Saturday, March 19, 2011

How I Started Using Watercolors

This is where it all started: 

My love for watercolors... I was about 7 months pregnant and only working about 3 days a week. My girlfriend and fellow artist Kati stayed home with her daughter weekdays and helped her husband by working from home (he is a talented graphic designer). I have been afraid of color for the majority of my life. Art teachers forced it on me, a requisite to complete the class.

If it were up to me, I'd be wielding charcoal and mechanical pencil for the rest of my life, and maybe the occasional ballpoint pen. Those made wonderful drawings on lined paper. The best part was the texture of the inside of my notebook cover. The thick, easily dented surface made my ballpoint rich and every line flowed beautifully. Those drawings were a thing of beauty...shame I never saved any of them. The doodles while pondering the history of the world (ok, not really, I hated history, hence the doodling... I was probably pondering what time I could get out of there).

Okay, back on track... I was at my friend, Kati's house and she had a watercolor set. I had bought some watercolor paper and a few basic materials on the way to her house and we had decided we'd just jump into it. Materials I had purchased were entry level, so I didn't feel too scared of wasteful spending.

Kati ends up playing with a monotone piece (hopefully she'll let me share it on here, I did envy it so) and I had this photograph of an old rusty truck I found on a photography site (another passion of mine). I had previously e-mailed the owner that I thought it was gorgeous and would he mind if I did a painting of it? He was absolutely endeared to have the compliment and granted me full go-ahead. I promised to send him a copy when it was done.

So I start using my cheap, convenience store class watercolors and am able to lay in a foundation of color and create this truck painting. Not bad, I'm thinking... but wanting some richness I start laying it on thicker. I notice Kati has this other set and I ask if I can try them. What a difference! These were oily, not chalky like my store-bought counterpart. The depth of color is nothing like I knew one could accomplish with watercolor. What a difference high-quality stuff makes. I might have been turned off to the concept if I hadn't tried these. I finished the truck piece and, even being my first attempt, is still my favorite watercolor.

So the love affair with watercolor has begun. Thought I might call it a love-hate relationship (light areas are not forgiving if you get dark on them; pausing in the middle of working because it is too wet to continue and I need to add another layer but I have to wait (gasp) for it to dry. (I've remedied this by working on two simultaneously) I tend to work in fastidious stretches, with breaks lasting for days, and art supplies left all awry in the process (as much as possible with a 9 month old couch-surfing)

This is my first endeavor into watercolor. My lack of control with the media has become a bit of a feature I love about it. The dripping of the color on my page worked well with the dripping of rust, and the exaggerated color schemes I have started with this piece continue to be the theme of most of my other work (green dog, anyone?).

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