Kami Mendlik

Kami Mendlik: Mastering Water: The Secrets of Color and Reflection


Video Length: 5 Hours
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Discover Kami Mendlik’s Step-By-Step Approach To Capturing Lifelike Water and Reflections in Your Paintings!

“There’s no room for guessing when it comes to color.”
- Kami Mendlik



Painting realistic water and reflections convincingly is tricky.

The magical key lies in understanding how colors interact with each other and understanding the principles of light and reflection.

If you’re always trying to guess the color, then here’s a fool-proof way to get it right every single time!

Inside this video, renowned master artist and instructor Kami Mendlik shares her secrets to mastering color so you can create ANY color, at ANY time, WITHOUT guessing.

Through understanding color, you’ll learn to replicate the subtle nuances of light and shadow, the distortion of images in water, and the vibrancy of life reflected on its surface.

With Kami Mendlik’s ingenious game-changing approach, you’ll learn how to interpret the complex color interactions you see in water scenes.

One pivotal lesson that will help you paint water scenes with depth accurately is viewing water and reflections as a shape and color.

In other words, you’re going to learn a NEW way to see water scenes - which could be the breakthrough you’ve been looking for.

Though mastering water scenes takes more than just a few hours…

…the lessons you’ll learn will equip you with a solid foundation and the right techniques for successful, realistic results!

You’ll learn how to solve challenges like how to know what to put in and what to leave out, how to make sure your water lays flat, how to create reflections with depth, how to make water look “wet,” and so much more.

On top of that, you’ll learn to craft the “illusion of light” - where you’ll train your eyes to see through the illusion and see what really goes on behind the scenes.

Kami has been teaching her approach to nearly 1000 students over the past 20 years.

Kami understands the struggles artists go through…

…which means she knows how to get to the crux of the issue and show you WHAT WORKS.

Her emphasis on teaching the properties of color and how colors relate to one another in an approachable, understandable way has been a game changer for both new and experienced painters.

If your goal is to paint water and reflections convincingly, this video could be what you’re looking for!

While it’s true that mastery takes more than a few hours…

…the lessons you’ll learn will equip you with a solid foundation and the right techniques for successful, realistic results!

Time to solve this challenging puzzle once and for all so you start painting more water scenes confidently!


Your Lesson Plan & Goals!

Introduction (3 min.)

Kami Mendlik introduces the video by talking about her plein air painting experiences. She explains how these outdoor sessions can lead to complete artworks or serve as references for larger studio projects. Using your own outdoor experiences and observations can help you understand realistic reflections in water more intimately.,Kami’s aim for this video course is to blend experiences and creativity with traditional art principles.


Graphing Your Subject (8 min.)

Hate math? No problem. In this chapter, Kami outlines a straightforward method for enlarging a plein air study to a studio painting without using math! She uses a photograph of her outdoor color study, explaining how to create a grid on both the photo and painting surface. This technique helps maintain accurate proportions as she begins painting.


Materials (5 min.)

Kami reviews the oil painting materials she uses, including her choice of paints (she paints with an expanded limited palette), brushes, and palette knives, as well as her preference for a halftone gray palette. This choice is crucial for accurately seeing the value of colors, a topic she will explore in depth throughout the demonstration.


The Block-In Wash (30 min.)

This chapter focuses on beginning the painting by establishing the dark areas first. Kami stresses the importance of working with transparent colors to lay down the foundational shapes and tones, preparing for the application of thicker layers of paint later on. She discusses the role of brushwork in creating reflections and the overall composition, emphasizing big shapes and accuracy from the start.


Build Up Shapes (49 min.)

Kami continues to develop the painting by adding to the initial shapes, now adding white to create opaque and lighter colors. She advises on constantly evaluating the temperature and value of colors as the painting progresses. The chapter emphasizes the non-final nature of this stage, encouraging flexibility and adjustment to get the colors just right.


Create Color Harmony (46 min.)

This chapter delves into techniques for achieving color harmony and guiding the viewer's eye through the painting. You’ll learn how to use “transition colors” to help separate subjects softly to lead the viewer’s eye through the painting. You’ll also learn how Kami vividly recalls and incorporates all senses experienced during her plein air session into the studio work. Tips on maintaining connected dark and light shapes, being fully present in the painting process, and achieving “wet-looking” water surfaces are highlighted, along with practical advice on using a palette knife for lily pads.


Work on Nuances (25 min.)

Kami focuses on the finer details of the painting, particularly the lily pads. She emphasizes the importance of preparing mixes of the "average color" beforehand to streamline the painting process. This chapter is about appreciating and applying the subtle nuances of color that contribute to a cohesive yet dynamic composition.


Build Up the Lights (48 min.)

Here, Kami moves on to enhancing the light reflections in the painting, inspired by a striking visual memory of sunlit clouds reflecting on a pond. You’ll discover tips for keeping colors clean and vibrant, how to paint like you're using warm, whipped butter, and brush techniques for creating atmospheric effects in the background.


Refine (47 min.)

In the refinement stage, Kami adds ripples and further develops the atmospheric effects. She reiterates her favorite paint consistency and provides a guide on painting lily pad flowers, emphasizing the natural variation in color. This chapter covers the importance of restraint in making changes, the technique for adding sparkle to water, and maintaining realistic reflections throughout the painting.


Take It to Finish (19 min.)

Kami discusses the criteria for assessing the completion of the painting, including color harmony, the movement of the viewer's eye, and the overall balance of elements within the composition. This chapter teaches you how to know when a painting is finished, focusing on harmony and the effectiveness of reflections and color notes.


Final Review (6 min.)

In the final chapter, Kami reviews the painting, summarizing key learnings from the video. This wrap-up reinforces the concepts and techniques covered throughout the tutorial, ensuring you’re fully equipped to apply these insights to your own work with water scenes!



  • How to make your own halftone gray palette
  • An exclusive interview with Kami Mendlik by Eric Rhoads
  • An inspirational gallery of Kami’s paintings


That’s it!

When you reach this point, you'll feel equipped and confident to masterfully tackle water scenes.

Get started today!


Here’s a small taste of what’s inside “Mastering Water: The Secrets of Color and Reflection”:

  • A masterclass on color relativity, the “Principles of Painting Water,” and other game-changing perspectives…
  • How to “graph” your subject for accurate proportions without using math…
  • Kami’s personal “expanded limited palette” and her specific color arrangement…
  • How to see the TRUE value of color with the halftone gray palette…
  • Specific brushwork techniques for reflections (for example, go downward for reflection brushstrokes!)...
  • The importance of ANGLES to make water “lay flat”…
  • How to easily achieve color variety… and unity…
  • How to achieve even more realistic results simply by “wiggling” the brush…
  • The RIGHT color to use to lighten darks (it’s NOT white)...
  • How Kami simplifies the scene you’re going to paint in this demo (must not miss!)…
  • The ONE question you must always ask when building shapes…
  • A simple trick to get in your color averages…
  • An ingenious vertical approach to making darks “quieter”...
  • PRO TIP: How to neutralize garish colors…
  • A KEY point to remember when painting water, or you’ll have a difficult time making it look “wet” and realistic…
  • How to use white correctly (Kami believes it’s an important color!)...
  • How to paint water lilies in perspective…
  • PLUS: Incredible tips for confident brushwork that makes you look like a pro…
  • …and so many more insights that will push you closer to mastering water and color!


Meet Your New Instructor, Kami Mendlik!


What do these masters have in common?

  • Master Classical Painter Mary Pettis
  • Master Tonalist Joseph Paquet
  • Master Portrait Painter John Foote
  • Master Colorist Camille Przwodek
  • Master Landscape and Composition Painter Ian Roberts

Could you believe they were all Kami Mendlik’s teachers?

All that training under such brilliant painters molded Kami to who she is today - one of the best painters in the world today.

Her knowledge in creating wonderful works of art plus her incredible teaching ability makes her a highly-sought after instructor!

Founder of the St. Croix River School of Painting, she's renowned for teaching representational painting with a focus on color.

Her dedication has earned her the Dorothy Driehaus Mellin Fellowship in 2022 and a Bronze Medal at the Oil Painters of America National Juried Exhibition the same year.

Her book Color Relativity: Creating An Illusion Of Light With Paint, is a testament to her expertise and passion for teaching the nuances of color to create light and vibrancy in paintings.

As a distinguished alumni recipient from Stillwater Area High School, Kami is a signature member of American Women Artists and the American Impressionist Society, demonstrating her respected status in the art community.

Now’s your chance to study under this amazing artist and see YOUR artistry soar to even greater heights!


Customer Reviews

Based on 3 reviews
Michael Roberts
Great painting instruction

I really liked the grid that Kami used. It is easy to create and helps keep everything in perspective. I also liked the palette that was used. I will be using this to refer to over and over again.

Kathy Nottingham
Master painter and incredible teacher

Kami is a masterful impressionist painter and she is an equally talented instructor. I learned so much from this video about seeing color and relationships between colors. Her techniques for mixing colors to create a cohesive values and colors is simple, yet genius. Kami also teaches brush stoke techniques, something that most painters don’t know how to explain or describe. This video is a great lesson for any painter from beginners to experts. My painting from the class is attached. I can’t wait to apply all that I have learned in my future paintings.

Teina Tallarigo
Mastering Water

I just finished watching your video: Mastering Water. I have learned so much and I think you are a very informative teacher!
You explained the 'why' of what you do and I liked your mantra of 'this is not precious' as that releases any pressure one might put on themselves.
I also learned from the video, how to scale a smaller picture to a larger size canvas. So glad you explained this!
Especially helpful was learning the perspective of waterlilies, and the relativity of color. I am so glad I purchased your video!