Awash in Geometric Watercolor! (World Watercolor Month, 20/31)

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:

072016

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:

  1.  Quinacridone and Phthalo colors really move.   They are so much fun to drop into damp paper.    It’s almost like watching a scifi flick!
  2.  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)
  3.  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.

64 thoughts on “Awash in Geometric Watercolor! (World Watercolor Month, 20/31)

  1. Oh weeeee! I am happy to know that you are becoming super friends with watercolors, Laura . And having beautiful intentional play and developing a creative habit that is difficult to shake off. I am so happy for you! I think when the month ends, you will definitely schedule watercolor bonding dates with your papers, palette and brushes and create lovely pieces. Ah and yes, don’t forget the experiments you do all the time. Just remember not to blow up your studio. 🙂

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  2. Your last paragraph had me giggling so hard! I do enjoy your posts, and art, Laura. I’m pretty sure whichever direction you go it’s bound to be continuosly inspirting. I love this abstract – it drew me in to each of its ‘windows’ and I felt beauty and peace. Well done!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Aw thank you, Sharon. Wow, I’m so glad to hear that! Honestly, wet in wet watercolor……I can’t think of anything better. Especially when there is no need to make it conform to something or BE anything but beautiful. Just enjoying watercolor for what it brings to the table, and nothing else. It’s just what the doctor ordered for me right now. I’m so glad it’s giving you feelings of hope; you made my day with that comment, friend. 💜

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      1. I’ve read some other books about North Korea. What a scary place. Two of our kids are stopping there today, as a matter of fact. They are off running around South Korea and will stop at the DMZ. Your images are consistently peaceful, which I appreciate.

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  3. Once again Laura you have produced some beautiful work. I’m really enjoying the compositions and effects you are getting. The last paragraph I can relate too, especially when painting the rose series – stepping back and looking at the painting in progress lets me see developing patterns.

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  4. You can run back to acrylics but later! please? just kidding, you can do whatever your little heart pleases…..now you mentioned something that I have been having fun with lately. I even did this while plein air painting those trees yesterday. You start brushing on a color, spray it with a sprayer, tilt this way and that…..add another color and tilt and spray if needed but don’t overly saturate. The color spiders and mingles and makes these because blends of color and then the paper has these little portholes of white showing through, it is so fun! I have been doing this with my Madrone paintings and yesterday’s paintings. This is when it helps to have fresh paint though….and watch that you don’t make mud, stick to two or three colors. By the way, I love your painting, it reminds me of several different views of the sky. The window on the right side the way it looks like a huge wave….you are doing very well with watercolor, keep it up…..go bigger each time if you can. Wait till you are like 11 x 14 and want to even go bigger! It will be fun because you can really get into the swing of things.

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  5. Ha ha ha Have we all fallen into an episode of the “Young and the Restless”? Good one Laura!! Hear me giggle. Working with water colors has been a learning curve for me as well. Having better paints, brushes and paper an asset. I don’t think Mr. Charlie O’Shields will let us go back to acrylics. Not permanently. We will get called back to something fun with water colors. I love the crisp colors of this one. Using only two or three colors at a time keeps things from getting muddy looking. Have a wonderful day. Cheers

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  6. Laura, I spent some time looking at this image this evening. I really want to try the abstractions you’ve been doing and I looked closely at how the color moved through the image. Much of it seems to be without strokes, which gave me some ideas. I made a couple abstractions and I don’t like them at all. But I have some ideas to try again. Thanks for leading the way on this. Pretty cool stuff.

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    1. Kirk, I’m so glad you’re trying them and having fun with it! The more water you use on the page, the less you’ll see any brush strokes at all and tilting the paper can hide them too if there are any to begin with. But only if there is enough paper on your surface for the color to swim in. I hope that helps. Looking forward to seeing anything you feel like sharing!

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      1. Laura-thanks. I was going to add that the thing I saw and then tried was being much more generous with water. The sketch that will post tomorrow is not an abstract, but I used more water and I see myself trying that more. I like the effect.

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  7. I was just smiling as I read this, I agree with everything you discovered. I’m still discovering things as I’m sure you will also.
    I love the colors and geometric feel to this. It’s also a fun way to discover what blended colors will do.

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  8. Thanks for proving me RIGHT!! hehehehe! This is beautiful!! Daily is the way! I love that you’re tackling watercolor like this, because each piece is better than the next! And your confidence is totally showing!! (I’m doing a little happy dance now… which I won’t show you, but I’m sure you can imagine). Fabulous, Laura!! 😍😃

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