I powered through the leaves in one evening. Painting the bigger areas was both intimidating and fun. What was most important to me was getting the contrast right between the leaves and the petals. I wanted the leaf on the right to be really dark.
What I learned:
- water control: I’m not great yet but practice makes better.
- on the leaves: using the side of the brush is great for making the edge smooth
- I want to do more of these small pieces just to keep working with watercolor
- I want to try 100% cotton paper
Woo! Hoo! Two weeks later, I finished the petals. I started on September 12.
What I learned:
- Mistakes are not dealkillers. I used to think watercolor was really unforgiving compared to oil. But I’m amazed at how much I was able to correct things I wasn’t happy with — the way you correct them is just different than oils. So phew, that makes the medium a lot less frightening!
- I learned how to take my time. I didn’t rush the process. Just an hour every day, slow and steady. That’s another thing I really liked about watercolor: I could stop and come back to it a day later or a week later and that was probably even better than trying to finish it in one fell swoop.
- I liked how “effortless” it was — the brush is light, the board is light, the paper is light, there’s not much paint. Again, there’s something about oils as much as I love it, it’s so arduous and big and heavy.
- I noticed how much tension I was holding in my hands/fingers and when I let loose of my grip, my strokes actually came out better, like just “brushing” the surface, literally.
- I re-learned how to “see” again — how to look really closely and notice how light and shadows make edges. That was fun.
Okay, moving on to leaves….
I’m using this project as a warm up and brush control exercise before I work on a personal piece. This process seems to be working. I think I’ll keep doing that — keep two projects going at the same time.
I’m also pondering size. I want to work bigger than this but this 8.5 x 11 size is really manageable — I can turn the board really easily when I need to for controlling edges and water. But as far as finished pieces, I’d like to get comfortable with up to 24 x 36. I’m getting ahead of myself tho. Focus.
Adding the deeper values on the right side is helping “shape” the flower. This assignment like a puzzle. I’m hyper focused on rendering each petal to match the image. It’s only when I step back to see the overall form that it starts to come together. Whereas if I were painting in oil, I would be focusing on the large shapes first before diving deep into the details. Hmmmm. Is that the medium or is it because I’m not making the big decisions for this assignment — just rendering or is it this particular approach to watercolor?
I think with oil I can keep painting over forever so that helps. And the transparency of watercolor means I’m layering up from light to dark so it’s totally different. It’s kind of like a print in that I have to flip the way I’m planning a piece. Some people just totally go with it though and don’t plan.
What I learned:
- It’s hard to get the dark parts down and have them blend. I end up pushing pigment around and it gets splotchy.
- I wet the paint to get a damp enough brush to paint smoothly but then it’s not dark enough. I guess I can just glaze but if I glaze on top of a really saturated area, it re-wets it and then that pigment gets pushed around too. Hmmm.
What I’m discovering:
- It’s easy to fall back into habits of going back into wet areas to adjust things.
- I don’t have the exact colors that are prescribed in the class. I’m missing that bright bright pink.
- It would make easier on myself if I didn’t skimp on the drawing.
- I have a tendency to pass the buck down the line. For example, “I can’t figure that part out. I’ll deal with it in the painting stage.” And that makes the painting stage trickier.
What I learned:
I couldn’t protect the highlights in the center. Even if I kept it dry and did the softening edges technique with the damp brush, it eventually spread to the center. If I had to do it over, I might use the masking fluid.
Here’s where the rubber meets the road, where color mixing + water control + brush handling = actual painting! I’m learning so much, where to even begin?
I don’t want to think about drawing, composition, etc. yet so I’m following along with Louise de Masi’s Master Watercolor Techniques class on Skillshare so I can focus on painting technique.
Notes to self: I’m using Fluid hot press 140 lb. paper. Louise recommends a lot more brushes but I found that I could get into the teeniest corners as well as cover a whole petal with my #8. I used the flat bristle brush as she instructs, to clean up edges and mop up paint for highlights.
What I learned with the first wash:
- I need to learn exactly how wet to get the paper before applying a wash. This does depend on the paper.
- If the water is puddling on top then it’s more likely that the edges will be feathery because the water will move outside of where I applied it so I’ll have to clean up the edges.
- I can use a damp stiff flat brush to clean up edges.
- I can control the softness of an edge in different ways — I experimented with all sorts of techniques in this first stage
- I can extend the drying time by “massaging” the water (Maria Raczynska) into the paper.