Thursday, February 9, 2017

My "Take-Away" From Watercolor

I've been practicing the art of Watercolor since last summer. The warm weather is perfect for outdoor painting, especially when I can find a shady alcove to set up shop. 

I'm not working in any sort of conventional manner with Watercolor. For starters, I don't actually soak my paper, I tend to just streak it with a big flat wet brush. When the paper is close to drying, I have planned a loose workflow in my head. Every painting has its own workflow, as determined by what I want to accomplish in that particular setting.  I work direct most of the time, no pencil, just straight brush with color on the wet surface. 

Trees have always astonished me, provoking a sense of wonder for the miracle that is nature. If trees could talk, the stories they would tell. An old, twisting tree whose winding branches reach up to the heavens and expand far from their base like some protective canopy invites me to come near. New York's Westchester County is replete with beautiful trees and landscapes, and provides me with many possibilities. Each painting is an exercise for me. What can I do different from last time? How much tree do I actually need to describe? Would it be useful to design selectively and simplify or draw every branch?

After spending some time struggling with the medium and evaluating my results, I finally understand why years ago friends like Ray Lago (great water illustrator, voice of reason and all-around nice guy) surmised that watercolor may not be best suited for my temperament. Back when I had a partial share in a studio space with him a few other guys, I lacked the patience for Watercolor. Today, I am eager to expand my traditional skills and explore more mediums. Digital deadlines as a storyboard artist have inspired me to step away from the screen and reconnect with myself. I have the luxury to improve, question and experiment - something I can't do when on a client deadline.

My sketchbook is full of pencil drawings I made every day for a month or two, usually after school drop off and a morning run. It's the little efforts that accumulate to a big result. I was able to satisfy the draughtsman in me by doing tree studies in pencil, purely as an observation and note-taking process. With this confidence gained from routine exploration, I was ready for bumping it up a notch with Watercolor.

Being spontaneous is what I love so much about drawing and painting, and my direct approach brings me the most satisfaction. The results are uncertain but captivating. Either way, I am having fun and conditioning myself to associate good feelings to Watercolor. With that reinforced, I'm sure to be productive well into my future journey as an Artist.