30x30DirectWatercolor2019: A roundup

A roundup of my #30x30DirectWatercolor2019 pieces.






21 pieces in total.

My big take-aways and learning?

Working outside my comfort zone
Never a comfortable thing to do, often frustrating. (So many times I wanted to reach for a pen because I know how to finish a piece and keep it fresh when I mix in pen & ink.) Getting to what I can call “done” in watercolor alone often results in overworked pieces.

But, it did get easier to work in big shapes over the course of the challenge. I think there are shape-thinkers and line/edge-thinkers. We all can do both but we are often stronger at working one way over the other. And I’d like to get to where I see/work better both ways, and use them to complement each other. Towards that goal, working just in shape helped.

The no-drawing bit
I never draw a detailed pencil drawing if I’m working in pen & ink and watercolor. But I’ll often make a loose drawing or markings in pencil to make sure my focal points fall where I want them to or to keep things in proportion or just to help compose better. And I really missed what those sort of marks on paper bring to my work. Drawing like this actually helps me paint more freely, knowing I have design and composition figured out.

If I do the challenge again, I’d draw a loose underdrawing. In the spirit of direct watercolor and in a way that won’t confine me.

Not finishing
For once I let a challenge stay unfinished because I needed to move on. It is strange to consider that a win, but I can end up feeling like I have to finish challenges no matter what. Work projects, the fact that I leave on a family vacation in a couple of days, and then to go teach at the Urban Sketchers Symposium a few days after that… all of this meant there were a lot of loose ends outside the challenge that needed tying up. And for once I switched gears and am working on all of that now, instead of the challenge.

And amazingly, it was still a great challenge, one I learn a lot from, and looking back at the set above, produced 21 pieces. 21 more than I would have if I didn’t do the challenge at all.

Many, many thanks to Marc Holmes and Uma Kelkar for hosting this challenge. Both of your work, comments and participation in the online community really helped inspire us all.

How do you feel about challenges in general? Do they help or hinder you? How?
And if you did this challenge, how did your challenge go? What did you learn from it? And will you do it again next year?

About Suhita Shirodkar

obsessive-sketcher. graphic designer.
This entry was posted in challenge, watercolor and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

6 Responses to 30x30DirectWatercolor2019: A roundup

  1. Lee Kline says:

    Good project. How about issuing a challenge on FB? Hoping that one of these days I will get to participate in one of your workshops.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. ekfmef says:

    I really love the direct watercolor challenge, I use it to give myself permission to make lots of ugly paintings on expensive watercolor paper and learn a lot about how watercolor works. In my opinion, the ‘no pencil’ part is a bit misunderstood – I feel that Marc Holmes meant to create watercolor sketches that are shape/volume based instead of based on ‘lines’ . Indeed, it helps a lot to put a rough gesture drawing underneath – in the end you’re still doing the direct watercolor thing, but not ‘blindly’ and still not ‘coloring in a picture’.
    I really like the sense of community that this challenge brings to the urban sketchers community, everyone is struggling on their respective level but we’re still all pushing through, and it’s super inspiring to see all the cool things that other people produce. And indeed, I’m not very strict with myself regarding painting every day or a set number. The challenge is about the mindset, not about creating yet another obligation :). So in general, challenges help me because I meet likeminded people and it’s cool to ‘grow’ together.
    This year’s direct watercolor challenge mostly taught me that the kind of paper you use really matters and that some papers are more suited to it than others xD. And I think I learned a lot about portrait sketches.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Fabio says:

    Gorgeous series! Bravo!

    Liked by 2 people

  4. rhodadraws says:

    You wrote: “… there are shape-thinkers and line/edge-thinkers…” That insight will be of great value in my teaching! Most of my students are “line/edge thinkers”….now I have some language to help them “get into shape.”

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Cora Brown says:

    I feel so much better about not finishing the challenge after reading your post! This year I started out strong, but lost interest halfway through the challenge. After that, I felt like I should be doing direct watercolor, but didn’t want to, so all my art projects suffered. It took all month to do 12 direct watercolor sketches. I experimented with limited palettes, and learned by interpreting the same scene more than once. I made my own 5×5 inch sketchbooks from 140 lb. watercolor paper. It surprised me that I didn’t like the small format book, but I really enjoyed how the Fabriano Artistico paper handled the paint. I probably won’t do the challenge next year, but I am going to remember your comment about shape-thinkers vs. line/edge thinkers!

    Liked by 1 person

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