This magazine is inspiring to the beginner and a challenge to the experienced watercolorist. I never tire of seeing the great work of the artists highlighted in this magazine.
The issues often have workshop-like articles on using computer graphics software, how to handle color, composition or other technical aspects. And then there is just the eye candy, purely for artistic pleasure. While your own painting may not reach the heights of these wonderful artists, the act of looking at paintings, of studying technique and seeing alternative ways of expressing subjects is a solid way to improve one's own art. I prefer "Watercolor" to other art magazines because it focuses on my own medium fully and really goes into depth.
Watercolor for the relatively advanced artist
You might want to check out the American Artist website [...] before you subscribe to their quarterly "Watercolor" magazine. They also publish the "American Artist" magazine and a couple of one-issue magazines that summarize the techniques in "Watercolor" (called "Watercolor Highlights") and "American Artist" (called "Portrait Highlights").
Since 1995 "Watercolor" has been challenging artists with new ideas, new directions, innovations and techniques. It's the kind of regular creative infusion that painters need to stay fresh and develop their work.
The Summer 2003 issue of "Watercolor" focuses on contemporary artists Linda S. Price ("Painting the Town, British Style"), Dunstan Knight ("Bigger is Better"), M. Stephen Doherty ("Watercolors Flowing Under Pastels," "Painting Shapes, Not Illusions," and "How to Recognize a Good Painting Idea"), Dyanne Locati ("Innovation by Experimentation"), Collin Fry ("Finding Rhythm in Structure"), Mark G. Mitchell ("A Teacher's Journey"), Nancy Neaher Maas ("Rediscovering Africa"), M Michael P. Kinch ("Intimate by Nature"), Ruth Mitchell ("Have Art, Will Travel" - my personal favorite), and Melanie Marder Parks ("Hard Edges: Cut Paper").
For instance in Dyanne Locati's article "Innovation by Experimentation" she explores the possibilities of combining watercolor, fluid acrylic, and colored pencil in order to provide a wide range of possibilities in color, texture, and style. She does a couple of step-by-step demonstrations, moving from photographs to an underdrawing, choosing her palette, and demonstrating how the different colors and mediums are used to build the final painting. Five photographs of one painting "Medieval Arches" show various states of completion that the artist wishes to emphasize. Her demo painting "Shopping Spree" is shown in three steps plus three photos.
"Watercolor" also has regular features: "Recent Award Winners;" "The Society Page;" "Advice from Experts;" and "What's New."
If I had to choose between "Watercolor" and its competitor "Watercolor Magic," I would go with the latter magazine, as it seems more attuned to the beginning artist, and its tips and hints are better organized. "Watercolor Magic" works better for me (I've been painting for less than a year), but both magazines are have a lot to teach and are very beautifully put together.