Cross Bronx study, 4.5x9 in. watercolor

Figure study, 4.5x9 in., watercolor

Cup studies (from life), 4.5x9 in., watercolor

Study of Railings/Shadows, 4.5x9 in., watercolor

As an oil painter (or acrylic, or pastel) watercolor presents a different type of challenge to me. It isn’t the fact that once something is there, it is there, you can’t go back and change it that bothers me–I don’t do that when I work in other mediums, I tend to paint fast and spontaneously, so in that respect watercolor is wonderful. However, I find saving the “whites” and not getting as intense color as I can with oil to be a bit of a challenge. I could of course punch things up a bit by adding some pastel on top or even some opaque acrylic, but I want to see how far I can push just the watercolors.

I don’t draw anything in with pencil the way most watercolor painters do. I prefer to draw with a brush, and I am used to first blocking in values. In order to avoid getting mud, since watercolor is transparent, I’ve been experimenting with 2 approaches: using the predominant shadow or complement to the predominant local color (for example, in the Cross Bronx study, I used a light purple wash of permanent red and ultramarine to block in my drawing first); or using a light warm wash in yellow ochre (this is what I did in the one of the railings). The figure study was done beginning the way I normally would work in oil, with a wash drawing in burnt sienna. I’m finding the dark neutrals are sometimes more likely to cause mud issues than the colors or light approach with yellow ochre. Of course, this might not be the case in a predominantly dark painting, time for more experimentation…


2 Responses to Watercolor

  1. mercedezhart says:

    I love the color in the rails. I also really enjoyed reading about your process! Great paintings.

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