Stretching outside my comfort zone

I thought I’d take it easy during the Direct Watercolor challenge and just paint subjects that were easier for me to work in direct watercolor, but I’m wanting to (on most days) stretch outside that comfortable space and do more challenging stuff.

I love painting bustling spaces full of people. It’s a hard subject for direct watercolor. (but it can be done, have you seen Marions Rivolier’s work?) So I gave it a shot this week at my local In-N-Out Burger. I did 2 sketches, the first one in brushpen and watercolor, the second in direct watercolor.

This is the first one, in a technique I work in quite frequently. Gotta love the Pentel Pocket brushpen, it’s so great for drawing quickly and boldly.

And this next one in direct watercolor.

With both pieces I knew it was important for me to capture the energy of the place. Both techniques capture it differently in my opinion, and I am surprised by what I could do with #2. That said, #2 was much harder for me to work on and even working quickly took atleast twice as long as #1. Which is fine if I have the time and am generally just capturing the feel of a space, but it is a big consideration for me when I’m doing more reportage-style sketching and trying to capture a fleeting story.

I also think my way of working in line and color is more literal: I can tell the stories of particular people, capture gestures and details I can’t in direct watercolor. But direct watercolor does capture mood really effectively.

Now to figure how to get the best of both worlds in one piece… I think I’ll save that problem for another day though!

You can join the Direct Watercolor group on facebook here. When you post, tag your work with #30x30DirectWatercolor2018


About Suhita Shirodkar

obsessive-sketcher. graphic designer.
This entry was posted in california, challenge, Close to home, Drink, Food, How to, Paintings, people, reportage, san jose, Silicon Valley, tools, watercolor and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

10 Responses to Stretching outside my comfort zone

  1. pbass wil says:

    Funny, although the Pocket Brushes have black ink, I don’t really think of their marks as simply ‘lines’. You _use_ it as line – you delineate with it; but its marks are shapes in themselves. To my eye, it functions halfway between line and shape, because it adds to the complexity of the image’s shapes. With normal fine-nibbed pen, the viewer’s brain doesn’t have to sort out two sides of every line; with the brush pen, it does.
    I guess this is my indirect way of saying: I love the instant gratification of fine-line + wash/colour. :^>
    (This is _not_ to say I have anything against your pictures that lack fine line-work!)


    • I’m with you: this month has been an exercise in working with constraints to see what I can learn. The brushpen is a huge favorite of mine and I agree it does a superb shape to line transition.


  2. Christy Lemp says:

    I really appreciate your commentary – these are great. I would love to capture wedding sketches in direct water color but it’s super challenging. Trying to find a happy medium also. How to get those gestures and keep it fresh in a strong image. Aargh!


  3. -N- says:

    Stretching yourself in painting is important – as is practice. And having fun! And growing!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. rhodadraws says:

    Great seeing two versions of the same scene. I love your line-work.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. miatagrrl says:

    I really appreciate these posts in which you are analyzing your processes and thinking out loud. Both you and Marc have had excellent posts this month of this type that I really enjoy. As a casual bystander of 30×30 and not a participant, I think these analyses have been the best part about the challenge (as well as all the eye candy, of course)! Thank you for the thoughtful posts!

    – Tina

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks Tina, glad you find them worth reading: writing them helps me too: art making is so non-verbal that blogging helps me analyze my work and thinking almost like an outsider , which helps clarify some of the thinking/problem solving for me…


  6. Melissa Elliott says:

    I think your subject matter makes a big difference in your time spent. I found that the direct watercolor was faster for me than drawing first and then watercoloring after; but I was a big chicken and mostly did still life-type pieces for the direct watercolor, meaning there was usually a single subject or a small group of subjects, none of whom moved while I was painting them! I can see how trying to do a crowd scene without line would be such a challenge that you would have to slow down. Someday I will get the nerve up to pull out my watercolors onto a restaurant table, instead of discreetly making my drawing and waiting for home to do the color.


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