. There are many brands available, with a huge variety of pigments, tube sizes, and prices. Whatever you buy, it’s a good idea to check the permanency rating first - you don’t want your paintings fading away!
Basic pigments: Here is my palette. The pigments in capital letters are more basic, if you are just building a palette. The others are less essential for a basic set-up, but I love to use them, and you will surely see me dipping my brush into them. I generally choose pigments which are not heavy stainers.
quinacridone gold,
POPPY (American Journey brand)
cobalt violet deep,
cobalt blue,
Prussian blue,
Mint Julep (American Journey brand)
green gold.

*** PLEASE NOTE: I will surely NOT use every pigment listed here, in your workshop! These paints are on my palette all the time. For any single painting I might use as few as two or three and perhaps as many as a dozen … but never, every single one!

BRUSHES: I do not spend a huge amount of money on sable brushes. There are lots of synthetic brushes and synthetic/natural blends that are excellent and much less expensive. My current favorites are Black Velvet rounds, made by Silver Brush, and Robert Simmons one-stroke flats, series 721 synthetic. I also love my Princeton Mottler brushes, 1” and 1.5” sizes.
If you will be painting small, the following brushes will suffice: 1" flat, 1/2" flat, and a #6 round brush (with a good point.)
You may also want a 1/4" flat brush, a larger round brush such as a #12, and a larger flat brush, such as a 1 1/2" brush, particularly if you will be painting larger paintings.
An old toothbrush is great for spattering paint. It is also helpful to have a couple of different sized scrubber brushes, such as the "Fritch" scrubber, and a few fan brushes for blending.

PALETTE: I use a "Miller's Workhorse Traditional Watercolor Palette" from Cheap Joe's. A covered palette, such as the "workhorse," or the Heritage, Pike, or Wood palette, is best, since it will keep your paints moist between painting sessions. You can also use an enameled butcher tray, or even a white dinner plate, and cover your paints with plastic wrap. Whatever you use, make sure you have spaces for all of your pigments and a large, white mixing area.

OTHER SUPPLIES: Small sketchbook, sketching pencils, soft eraser, plastic water bowl, absorbent cloth rags or paper towels, natural sponge, cotton swabs, salt, 4 bulldog clamps, spray bottle (with an adjustable spray.)

*** Also, just so you know, I buy most of my supplies from Cheap Joe’s. I think their selection, prices, and customer service are unbeatable.

Alexis Lavine, NWS •


As a dedicated and determined transparent watercolor painter, I concentrated on “plein air” painting for many years. Recently, however, I have become more of a studio painter, so I can take more time to design and craft my paintings. This enables me to create the most impact in my work, and communicate with my viewers as effectively as possible.

My painting subjects include landscapes, florals, still lifes, figures, and abstracts, painted on a variety of surfaces. My watercolor paintings appear to be realistic … but they are thoughtfully conceived, strategically designed, and carefully drawn around abstract shapes, values, colors, movement, and positive and negative spaces. I believe that my approach gives my work a more contemporary feel, and results in paintings which convey my personal reaction to my subject, not merely the visual facts.

Education is tremendously important. I earned two bachelor’s degrees and a master’s degree in Medical Illustration, before embarking on my path as a painter. I continue to study art whenever possible, and I also teach painting and drawing classes and workshops. I love to speak about art, share my experience and knowledge, and help my students achieve greater success.

When the pandemic began, I switched to online teaching and think that it is a tremendous way to teach and to learn! My workshop for BWS will be my first in-person workshop, since covid turned our lives upside down.

Recently honored as “One to Watch” by Watercolor Artist Magazine, I am also a signature member of several professional associations, including the National Watercolor Society, Watercolor USA Honor Society, and Transparent Watercolor Society of America. And I am very pleased to say that I have been a Signature Member and Life Member of BWS for a very long time! My paintings can be found in galleries from Maryland and south to the Virgin Islands. 

  • The price for the workshop is $430.00 for BWS members (Signature Artists and Associates) and $485 for non-BWS members.
  • The class size is limited to 22 people, and the workshop cannot be split with another person.
  • Please pay online if possible; The payment system allows the use of your Credit Cards. Otherwise, checks should be made out to Baltimore Watercolor Society and mailed to Dana Kleinsteuber at the address below. Please enter the name of the workshop on your check.
  • Confirmation of your registration will be sent upon receipt of your check or online payment. Checks must be received within 5 days of registration to be considered as registered.


The workshop will take place at The Hawthorn Center in Hickory Ridge

6175 Sunny Spring 
Columbia, MD  21044

FOR ONLINE REGISTRATION VISIT: and go to Public Events. 

Remember that these workshops fill up very quickly. When filled, you can register on the waiting list.


  • BWS maintains a workshop waiting list. When openings occur, BWS fills the openings from the waiting list on a first-come, first-served basis. 
  • BWS adds names to the waiting list according to the date and time 
  • You can join the waiting list if a workshop is filled. 
  • There are often openings so it is worth doing if you are interested in the class.
  • You can't join a waiting list before registration opens.
  • Waiting List registrants- Do not send payment until you are informed of an opening and have been sent an invoice. Any check sent before you have been informed you have a spot will be destroyed.


  • BWS makes decisions and incurs fixed costs based on the number of initial registrants. Cancellations can affect these costs even if there is a waiting list. In addition, cancellations incur processing fees and other costs paid by BWS as well as requiring extra time and organizational effort. Refunds for extenuating circumstances are at the discretion of the event coordinator.
  •  From registration date to 60 days prior to the event = 90% refund

  •  59 days to 21days prior = 75% refund 

  •  20 days to 8 days prior = 50% refund 

  •  7 days = no refund

  • In the event of inclement weather, the workshop will still be held unless the Hawthorn Center is unable to open or the workshop artist is unable to travel.  If BWS cancels the workshop, then all paid registrants will receive a full pro-rata refund for those days that were cancelled.
  • Check this website for changes, updates and new information.
  • Questions and requests to be added to the waiting list can be directed to Dana Kleinsteuber (BWS Workshop Chair) at


The Hawthorn Center is located in the community of Hickory Ridge in Columbia, Maryland:

6175 Sunny Spring
Columbia, MD 21044-5623
Tel: (410) 730-7327


Hawthorn Center doors open at 9:30 AM on the first day October 3rd
Workshop instruction begins: 10:00 AM on the first day and end at 4:00 PM

October 4th and 5th doors will open at 9:00 AM and instruction will be from 9:30 AM to 4:00 PM  

One-hour break for lunch

Please plan to leave by 4:15. Hawthorne Center closes and doors are locked promptly at 4:30 PM

Payments are preferred on line, but if you send a check, please have it made out to BWS and reference Alexis Lavine Workshop to:

Dana Kleinsteuber Workshop Chair
4018 Twilight Grove Ct.

Ellicott City, MD 21042

We anticipate that Covid-19 could continue to be an issue when this event is held. While the current level is low, and would not require masking, we can not tell what October will bring. We make the decision on masking, for the benefit of the entire class, based on a variety of factors including the health departments reported Covid level, the preferences of the instructor and the number of registrants with expressed immune issues and health concerns. If you are immune compromised, or have health concerns,  and doctors suggest those around you mask, please express this to Dana Kleinsteuber, the BWS workshop chair.  BWS understands that none of us like to wear a mask, including me. Please be prepared to wear a mask in this public space during this workshop/program, if requested, knowing that the decision was made after a great deal of consideration. That said, lets hope that things are  looking good in October so we can go without them.

If you feel more comfortable wearing a mask feel free to do so at any time. If you have decided you will never wear a mask again, even if requested by BWS,  do not sign up for this class. 

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