People always ask me “did you paint on vacation?” and the answer is usually “Oh hell no. I’m on vacation!” Vacation is supposed to be a time where you stop doing what you always do and live a different life for a week.
However, I still crave creative endeavors. Usually, my go to creative indulgence on vacation is playing with my phone’s camera. I enjoy creating a diary of my visit without using any words. A picture says a thousand words right? I don’t need to write a thing. I can look into these photos and awaken my senses to what the air smelled like. How the sun felt. The time of day. The walk I went on. The animals I encountered. They fill me with peace and escape, to a place very, very far from here.
Peonies From My Garden by Mary Ercoli Walsh -watercolor 16×20″ 140 lb cold press paper
I’m not sure which I enjoy more – putzing around outdoors gardening, cutting and arranging the flowers I’ve grown, photographing them or sitting down to paint them. Hmm… I guess the answer is ALL. I enjoy the entire process, every single minute of it.
Below is the progression of this painting. Something to note is that I usual work one area at a time, my paper is usually white except for each new addition. With this painting I blocked out the lightest shades of all of the colors and then went back to darken each place that needed it. The technique is called watercolor glazing.
I know the focus is the giant flower blooms, but my favorite part of the painting is the bananas and their shadows. Funny, I debated even allowing them to stay in my composition, but I am glad I did. The shadows are just so fun and interesting.
Like a true child, as soon as I hit the half-way mark of a painting, I am already mentally thinking about what I want to paint next. It’s almost like I am frustrated with how slow my hands can work because my mind is so much faster. Luckily, I’m a grown-up and I’ve learned the importance of finishing what I’ve started and staying the course. However, the day a painting is finished I am so excited…it means I get to START all over again!!!
For the last three weeks I have been teaching three days a week which has prevented me from getting into the pottery studio to throw. It hasn’t stopped me though. I have been hand-building at home.
Here are pics of more of the shadow boxes I am working on. My idea is to meld the strange found objects I find on my local beaches with pottery. What I hope to come out with is quirky, folk-art looking small works of art.
Here is the beginning stages. Later the clay-works will get painted and glazed. The cigar boxes will get painted and there will hopefully be a few more objects in each box from the sea. But this is a glimpse into the idea phase. I try to find a creative way to use the beach objects. So my ideas start there.
Also my cell-phone holders finally came to fruition. I find these so helpful with 4 cell-phones in the house!
For all you hippies, I had this sweet platter come out. Love me some Beatles.
Painting the image of glass is something beginning painters avoid.
Why would you want to avoid painting glass? Hmm, let’s see. First you need to capture the background which is showing through the glass. Next, you have stems and leaves that show through. Third there is refraction going on, so the stems might appear bent or not where you expect them. Next you need to capture liquid. Is the glass half-full or empty? Finally, you need to paint the glass itself and the reflections that bounce off of it.
So yes. There is quite a bit involved.
I came to watercolor class with everything else painted and ready to go. I also sketched in some very simple guide-lines.
The two glass bottles in this painting were done using two different techniques. why? So I could show my class there are two ways to tackle the problem. I wouldn’t normally do this in a painting, but it does help to show. The left bottle was done with dry-glazing techniques. Meaning I used many layers of light watercolor wash. You use very little water so as to have more control. The bottle to the right was painted using the wet-on-wet technique. I painted the entire bottle with clear water and then dropped paint into the water which makes it spread where ever there is water. The glazing technique gives you a more precise look and the wet-on-wet is generally softer and more flowing.
Now I’ll tell you the secret to painting glass in watercolor no matter which technique you use.
There is no white paint in watercolor. You use the white of the paper. So if you want a white area, don’t put any paint there. However, there is another technique you can use to create white areas. The technique is called lifting. Lifting is when you take a clean paintbrush, dip it in water, take the access water off so it is damp and then you rub the paint away in a particular area. Watercolor is not permanent. You can’t dry it and it’s there forever. In some ways that’s bad, but in some ways it’s good. By simply wetting your painting you can pull up or “lift” the paint off the paper. Now look at the photo above. See all the different places where I am simulating reflection by creating light areas. I rubbed, scrubbed and wet those areas until the paint lifted.
The rest is observation and practice, which for most of us takes a life-time. With that said, there’s no time like the present. Let’s get practicing!