Wednesday, 15 March 2017

Watercolour experience - tips and tricks that I've learned

It's been a year when I tried watercolour for my first time. I found a series lectures on this topic on youtube via a great artist by the name of Stan Miller:

The quality of the videos isn't the greatest but the information I think is top-notch. Stan himself is a master watercolorist and I think there's merely no one better...

The main difference between watercolour and oil paint for example is that watercolour is not opaque medium, it's transparent and you have to basically diligently start from the lightest colour and go step by step towards darks. So in watercolour planning ahead is crucial - once you put a darker colour than you've intended in and don't react within 5 seconds or so you can't really fix it. That is the reason why it's one of the hardest mediums to handle.

You always have to be careful and aware about edge work. You have to do it on the go every time you put the color, line, splash of mixture on the paper. There's no way how to fix the edges afterward.
That's the main reason I think that my picture of John Scofield lacking various edges - I was more focus on leaving the highlights untouched - nose, beard, forehead. Next time I'm gonna be more aware I promise!

So in my little step by step pictorial demostration I show you how I proceeded with the portrait of John Scofield - my favorite Jazz guitarist.

STEP 1. Reference picture:

I must admit this picture lacking various edges itself - that is the reason why painting from life is more accurate and you can add more of your perception of the subject. Unfortunately John didn't want to go the the bloody rainy England :-)

STEP 2. Lay in the drawing:

No cropping! I always try to do it freehand from observation. Sense for proportion is like a muscle and it is necessary I think to exercise it whenever you can - If I would be professional artist with deadlines maybe I would have to crop it but if you have all time in the world I suggest do it freehand. It's not perfect but I think likeness is almost there...

One most important thing - in watercolour it is crucial to have this lay in as accurate as possible due the properties we've discussed - no room for error.

STEP 3. Laying in the colours:

I'd stared with the most difficult area crucial for likeness - eyes and nose, then more compelled for completion I proceeded outwards the face. 

STEP 4: Finishing the painting.

- I definitely overthought the background and the three colour is to much. I've learnt from this mistake and I now now that the simpler background the better...

John Scofiel portrait (watercolour on A4 watercolour paper)

As you can see if you concentrate to much on one thing you can lost awareness of something else - I think I depicted the likeness in some degree and the colour and values (which is the most important thing) are on spot. But I definitely lost perspective and some sense of the form in the picture (feels flat) and as I've said edge work is not something to brag about also. 

It's been a year since I did this one so I hope that I've made a significant progress along past 12 month and my work is better now. Although I'm more focused on oil painting...

Have a lovely state of being, Petr

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