Lately, I’ve been interested in painting watercolor without a pen and ink drawing underneath as a way to improve my painting ability. I love pen and ink, but I sometimes find that I use it as a crutch for out-of-practice watercolor skills. It can be fairly easy to make a detailed ink drawing, slap on a few watercolor washes and come out with a really nice looking piece of art. Using just watercolor is trickier because flaws become more apparent, especially when using different techniques such as wet on wet painting.
I’ve found this video from Steve Mitchell’s The Mind of Watercolor so helpful in preventing overworked areas and understanding why they occur. I never took a formal watercolor course, so everything I learned comes from trial and error, instructional books/videos, and even a few kind souls who gently pointed things out to me about my technique. I still find myself returning to some of these same errors, especially “painting in the danger zone,” as Steve refers to it in the video. I highly recommend Steve’s videos. He has a ton of experience and I always end up laughing at his dry sense of humor.
This morning, I mailed my submission to Stratford-upon-Avon, UK for the seventh Twitter Art Exhibit. The organization that is benefiting from the show is Molly Olly’s Wishes, which supports terminally ill children and their families. Over the years, I have really enjoyed participating in the project, as it has given me a feeling of being a part of something greater than myself. I hope to continue the tradition in the future.
About the painting:
I based this watercolor sketch from a snapshot I took this past July from a hilltop at Tower Hill Botanic Garden. It shows the Wachusett Reservoir and Wachusett Mountain/Mount Wachusett in the background. In 1842, Henry David Thoreau traveled from Concord to Mount Wachusett on foot over four days and wrote about it in his essay, A Walk to Wachusett. It’s a really interesting read, especially his comments on the Worcester accent, which apparently was a thing even back then.
This is in the mail on the way to New York City for the Twitter Art Exhibit to be held in March. Proceeds benefit Foster Pride’s HandMade program, which teaches girls in foster care how to crochet and then market their product line.
I based this painting from a snapshot I took after one of our recent minor snowstorms. The sunset was brilliant, with pinks and purples and the lake was mostly unfrozen. This piece is more whimsical than my normal work, and I had fun with it. I used graphite pencil, Neocolor I oil pastels and watercolor.
After I posted my last wip which I was working on for the #twitterartexhibit, I sat down to paint the watercolor wash and had a horrible disappointment. Some kind of gel came out of the tape I used (frog tape) which gummed up my washes and ended up ruining the entire thing. I had to get rid of it entirely, which has happened to me before, but I was under a deadline and I felt under terrible pressure to redo it. Needless to say, I am going back to my trusty blue tape from now on!
I decided to do something completely different altogether in colored pencil. I had stopped working in colored pencil for some time because I was getting a tendinitis in my elbow area, but I worked on this slowly and with a gentle grip and didn’t run into that problem this time. I went back to a common theme: sunset (or in this case, dusk) on a lake.
Colored pencil never seems to scan or photograph well for me and I tried my best to adjust the colors in the image to match the original. The sky has a little more pink in it, but otherwise it is fairly close. I tried to keep a sketchy feel and I am happy with my efforts.
And now my little drawing is in the mail and on its way to Moss.
Preparations for the Twitter Art Exhibit are underway again, this time back in its original home of Moss, Norway. I working on my own contribution, a peony done in stipple, with watercolor to be added tomorrow. The call for artists is available here. Check it out – there is still time to participate!
The charity that will benefit from this year’s show is Home Start (Moss, Norway location). I did some reading about the organization and it has a really great mission. As a single mother, I am so thankful for the support I get from my family and I don’t know what I would do without it. An organization like this is great for families who may not be so lucky as I am.
I will post the finished piece later this week when I finish it up. It should be in the mail to Norway by the weekend…