Friday, July 31, 2009

Paint, Don't Tickle

My approach to watercolors is to trust my drawing, then lay down progressively smaller blocks or blushes of color. I try not to blend colors, but rather give them the opportunity to blend themselves. I'll work quickly and wet in wet if I want soft edges, or sometimes I'll veil an area in a thin sheet of water before applying paint. In contrast, I'll work very dry or with a heavy pigment load in the brush if I want harder edges. Watercolor is all about controlling the appearance of edges with varying degrees of water, pigment and evaporation.

I believe this tiled approach to paint application allows for much greater expression and spontaneity. It also creates much more color richness and depth. As each color tile stands on its own and never completely blends with the color beneath it. I can lay down a tile of violet and later cover that with a tile of yellow, and both colors remain visible. But, a mixture of the two is just muddy. I also believe this method creates more of a collaboration with the viewer. You're asking them to participate in the completion of a painting, and allow them to inject a little of their own personality into the work.

It always kills me when I see watercolor artists handling a brush as if they are sweeping the floor. That mindless rendering is the death of both color and creativity.

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