How to Paint With Watercolor: Live with Keiko Tanabe

How to Paint with Watercolor > Keiko Tanabe is a master watercolor artist who has conducted hundreds of workshops all around the world. Her work has been juried into exhibitions across America, Asia, and Europe. Her paintings can be found in corporate and private collections worldwide.

Born in Kyoto, Japan, Keiko grew up in an art-loving family who encouraged her to pursue her passion.

In this interview with Eric Rhoads, Keiko shares some of her watercolor painting techniques. She explains that she likes to capture the sense of time and place in a plein air painting.

Eric Rhoads and Keiko Tanabe
Eric Rhoads and Keiko Tanabe

If you’re learning how to paint with watercolor, you’ll appreciate that Keiko goes over her palette choice and paint brushes:

She uses a palette that holds 16 colors and is small enough to hold in her hand while painting.

In regards to her watercolor brushes, she explains that she has quite a few because she likes to have a variety from which to choose, but in the end she only needs two. Why? Her painting process consists of two steps: the wash and the details.

A fun tidbit she shares is that the brush doesn’t have to touch the paper when you’re painting with watercolor. Keiko says you can let a drop of the paint fall onto the wet paper and, then: “Just watch and enjoy how the paint spreads into the wet areas.”

Related Notes on How to Paint With Watercolor:

Learn even more from Keiko Tanabe with her art video workshops, “Painting Sunlight” and “Storytelling with Watercolor.”

How to Paint with Watercolor
How to Paint with Watercolor: A scene from Keiko’s workshop, “Painting Sunlight”

Painting Sunlight:
Keiko Tanabe will help you overcome any obstacles to painting outdoors with watercolor! As she sets up her scene, Keiko explains how to visualize the final painting — to picture in your mind how it will look and how it will tell the story you want to tell through it. Once you have a clear picture of the final product, it will make things much easier as you move from start to finish. (learn more)

Storytelling with Watercolor:
In this workshop-style video, paint right along with Keiko as she shows you how to choose what’s important for your paintings, what to leave out, and when to imply objects rather than detailing them in. (learn more)

Watercolor Live 2022


  1. as a plein air watercolor artist, I tend to paint tighter than you. But I so like how you paint with abstract and then straight edges and a focal point like the men and the wheel barrow. You also add alot of color and that brings the painting life. Thanks you so much

  2. Thank you Keiko. I am so appreciative of your teaching method. It’s inspiring.

    Eric, I will go to Switzerland. I was close friends with a chef, Gray Kunz. He recently passed away, but always encouraged me to go to Switzerland to paint. I am not a professional painter, just a passionate one!


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