Oops, I Did It Again

I’m hopeless when it comes to watercolor.  Partly this is because I don’t care enough about color but a heavy dose of ignorance about them adds to my problems with watercolor.  So, it’s not likely that I’ll be telling anyone how to do watercolors anytime soon, but I have lots of experience messing up a drawing with the addition of color, so I thought I’d show you an example and let you cast some stones in my direction.  Feel free to laugh.

Here is a sketch I did as we launched our “outdoor season.”  In fairness to me, it was a considerable struggle for me to get to the site and by the time I did my knee was throbbing and all I wanted to do was lay down (grin).  I did a simple drawing of a wooden statue resembling the front end of a ship.  Then, just for background, I did a really spartan outline of the building behind it for composition’s sake.  Then I proceeded to make a mess of the whole thing.

Note that there is no life in those colors.  Note also that I’ve covered the entire drawing with those lifeless colors.  This sketch would have been much better if I’d just left the background building white.  The principle subject wouldn’t have sunk so far into oblivion.  What a mess.  At least it’s an example of what NOT to do.

By the time I finished that sketch I was exhausted, but from the same location one could see the spire of what was a downtown fire station so we decided to draw it.  I was still in blah-color mode but I like this sketch anyways.  Most exciting of all is that we’re finally sketching outdoors.

Stillman & Birn Alpha (5.5×8.5) softcover, Platinum 3776, DeAtramentis Document Black


4 thoughts on “Oops, I Did It Again

  1. I do this too; not knowing when to stop, and not having the sense to use enough pigment to make it pop. I keep returning to Felix Scheinberger´s books for inspiration. In my opinion, he is the master at using just enough watercolour in his sketches. We just have to practice and not give up! I think your last sketch is really nice. 🙂

    • Yes, the “color only a little” approach is one that is hard for me to get my head around. I don’t know anything of this “give up” idea, though 🙂

    • As with most things art, it depends. Sometimes I’ll just start with ink, particularly when I’m quick-sketching. But what I like to do is to use a pencil while thiinking of composition, proportion and location. This prep work not only gives me a more accurate drawing and avoids chasing proportion and location errors while I’m drawing, but it lets me forget about such things while I’m drawing, making the process a lot more relaxed and fun. Here’s how I approach most complex drawings.

      1) Mark the top, bottom, left and right of the drawing.
      2) Block in the major components using boxes, triangles, or simple blobs.
      3) Compare the results to my scene and correct if necessary.
      4) Start drawing objects inside their respective boxes, drawing from the outside in.
      5) Details (eg – windows, doors, etc) until the end.

      6) Caveat: I try to work such that I draw the foreground first, though this isn’t always possible.

      Hope this helps. Those first three steps are often ignored by sketchers but it sure makes a difference. Geometry first, even if it’s sloppy geometry 🙂

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