Every watercolor artist knows him, well I think you should know him if you are interested in watercolor. He is quite a phenomenon in watercolor. His work is very recognizable and full of rich washes with pigment. But behind all that color is a artist mind, that unconscious makes designs and layout in his painting. Well unconscious…., he just paints a lot, and gives many workshops. And its weird but true, from teaching people that can’t paint so well as yourself, you learn a lot too.
How many do not stare at their watercolor on a certain stage, and say to them self’s how must I do that foreground without ruining the rest of my careful brushed painting. Or they are finished and ask them self what is missing. What part can I add to my watercolor that it becomes better and more of a eye-catcher. Well you are to late! The design must be done before you start, the design and layout must be ready before the first brushstrokes.
But..watercolor is unpredictable and just going a other way then you want it to go, then you must have enough skills to follow your watercolor. its got no use to going against it!!
Keep the design intact, cause that is a part that works, its also why many artist make little thumbnail sketches, or a more worked out watercolor-sketch.
Design is something you can learn, to study paintings, what are the lines, why is it work, why is it I keep looking, why does this painting attract me so much?
This week my eye fell on a painting from Alvaro Castagnet, it is a very clever one made.
His brilliant design works here on his best!
The feature that stands out obviously is of course the turquoise roof, from there you are follow the only sharp object on that height, and you land on the second turquoise roof, much smaller but it stands out well, nothing more to see there then blurry shapes but then the light building on the left catch your attention, and the shadow helps you to travel to the street below with zebra-paths and a few cars, people and a red traffic-sign, the small green dots of color leads you to a lighter big green shape that you follow to the other corner, very clever, in that corner is completely nothing. Only shade and darkness. He don’t want you to look there!! He made it easy, there is a sort of stairs of windows you climb to the light above, you jump over to the roof on the right, and that roof is directing you exactly where he wants you to look, the green round roof again! Full circle and you stay focused in the painting.
This is how I see it, there are many ways, and maybe Alvaro thought about it, but I think its more the talent and instinct of Alvaro self. He just paint, and brush down what is necessary to make it work and with a beautiful design! All on his own feeling!
Learn to look at a painting, and your solution what must or what can I do will improve your own work too.
This is one way to look on a painting, and why the painting is working, there are a lot of methods, Edgar A Whitney, Tony Couch and Tony van Hasselt have created systems to value your watercolor on what is missing and what you could do to improve it.
I never did have the pleasure to follow a workshop with Alvaro, but I have his books and a few of his dvd’s to get a glimpse of his magic!
website Alvaro: http://www.alvarocastagnet.net/
I wished I did have half of his talent, I am still learning, and maybe I never learn.
But I enjoy what I do, as long as you have fun, your on the right way!