Saturday, May 16, 2015

Six Lessons I've learned so Far

I began my focus on watercolor painting in 2013.  Lately, I've been feeling a little frustrated. I feel like progress is slow to come. Reading the bios of some of my favorite water color painters, I realize most have been on the journey for many years.

When I get my new studio, later this year (building a house is another journey that can be frustrating at times) I will spread out all of my work and really evaluate my progress, because although I am not where I want to be, I have made progress.

I like to start with a sketch value study. It
helps me get familiar with my subject and
lets me workout the value range before I
start painting.
In the meantime, these are some lessons I've learned along the way.

ONE. Be patient. When it's time to give it a rest and let it dry, give it a rest and let it dry. Fiddling is the worst mistake you can make with watercolor. (Especially too soon. If you have to fiddle, at least war until it's dry.)

TWO. Don't rely on  the reference material too much. The reference is just for inspiration. It's a reminder of what inspired you about a particular scene, person or thing. Lately I've been sketching on location rather than painting. I am trying to use my sketches as references rather than a photo. My sketches remind me of the sweet spot that captured my attention. Plus I like my sketches. They are very loose, free and easy. This is my goal for my watercolor paintings.
I concentrated on the center of interest
painting much of the detail wet into wet

THREE. Use colors that work together and create the mood you want to convey. There are many beautiful colors in nature. I happen to love green and almost every shade of green there is. The green in nature inspires me to make my own shades of green and use them to create my painting, not reproduce exactly what I see. And sometimes I might use a color I don't even see at all. How about that? As long as the colors harmonize and complement each other on my PAINTING, all is good.

FOUR. Use good paper. Use good paint. Watercolor is hard enough and inferior "student grade" supplies are enough to make the student give up before they even begin the journey.

FIVE. Value study value study value study. I have the most successful paintings when I figure out the values before hand. Having that sketch as a reference really helps to keep me on track.

Cobalt background
SIX. Mix up plenty of color. I know paint is expensive, but you want your washes to be wet and juicy so you have time to work with them. If you don't mix enough paint, fear of running out will influence you to paint too dry. This really cuts down on the open time to make the paint move and do it's thing. Related to this is good paper, as mentioned in point (4.) I bought some Fabriano "studio" watercolor paper and it drys too fast, preventing an even wash. This painting was done on the Fabriano "studio" paper. See how the background of cobalt is splotchy? That is totally because of the paper.

Well that's it for now. I want to give credit to some of my recent teachers for some of this advice. Dewitt Harding and Russell Whitten specifically. Oh, most important point of all, keep painting.

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