Direct Watercolor Strategy #3: Don’t Stop at One

More strategies I’ll be using to get to quick, bold, no-line Direct Watercolor.
One of the easiest ways for me to end up with a no-good piece is to start out with the expectation that my end result will be good. One way to take the pressure off any one piece for me is this:

Strategy #3: Don’t Stop at One
Do more than one take on the same piece. Commit to it at the start. Starting off knowing I’ll do at least a second piece helps me loosen up. And, I can start with a second piece after my first wash is done and then come back and add those darkest and lightest bits when the paint is dry. I still create lots of smudges and blots, but it’s fun to do more than one take. And sketching a hot drink motivates me to be super quick so it doesn’t get cold.


I’ll do this often. With simpler subjects, it’s just to see something a different way (I don’t know if there’s one coffee sketch above I like better than the other: they’re both different).

But with a more complex subject, I’m still problem-solving with take#1 (yes, even when I do a small study, there’s still new challenges like introducing water and color). In this first sketch of these two women I did a little study , but then overworked the watercolor piece.

So I did one more. Getting the face and hair just right wasn’t important, I figured. What I wanted to capture was the feeling of them being deep in conversation. That helped me stop fussing details.


Remember yesterday’s post with the small study? Well, I posted one study and one direct watercolor, but here’s what I did in the hour I was in Los Gatos.

I started here, liked the light I managed to leave out in the direct watercolor, but didn’t like some of the murkiness from overworking.

So I took a break and did this one in my go-to style: Pen first, loose, not caring that the proportions were totally off.

Then I went back to working in direct watercolor again.

That’s what it takes sometimes, when I’m trying something less familiar. Do you ever do multiple takes on a scene? Does it help you?

Here’s a growing list of strategies I’ll be leaning on for direct painting:
Strategy #1: • Pick a forgiving subject
Strategy #2: • Do a Small Study First
Strategy #3: • Don’t Stop at One

I’ll add more strategies next week.
If you haven’t joined in yet, join the Direct Watercolor group on facebook here.


About Suhita Shirodkar

obsessive-sketcher. graphic designer.
This entry was posted in challenge, Paintings, Supplies and Materials, teaching, tools, watercolor and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

8 Responses to Direct Watercolor Strategy #3: Don’t Stop at One

  1. mayelalameda says:

    Great ideas Suhita. Your suggestions are making facing this challenge with ease. All great ideas. Keep them coming.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Your suggestions are terrific. Thank you from a newbie who is rather intimidated (but still going to do this!)

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Susanne Haun says:

    It’s a good strategy, I do the same in drawing.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. This is so helpful for people to hear. I make multiple versions SO OFTEN. And my sketchbooks are so messy from all the variations – never one of these well-put-together, well designed books.


    • Jane that sounds like my sketchbooks: unfinished pages, disastrous attempts, sketches done upside down: I guess I will never be making one of those lovely flip-through-videos of my book! But working like that allows me the freedom to do whatever I want, so I’m sticking with it!


  5. L.F. says:

    I am so impatient and hard on myself, if I don’t get it on the first try I feel like a failure! I never attempt two times the same subject, but I just might start right now! It’s amazing how different the mood can be from one painting to the next, like the two people in conversation in both your paintings. Thank you for these posts!


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s