2022 in review: Watercolor

My watercolor journey continues this year. I’ve drawn about 50 pieces, bringing the total to over 100. I bring the painting kit when I travel and draw on the road.

I’ve become comfortable with basic watercolor techniques; mixing a different color on top of another color white it’s wet; do the same when the base color is dry; drybrushing. I mostly draw sceneries. I’ve occasionally drawn animals.

Painting watercolor is a bit like playing a tennis game with a mute friend. I make a move by putting color on paper. Sometimes quite intentionally, other times not so much. Water and color react. I observe that, and I make the next move. Sometimes the back and forth goes wonderfully well. Other times, an unexpected reaction pauses me.

I could put up a good fight and still end up going nowhere. Sometimes I could find myself in a “zone” where seemingly everything I do works out well, yet I have no clue what enabled that. You never know what you’ll get until you are done.

That one can do this much dialog with inorganic material is a little bit scary, even. I sense the existence of the abyss. You can really get into it, and you might lose interest in coming back to humanity.

I started posting my paintings to the company slack channel. A few occasional encouragement motivates me to keep going.

One time, I felt using deep, dark, complex colors is key for a good painting. Since then, I’ve been trying to boldly put such colors on papers. Dark colors require mixing lots of red, green, and blue. It’s hard to get the right hue I want, and often I don’t even know what hue I want, but I stopped worrying about that. Just put it out there, and go from there. That somehow works out.

The paint set I’ve been using was a leftover from my daughter’s elementary school. I started feeling the pigments do not activate fast enough to water, making it difficult & slow to create really dark colors. So I upgraded myself to Winsor & Newton, a professional grade paint. The difference is night and day. That I could tell apart good paint from cheap paint tells me that I’m getting better.

Another time, I started feeling water is mixing paint too much & too fast on paper, so I switched from postcard sized papers that I’ve been using to letter sized papers. That also changed the game significantly; It’s almost as if a paper itself became an extension of a palette. I could put a color on, then spread it apart. I can then put a dash of another color, and slightly adjust it, or make it more complex. Drybrushing got a whole lot easier.

I stopped trying to faithfully recreate a picture. It’s OK to create; Move things around, remove unwanted things, paint what seems real, not what is real.

I painted myself into the picture!

I’m getting bolder, and feeling more free. I’m pushing my envelope beyond the rules I unconsciously imposed on myself. Often, it’s rewarding.

In autumn, I started painting scenes from my Saturday cycling activities with a group. I noticed that the reaction from people is better, because I’m painting our shared memory. That made me realize this is a form of communication, in which I get to express my affection toward this group. Photography can only capture what was real. Paintings have a potential of capturing what feels real. I’m imagining that the latter could be so much more true. This is an exciting prospect that I’m exploring right now.

One thing I cannot avoid in pursuing this is to draw humans. That has been really scary to me. It still is, but slowly I’m trying that as well. First, back of small black fuzzy figures. Draw them in color. Make them bigger, with more details. Last week, I painted a whole piece prominently featuring a person from the front.

Next year, I’m hoping to find a social circle of watercolor painters. I’d love to discuss things I think about and feel with other people who are doing this. I’d love to get to know more people.

Water Color

comments powered by Disqus