Daring Watercolor #16

The scene for my plein air notes

I was up and at my location early to paint, so fun! This spot is about 5 minutes down the road from me and this is the middle fork of the Yuba. A very popular place for the locals to swim and relax.

I am finding out that I love to get right to painting and skipping my value sketches. I have found an alternative, color notes! I also decided to use a different brush, one that I am not quite use to. A brush from England that is a Japanese style mop? I have to learn what to call it but it is made from squirrel hair.

Reference photo
Painting #1

I had so much fun I think that I could had painted all day but then the lighting was changing and I wanted that early morning glow.

reference photo
painting #2

I had so much fun and I’m thinking that I prefer watercolor to pastel for plein air painting. I can’t even fathom that I am writing this because watercolor scared me out of even trying it in the field and I am now saying that I prefer it to pastel? WHAT? Maybe an alien has taken over my body.

What I learned:

  • Don’t feel that I have to depict exactly what I see, a photo can mimic that. I am an artist, bring my own view of things to the paper.
  • Don’t focus so much on how, find out by getting in there and getting my feet wet.
  • Feel the scene, the scene will tell me a story, listen and observe and follow that story with my brush.
  • Don’t be afraid to change elements (motifs) to make the scene to come alive.
  • Learn to allow edges to meld, our brains want to naturally make order, that often can kill the beauty and gentleness of what you are looking at.
  • Learn to mingle colors, don’t try to over control my colors. Magic happens when color is allowed to play on the paper. Goodness sakes, let the colors party!

58 thoughts on “Daring Watercolor #16

  1. Wow, I can feel your happiness and creativity through your images. Both your paintings are wonderful! Love your “learned” highlights. Looks like you are trusting your creative heart more than what your eyes see, there is the magic! I am enjoying the stroked movement in each piece so much, great colors too.

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    1. I have tried and tried but the scene calls me and I think that I like to have that fresh response to what I see. Jump right in, why test the water, you know? I understand the concept for value sketches but I don’t think it works for me when I go to paint outdoors, I have to get on it…now! 🙂 thank you for your comments…..I thought of you and your beach scene and trees when I sketch those color notes.

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  2. I am so happy to feel your happiness Margaret! You did a wonderful job I love your watercolors! And what was great for you to archive this result was your “attitude” letting your creativity be free and spontaneous without fears to change things, I also love that you just painted straight without a previous sketch something that I do all the time! 😉 I also love the colors palette. Beautiful work thank you for sharing your step by step! Yay keep watercoloring ❤ Carolina

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    1. Thank you! I was trilled to say the least…ecstatic being out there, I am so happy to hear that you feel that happiness. I am convinced that it carries over into our paintings. I need to remember to include the colors used. I will keep watercoloring!

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    1. Thank you Janet, I have dreamt of painting in watercolor even before I called myself an artist. There is something about the medium that has intrigued me and it is finally feeling like home. 🙂 I am so glad that it conveys that happiness.

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  3. You prefer WC to pastel???? WOW! Look at you fly! OK, you went from wearing boxing gloves to open, warm hugs toward this medium! I am so impressed, Margaret! And those are just my attitude comments. These paintings are terrific! They may be my favorites yet! So much light and life and JOY in these paintings. You have painted happiness for us here. We feel your joy, your freedom and your confidence! You have definitely moved into the serious courting stage with Lady WC! Could an engagement be far behind? Congratulations! ❤ ❤ ❤

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    1. Yes an engagement! I am ready to tie the knot with Mr. Watercolor….isn’t he just grand? lol I always have dreamt of being a watercolorist for so long and wished and hoped and prayed for it. Well, it feels like the ball is now in my court, I have just grabbed the ball! I feel like I have hit a break through with this medium. Believe it or not, it is going out and painting en plein air that has been my best training tool. I love it….and the fact that I can hike back to where I want to paint. With pastels, I can’t go more than several hundred yards before I am wanting to give it up. Well, I’ll hike up to an eight of a mile but still…..with watercolor, I can easily hike back a couple of miles and that is just going to a scene. Oh my, am I just a little excited?

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      1. Understandably!!!! Breakthroughs are wonderful things! I’m really SO excited for you! So are you definitely in through June, Margaret? Posting some type of painting, or progress, daily? I will do my best if you want to go on! I could use the nudge. Part of me wants to get back to my 100 face challenge. And I don’t want to paint faces lol. But I could always alternate, or just sprinkle in faces. This is so exciting!!! I’m really thrilled for you, lady. ❤

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      2. Okay….so here is a dilemma…usually May and June are the busiest months for me because of getting our place (we have over 7 acres) ready for summer, weedeating, gardening, burning, you name it. I have been putting off a lot of those chores because of this challenge. I will continue on but I have to tailor it so that way I can do it all! I am thinking that maybe every two days do a post? I haven’t figured it out as of yet. This challenge is so worth it, I would never had put myself out to man handle watercolor like I have without it and without you all. I will do another challenge…in fact, every month! June is the month that I am really concerned about. Our temps change drastically and we have watering systems, etc. to get a handle on our season. So, long story, short….yes for June! I have to get it lined up on how I can tackle it all. 🙂 how about you? you will as well, you better!

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      3. OK, well then maybe in June, I could do a face every other day (in a pointy media) alternating with a painting! And then for July I may try and tempt Lady/Sir WC to dance with me all month! (I think of it more like a woman because it can be so temperamental lol).


      4. Yes! I can’t wait for July! alright I’ll hold you to that….even though you said “may” well, I’m ignoring that. lol So, I want to challenge myself to something unique or a twist on watercolor….I’ll think about that (for July). For June, I want to also have a focus within my challenge. I would love to post every day but I need to get those chores done. I am excited! Yay….us! I wonder who else is going to join us? Maybe I’ll do a post soon to ask if anyone wants to join us for a challenge at least for June….and then beyond! 🙂 for a minute I had an image of Buzz Lightyear come to mind…..hehe

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      1. I want to get a couple larger ones now….I think mine is a size 2. I am also wanting to go bigger with my paper and will be slowly transitioning my size as well. 🙂 sometimes working bigger can loosen you up, broaden your horizons girl! lol

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  4. What a wonderful experience this month is becoming for you. I’m enjoying it right along with you. I love all those gorgeous rocks! Painting #1 and #2 both capture the spirit of the place, and isn’t that what you want to convey? Sometimes what matters most in art isn’t what we see but what we feel — and that’s true for both the artist and the viewer. I can’t believe you actually said you might prefer watercolor over pastels en plein air…LOL. I did a double-take when I read that. Your enjoyment is shining through.

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    1. Yep….I still feel that way even after the dust is settling! I have painted comfortably with pastels for a while now. I think that I am doing a double-take as well. It has been a great month and it’s not over yet! I’ll looking into continuing this but not sure about the posting every day in June because of the work load of getting our place ready for summer. I’ll have to figure that out.

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  5. Such a Peaceful place! You’re blessed to live so close to it! I can only imagine how inspiring must be for you. Your watercolor paintings are great. You know…I have an empty room in my house, I’m thinking of maybe, if I should turn it into an office/studio. Your paintings makes me wanna paint too!

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      1. We’ll see! I understand your feeling. I just recently realized that northern California is actually my home now, and I don’t feel a need to go anywhere. I can’t remember when I felt like that. I’ve always had a restless soul. Now, I don’t want to leave, and I like that feeling.

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  6. so very beautiful. and so impressive Margaret! these are really right in the groove!! I can shout out – yay, look what Margaret’s doing! painting outdoors is the way to go to make some progress!

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      1. I’m always going on and on, how much faster one improves when you start going out in nature and painting- from real life. and from the heart!
        you are such a Fine Example, Margaret!!

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      2. ‘losing steam’ …. that sums me up. often!!! lol Margaret – quick question.
        Did you see the 2 ansel adams quotes? on my post? a reader wrote to say, on her computer – the quotes did not come through!!! Thanks! debi

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  7. sjqzoom

    OK – you live in beautiful place – I think it is wonderful that you are getting out there and capturing the watercolours. Be careful of the squirrel hair mop – they are HABIT FORMING!! I love your colour notes – those are very wet washes – wonderful – anything can happen in the wet – nice observations too

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    1. You realize that it is too late? I have already been figuring out which sizes of the squirrel hair mops that I need! I think that I have a 2, I need a couple sizes larger. Any suggestions? Yes, I do live in a beautiful place, absolutely habit forming to go paint but now since I have discovered that mop….oh boy, look out! 🙂


    1. I loved painting those little sketches, you are right….direct and loose. I will continue on with this approach, and hopefully that approach will carry over more and more to my paintings. Thank you for your comments, they are appreciated!

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  8. Pingback: Daring Watercolor #18 – Yuba Gold

  9. Pingback: Daring Watercolor #21 – Yuba Gold

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