It Gets Overwhelming

Returning to watercolor is becoming an obsession, and the more I look at the work of various watercolorists, the more I become mentally deluged with images and colors and styles and painters.  It is a seriously crazy-making experience!  Like photography, most of what I do is really not good at all – from downright awful to meh – but it also becomes rather distressing.  That’s when a break is necessary, like making chocolate gelato or going out for a hike or looking for a new pair of shoes.  Just do something different to break out of the ruts of daily life.Focusing on “direct watercolor” – painting without any preliminary drawings or value studies – is sort of what I am trying to do on a daily basis.  This is from a photo, and the study was windows and reds and buildings.  The proportions are off, and that feels like failure big time.  The colors were all the dregs on the palette, so most were muddy and not interesting, but determined not to waste paint, why not?  I also used a water brush, and that can make colors even murkier if you don’t squeeze out excess water.

Another direct watercolor painting, this time limited to a 1/2 inch flat brush for everything.  The colors are cleaner, for sure, but the contrast of light and shadow are off.  The fun part was learning that yes, you can paint with only a flat brush.

I admit, I rather like this one, because I like its brightness.  However, after I finished it, I got a good laugh over my totally unrealistic chimney (or whatever that thing is) on the top of the building in the upper right.  What dimension is that in?!

I think I am going to return to this one again, as it is from a photo I took a couple of years ago along the coast.  The bluffs are really intense.  The problem lies in rendering the ocean and beach below them – lack of depth and overworking.

This is a WIP – from a black and white photo to consider light and dark.  I am going to try to work on this one today, or the one below, which is from a macro photo of a dahlia or similar flower.   I started this one in my Friday afternoon watercolor class.

Lastly, sometimes just a quick interpretation can give a lot of satisfaction.  There is something about light-colored walls on a brilliant day, colorful flowers – here, a rambler rose – and dancing shadows.  I would like to do this one again, too, on a bigger piece of paper and a more formal and finished work.

8 thoughts on “It Gets Overwhelming

  1. We are always our harshest critics, but I think you’re doing grand, wouldn’t have thought of the murkiness, or the mad chimney if you hadn’t said! 😊

  2. True, we are our own worst critics! Much better to be a bit self-critical than so convinced we are absolutely perfect!

  3. Very difficult to paint something as ordered as a building without some guidelines such as pencil -lines – though I think you did well on the second painting and there is something to be said about the first painting, especially the areas of white paper – it’s just a sketch after all.
    Not sure of the purpose of painting without some framework, though I do play around with loose colour before starting the drawing. I think you’re making life difficult for yourself, but each to their own!

  4. Hi Graham – thanks for the thoughtful reply. I am doing the as part of Marc Taro Holmes 30×30 direct watercolor challenge. It’s hard work but I figure as long as I keep painting, even a mess, it all begins to come together at some point. I will be off for most of the summer and hope to be able to make good progress before returning to my last year in the classroom.

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