Living Room 18″ x 18″ watercolor
Now can you see why I love watercolor?
It’s translucent. I can create very light lights, very dark darks and very bright colors. It’s been almost 3 years since I played with watercolor and now I’m remembering what I loved so much about it.
I’ll take you for a walk through the method of my madness:
First I tackle what I see as easiest. It calms my nerves because there are areas of a painting I have absolutely no idea how to tackle. The couch and table are nice big blocks which define the space and allow me to avoid the bouquet which I am still really thinking about…
Next, I go for the pillow and carpet in the back. There’s a lot of detail in these. I will even go on to fix them later, but it still seems like tackling these are going to be a lot easier than tackling those flowers.
Next, I tackle the houseplant. Do you get the sense I might be avoiding something? I lightly block out the vase and sketch the flowers in pencil more thoroughly because I know I’ve reached the point where I have to tackle the flowers whether I have a game plan or not.
The thing I’m so freaked out about is how am I going to paint the green sedum plant?
Now, this might make sense only if you are a painter, but let me try to explain it to those of you who are not.
With acrylic and oil paints they are solid, opaque and you can paint many layers one a top of the other, building up your image. So if I were using acrylics to paint sedum, first I would paint a dark background of green, then I would add the medium tones of green as layers on top of that and finish with layers of a light green. The top layer would be composed of tons of tiny light green dots denoting seed heads.
However, with watercolor it is the complete opposite. The whites and the lightest shades of the green would be created by the absence of paint. Those areas of the painting are simply the whiteness of the paper, not white paint. The entire time you are painting, you need to not paint where you want it white (i.e. the white pillow is mostly composed of leaving the paper free of paint.) So, if I want really light green seed heads, I have to not paint there. That now means I have to create dark areas and medium areas around every single seed head. As you can surmise, that’s pretty difficult. There are thousands of tiny seed heads!
This is what made me tackle the bouquet last. The solution I came up with, was to simply tell the quivering little chicken in my brain to SHUT UP and dive in. I didn’t have an answer, I’m not even sure how I did it, but I got the paint to closely resemble the green sedum plant the best I could.
From there my anxiety quieted down. The little chicken in my brain stopped screaming “the sky is falling! The sky is falling!” and I was able to push on to the zinnias and vase.
The final part for me, is going back through with a clean wet paint brush and “lifting” paint out of the areas I want the lightest. Lift means to pull up and remove the paint on your paper. Take a look at the photo below. Can you see how I create stronger contrast in the green houseplant and the pink flower petals? I lifted some of the paint out to make white reflections.
With acrylic paints I would simply add some white paint to create highlights, but for water colors I removed the paint to reveal the white paper.
Totally, different theories and applications.
Painting can be like a large puzzle that hurts your brain to figure out.
But I have to say, that must be what keeps me coming back :)