I own several dvd’s from artists that do demo’s. And on one of these dvd’s says a highly skilled painter “When you don’t see the painting before you start painting, you won’t see a painting when you are finished”. So true, but…
When you see the watercolor in your head and your skills are not enough to paint it, you have no choice then practice till you have the skills!
Its hard when your watercolor skills let you down. Everyone that paint in this medium have this experience.
You know how you would like it, and then it turn out bad, cause the pigment is not flowing the right direction, and the mixes becomes muddy, the choice of colors are wrong, but you hesitate to start over again cause the sketch took you so long to make! It’s just not what you expected from your new masterpiece! All of us painters been here.
I am far from a master watercolor-painter, but I am happy that my paintings turn out how I want the last few years. and that is for me very satisfying.
I remember one time on vacation on the Isle of Texel, I came over a dune, and there it was, It was low tide and a beautiful light was glowing over the water and the poles standing just like dark knights out of the mud. The perfect landscape for a watercolor painter. Well for me then!
A amazing sight “I just want to paint this” was my first thought.
And I decided to make a warm looking watercolor with warm purples and a glowing yellow sky. I knew I must paint the poles carefully with my smaller brush, cause I don’t want to ruin the painting.
Till here I thought I saw it, but in real it wasn’t the case.
I stretch down my paper and chose my colors and I came up with a dreadful colored picture that got nothing to do with the picture I hat in my head and it was totally different what I want to express.
But the colors were there and all? How is that possible?
The atmosphere went wrong, the sky is just not fluid enough the poles are not the knights I see in the photo. The dark bits are not helping to make it a good picture. And the reflections are just dreadful! And above all, where is the light?? It is not the masterpiece I see in my head! Very disappointing and gutted!
Now I see my first wash is way to thick and not wet enough, watercolor must flow. I used colors straight out the tube I guess, cause it is really yellow and purple. It’s just painted with hopes, and not with skill and courage.
After a few years, and really at least 8 years I ran into the photo again, and I saw the watercolor again in my head. But now I saw the way to the final brushstrokes along with it, I just knew what colors I want, and the order in what to do first. The wet into wet passages and how I make the poles, the thin lines. More skilled than the last time I was on my way!
And there it was, a cold sky with lots of light, a shiny mud and poles that stood out of that clay and they are like knights, and the reflections just help to make it more shine! And I made it with not much color and just two washes and some details. My skills were improved. On that day I was so happy with my painting. Still it is not a award winning watercolor, but it is the image I saw in my mind for years!
After this I made a few more, cause when you are on a flow, you must take advantage of it.
Maybe a strange story, but it’s true, I struggled a lot. And when I just knew when I started, it took me this long to reach this level I probably never begin with watercolors.
But with little steps you become better each time, and how good you will be, there will always be a better painter with more skills and talent.
But the main case is, just enjoy your painting, take up some advice here and there. Look how other painters make their art.
And really the skill is not in the expensive tubes or brushes you buy, use every brand you are comfortable with, cause the skill is in yourself.
Okay buy good paper! That’s where your watercolor is on!
Color Charts are on my website in the link section.