Thursday, January 31, 2013

Turning lemons into lemonade

"Woodland Stream" 9"x 7", watercolor
Here is my newest painting and boy does this one have a story to go with it! This painting was part of a series of watercolor painting exercises I’ve been doing to sharpen up my watercolor skills. Although I do know better, the complexity of this scene had me crossing my eyes in frustration fairly quickly after starting it. Now I do know better, I truly do. But somehow this piece was going nowhere fast and I was at the verge of tearing it up and tossing it away when a little voice in the back of my head said, “don’t give up on it quite yet…”

I listened. Pulling out an appropriate palette of Albrecht Durer watercolor pencils and some white gouache, I turned both the reference photo and my painting upside down and got back to work. I’m pleased to say that a few hours later I had this painting completed.

I don’t know exactly how I did it, except that I stopped fussing over the technique and just created it like I know how to do. That’s all. A pretty much a miraculous occurrence, but one that leaves me eager to do another painting.

So here’s my take away from this experience…

  1. Remember that turning a photo or painting upside down tricks your mind into seeing the image as shapes only without the added burden of trying to understand them as things. This makes it much easier to interpret complex images like you see in this scene.
  2. Don’t be such a purist that you turn away from other tools, if needed. I feel much more confident rendering complexity with a pencil than I do with a brush. That’s a fact. This image was pretty detailed and I intended to render it, not interpret it as a loose watercolor. Therefore, when I could not create the level of detail I wanted with my relatively unskilled brush, I turned to watercolor pencils which seemed to fit the bill better, at least for me.
  3. It’s still a watercolor! It just was created with both tube paint and watercolor pencils. So ultimately, no harm no foul.

Cheers everyone!

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