My watercolor sketchbook is the perfect place to experiment, practice, and learn. I feel like a floodgate has opened. After all the doodling and playing around I’ve been doing, I have a new approach to landscapes. In my sketchbook, I am free to do “whatever.” And that same “whatever” principal applies to light subject matter – like a simple scallop shell or just plan scribbling as it does for the more “serious” stuff we artists sometimes tend to aspire to (re: landscapes). My process for this watercolor journal page was …
- Take a morning walk. Bring my cell phone, which takes awesome photos. Walk meditatively and notice what a great scene is before me, a path leading to a creek in my neighborhood. It is early morning, end of summer, and the light is streaming in. Take photo.
- Go home, notice how gorgeous photo is. Post photo on Facebook. My friends and relatives love it.
- Decide photo and scene could be a good exercise for practicing watercolor with light and shadow. Print out a fast draft copy in black and white and save for later to use as a reference to paint. My color cartridge is out so I could only print in black and white. No worries. This is the main thing anyway. Colors come easily to me. So that won’t be a terrible challenge.
- Early morning, open my watercolor journal and two sets of watercolor paints – one semi good (Reeves travel kit) and one not good at all (a kid’s set but who cares?). Using a limited palette at first of yellow, ultramarine blue and brown, I paint light shades, no sketching first. Wet on dry. My sketchbook paper is thin, so I can’t be very wet. This is unlike when I first started painting again in watercolors back in Feb. 2015 – I’d stretch paper, paint wet in wet and get wetter and wetter and have to use tons of paper towels – and it was so frustrating. I find painting wet on dry suits my style better, and then I can always quickly add another color to the wet wash to get a bleed if I want, without making a big mess.
- After the light wet on dry, I did just as I said, and added a little more wet same colors to deepen the tone, this time adding in a dark green. Then I let it dry a bit and kept darkening up – now with yellow ochre, brown, ultramarine blue, and green.
- Not enough contrast. I build up areas with graphite pencil now. Using a thick, soft lead. I also keep darkening with brown paint.
- Finally, I decide to “Autumn” this scene up with the burnt sienna and another shade of reddish orange from my kid’s paint set. It’s good to go and I sign it.Super satisfying to watch this bloom on the page, and I’m happy with the result. It kind of made my morning and day. And now I have to get ready for an appointment and go off to do “non-painterly” things.
Early on, I wondered if I needed to use better paper, better paints – and I’ve concluded that for me, it’s best to practice with lower grade papers and paints – it frees me up and I really can stretch myself creatively and learn things. Paint is expensive! And I can go through a lot of it easily. That’s why I like to buy markers, and kid’s paints, and use those to play with color and explore. I save money yes – but I feel it’s a great investment in the craft of my work, and that has no price tag. If I need a stronger color, I’ll use nail polish – you know me! ; ) LOL!
P.S. Jodi, thanks for asking about my process!