Focusing on Watercolor

I love watercolor. It is a medium where pigment and water are in a controlled symbiotic relationship. They dance on the paper and blend and bleed into one another, leaving their impressions on the paper. One of the great things about watercolor is that it can be so delicate, or it can be vivid and bold. The challenge is how to find the right ratio of pigment to water in order to achieve these effects.

A wash study using Coliro Watercolor.

Over the years I have dabbled in watercolor. But no matter what medium I have used to paint with whether it was acrylic, oil, or gouache I always come back to watercolor. This medium speaks to me. I feel comfortable using this medium, not because I am familiar with it but in the sense that I can take on the creative challenges that this medium brings me. I am at a place in my artful journey where I have acquired the necessary skills and knowledge to be at ease and enjoy the process and experience that watercolor has to offer.

A wash study using Winsor & Newton Watercolor.

I would like to share my water color journey this year and watch how my progress unfolds. I don’t know about you but learning does not happen in a vacuum. I read books, articles, watch videos, tutorials and take classes to learn a new craft. I also practice, a lot. I mess up, a lot. Keeping that in mind, this is how you learn and it is how you improve. Also, I am not afraid to share my flops, or the work I deem as poop. However I am a firm believer that if you are going to teach, mentor, facilitate on any given subject, you should be able to demonstrate your ability on the subject. So as a learning process I am very open minded to feed back so that I can continually grow as an artist. The only analogy I can come up with is you wouldn’t take batting advise from a football player. (Unless the football player also plays baseball.)

For my first studies, I would like to practice washes. Washes are wet-on-wet techniques that are used for backgrounds or a first layer of color for a subject. It is important to learn the fundamentals of an art form in order build a foundation. I have no problems going back to the beginning and starting over. It is an opportunity to learn and re-learn all the things you might have missed. It is also an opportunity to pick up new tips and tricks you might not have thought of before. I love “Ah-ha” moments. It may not be a “new” idea, but it is “new” to me and that is awesome. I just tuck those new skills in my pocket and add them to my creative inventory.

A wash study using Prima Marketing Watercolors.

I have a busy year full of goals. So how am I going to get better at watercolor? Practice. Practice every day. I think that I will cut up some watercolor paper into 4″x 4″ squares and pick a topic to focus on. For instance, I mentioned starting with washes. I will also take notes on what paint I used, the colors, the brush, brush size and perhaps a little reflection on what worked and what didn’t. I think that is an important detail. Nothing frustrates me more than working with materials that don’t work with me. We all eventually find our favorite brush, pen, marker, paper, etc. I think that is when you know you’ve arrived.

If you’d like to join me in this watercolor adventure, I will post mini lessons and prompts. I was thinking that if I am bold enough I might make a mini video, hopefully not one of those videos that is either way to long or boring or massively annoying. Thoughts, anyone?

I will leave you with this. “Nothing ventured, nothing gained.” I don’t know who said this first but it is true. Here’s to happy painting and an amazing watercolor adventure!

Artfully yours,