watercolor plein air painting
"Greek Hospitality" by Georgia Mansur

Georgia Mansur reveals how watercolor contributes to her personal aesthetic and enhances her preferred way of working, and why it’s the perfect medium for painting en plein air.

The following is part of a series featuring a leader in the art community who is on the faculty of the 11th Annual Plein Air Convention & Expo in The Great Smoky Mountains, May 20-24, 2024. Georgia also has a brand new art video workshop available, titled “Vibrant Watercolors,” in which she demystifies the watercolor process, guiding you through three critical stages of painting.

Inspiring Watercolor Artist: Georgia Mansur

Painting style: I would describe my work as bold, colorful, expressive, and innovative. There’s nothing wishy-washy about it. My goal is to paint my impression of how a scene makes me feel rather than copy exactly what is in front of me. I like pushing the boundaries to see how far I can go to express my feelings and make it truly my own.

Often we see a fleeting glimpse of Mother Nature’s power and when we try to paint it, something gets lost in translation. I try to capture that glory and wonder in my work, and move people to feel it on a visceral level in themselves.

watercolor plein air painting
“End of Summer” by Georgia Mansur

How watercolor contributes to her personal aesthetic: Watercolor may be the perfect medium to capture first impressions fast, fresh, and free. I also love that I can lift areas to reclaim highlights, say on a sunstruck roof or flower petal.

How watercolor enhances her preferred way of working: My painting method generally consists of three washes or stages, but when I have a subject that calls for dimensional texture — for example, rocks, trees, or old buildings — I sometimes add an extra step at the start.

In this case, I apply a layer of paste or ground, such as:
– Daniel Smith Watercolor Ground
– Qor Light Dimensional Ground, or
– Golden pastes that work well with watercolor, including Crackle Paste and Molding Paste. The pastes and grounds dry quickly, but I often use that time to get started on a second piece before going back into them.

Using these tools makes my work more three-dimensional so I can really play up the textural elements. Watercolor ground is also a great tool for reclaiming my whites if I get a bit carried away. They work similarly to Liquid Paper in their ability to allow me to go back and make corrections — to take a second bite of the cherry.

watercolor plein air painting
“Hill of Gold” by Georgia Mansur

How watercolor is particularly well-suited to painting en plein air: Lightweight and easy to travel with, watercolor allows for a spontaneous response without too much setup or breakdown time, often requiring little more than a sketchbook or a paper block.

I think the more readily accessible the materials are, the more likely people are to use them — and the more often they use them, the more they gain the benefits of putting miles on the brush. Bonus: watercolor washes up with soap and water.

Editor’s Note: Join Georgia Mansur and PleinAir Magazine in the Smokies for the 11th Annual Plein Air Convention & Expo! May 20-24, 2024. We’ll have five stages with over 80 instructors and will be painting throughout The Great Smoky Mountains, including the Biltmore Estate.

Connect with Georgia Mansur at georgiamansur.com.


  1. Thank you for this feature, i really appreciate it and hope you will join me at one of my upcoming workshops around the world in watermedia. I teach in watercolour, acrylic, mixed media and watersoluble oils, everything that washes up in soap and water and is travel friendly! Check my website for upcoming workshops, including exciting new opportunities to come in Morocco, Italy and South Africa! I would love to share more with you and take you to your next level of painting!


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