I often find that the simpler my subjects are, the more fun I have painting them. They also inevitably end up being some of my best work. I think maybe its because simple subjects resonate better with the inherent simplicity of the watercolor medium. I really enjoy allowing large, intermingling washes to do what they want, to surprise me with their lack of rhyme or reason. I call it the art within watercolor. I will describe my creative thoughts and process in the creation of my painting " Confluence" shown below. ( Confluence suggests the joining of two rivers. Here, the mighty Susquehanna River is joined by a beautiful, trout filled Maryland tributary called "Deer Creek"
During my watercolor adventures, I've utilized a number of different brands and types of watercolor paper. The quality, sizing and texture play a huge role in the kinds of effects achievable with the watercolor medium. I've learned to stay away from hot press papers, they may be fine for intricate, positive shape filling type art but do not allow for the time necessary for the intermingling of hues. Cold press is better but my choice is always the "rough" type texture. I love how you can deftly pull your brush across the tops of the ridges to create fragmented light effects.
The sizing ratio is also very important. Too little sizing or old paper where the sizing as dried out of the paper is also problematic. I've done class demos on old paper only to create a big blotchy mess in front of my students.
My go to paper is the Arches, rough style...I only use 140 lb. paper, I've seen little need for the 300 lb. heavy weight paper however, I can see where this might be a good choice for larger works. My pigment and water mixtures interact predictably with the gum arabic ( and other chemistry) sizing percentages in this paper.
The following painting however, was done on a brand named, Saunders (Rough, 140#). I've discovered that this brand acts quite differently than my Arches paper. I will compare my experiences with this paper in the following set of sequential steps in my painting "Valentines Day".. Enjoy!
I came across an insightful quote from Mr. Mike Tyson, the former heavy weight boxing champion, that I thought was rather appropriate to the watercolor artist. It goes something like this..."Everyone has a plan until they get punched in the face"
For every painting concept that I come up with, I always arrive at the same starting point. A big, white sheet of watercolor paper punching me in the face. Even though I can kind of see the finished painting in my head, actually arriving there is an entirely different matter.
Maybe its just a matter of experience, I’m not sure. I have plenty of experience but inevitably go 10 to 15 rounds with a piece until it succumbs to my vision.
I'll will walk you through my painting "Christmas Tea" from start to finish and try as best I can to relay my thoughts on each step in the process. Lets see if I get knocked out or create a knockout piece!