OK, so Charlie may have something with this “paint every day” thing. I’m definitely getting more out of it this go-round than my first time trying this last July (pure coincidence, I was doing a solo watercolor challenge after finally buying some good paper. It was almost like starting from scratch, as I’d been compensating for the other paper without realizing it). This is 5 3/4 x 5 1/8″ on Arches 140 lb. cold-press watercolor paper:
I am starting to gain confidence with watercolor now, and these daily paintings are really helping. Limiting my palette to two or three colors (M. Graham watercolors in Phthalo Blue, Aureolin/Azo Yellow, and a bit of Winsor and Newton Green Gold), getting a section of the paper damp and then dropping in pigment and watching what happens, playing with the washes (tipping the paper this way and that, adding water here, adding pigment there) as they dry…..you can learn an awful lot just by doing that! And it actually becomes fun to watch paint dry, because it’s fun to see how you can steer the colors; it becomes more and more for me, an intentional process, rather than just a happy-accidentally-pleasing watercolor painting. (It doesn’t take long to dry either, in the July heat. Bonus!) (Note: As a Blick Art Materials affiliate, purchases from these links help support my site. Enjoy free shipping for orders of $35 or more through this Friday, and thank you!)
Not to say you don’t get happy accidents, because you totally do, and I think with watercolor, you always will, which is why everyone loves it. But I find as I become more familiar with the paper, the pigments, the brushes, the effects I’m getting become more intentional, I’m learning when to wait and when to steer/fiddle a bit, and overall it’s just lots and lots of fun.
A few notes:
- Quinacridone and Phthalo colors really move. They are so much fun to drop into damp paper. It’s almost like watching a scifi flick!
- A barely damp acrylic brush is a great way to get rid of hard lines that form where you don’t want them. (I use a Princeton Umbria flat, just love it for acrylic painting too)
- Best not to plan too far in advance, I’m finding. I begin with a couple of shapes and then try to respond to what I’m seeing in the painting so that I can try and build a pleasing composition, and a nice size/shape balance. A sure way to wreck one of these is to plan the whole thing out. Watercolor is unpredictable enough that I do not want to squash it. Just need to let the genie out of the bottle, let it breathe, and learn to take a breath and just wait. And see what happens.
Hmm…..I’m already wondering what the month of August will bring. Will I run back to acrylics? Will I stay with geometric abstracts? Have I fallen back in love with watercolor? Have we all fallen into an episode of “The Young and the Restless”?! I hope you’ll stick around and find out. I have no clue where this train is going. Choooooo choooooooooooooooooooo. Peace.