At the halfway point of #30x30DirectWatercolor2018, and I’m looking back at the half-month with some thoughts and some favorite picks.
If you aren’t a natural direct-watercolorist, (I’m not!) then this is a HARD challenge! To see exclusively in shape and yet keep a piece from being overworked takes a whole lot of focus. The impulse to just pick up a pen and finish the piece is strong!
Some subjects are easier to work in direct watercolor and get loose with because they’re forgiving. Like this landscape with simple perspective. Knowing I didn’t have to get the drawing right meant I was free to focus on capturing the feel of the blazing heat. I couldn’t resist painting in the two figures: to me, they add a story to the piece.
I was quite pleased with this next piece because it combined many challenges for me: painting a person/people without line (and not just as ‘little people in a landscape’), creating the feel of space and activity without getting too specific. And, the piece is darker, literally, than a lot of what I paint. In both this piece and the one above I like that I got pretty dark values that still stayed transparent, something I often struggle with.
On other days I just took it easy and painted stuff I understood well and had painted before. Like this skull that sits on my studio table, a ready model whenever I need one. I also painted this on the wrong side of a sheet of Arches paper.(The other side was used for a rather unsuccessful piece). Doing this totally takes the pressure off creating a ‘good piece’ and it’s amazing how much it adds to flow and looseness. If only I could convince myself to work like this more!
All my piece use white gouache. I use it like I would any other color, and while I try to save my big whites, I don’t save smaller ones if I feel saving them will make me work tighter: I feel like it’s an exchange sometimes, saving a white versus working loosely. And for me, spontaneity usually wins over careful planning.
So what have I learned so far? (Besides that this is hard work?)
- Seeing in shape-first is slowly becoming less difficult. Right now the hard part is keeping from quickly jumping to pen after that first take on big shapes.
- I am enjoying watching watercolor move on the paper with no line to hold it within bounds, and I’m learning a lot about pigments and transparency in the process.
- If I hang on for another few weeks and work at this, there will be more insights and progress. I think.
I’d love to hear what you’re learning if you’re attempting to paint this way. Or if it’s your go-to way to paint too.