What is totally cool about stepping out to plein air paint with another medium is that all the areas that I have painted before in pastel feels fresh and new with watercolor. This particular spot I have never been able to take my pastels because it is close to a mile from the road. Too far to pack in heavy painting equipment, with watercolor everything fits in my backpack.
What was even nicer is that I used the river for my water source, so in actuality my painting of the river has the river in it, what an awesome feeling.
Here we go, I am cheap so I re-use watercolor disasters and paint on the other side of them. I always use artist quality paper and paints; in this case, Arches 140# and Daniel Smith paints, my favorite.
These two little paintings are approximately 5 1/2 x 7 1/2 inches and the first layer. I simultaneously painted two….work on one for about 15 minutes, go to the other and eventually when one is almost dry or that perfect window of opportunity is open, I would dash in a color.
My close to complete paintings. I decided to leave them alone because they were really just “warm-ups”. I was raring and ready to go to a larger painting (11 x 7 inches).
I totally got into this experience, I had a great attitude and none of that poor me, I just wanna paint in watercolors, why isn’t it doing what I WANT! I’ll put a list at the bottom of this post what I learned from this experience.
I loved this session, I was so excited I felt like a little kid again, I didn’t count on that happening. I was planning on having a difficult time because after all, it is watercolor and based on my atrocious paintings from Daring Watercolor #1 post, I was expecting the same. I think that I misjudged watercolor and I misjudged myself, ha!
My thoughts are as follows:
- Attitude is everything (well, almost). I decided to give up berating myself today. A person cannot work under such conditions. An invisible person standing over you with a whip in hand.
- I gave myself permission to simply learn, you can’t beat up a student, there are moral and legal laws against that! As long as we are always learning, we are students, just at different levels.
- Don’t try to control (obsessive and unrelenting) watercolor, you can guide it to do what you want but allow watercolor to do its thing. It can be viewed as though you are in a “partnership” with the medium. It is an adventure, be a serendipitous partner.
- Don’t worry about depicting exactly what you see because frustration is just around the corner if you follow every nook and cranny. This is especially true while painting en plein air and especially with an adventuresome medium such as watercolor.
- Alternate light and dark, cool and warm for bringing excitement into the painting.
- Wait for the painting to show you the focus or motif of interest. Ultimately it is a sense of feeling, emotion or atmosphere that is the focus. Follow the lead of the painting.
- Find the attitude and slowing down to the point that when you paint you are in that item you are painting, such as a rock or tree. You allow yourself to feel the subject to the point that you are simply “building” your painting, therefore you bring it to life. Watercolor is fantastic for this, even more so than soft pastel, what an amazing discovery for me!
- Take breaks often, step away in order to keep your eyes fresh.
- Don’t fight the experience or worry that it won’t happen. Find your way into the experience, relax, it will happen…hopefully. If it doesn’t, no loss. Maybe next time, there will always be a next time.