The Scales Fall From My Eyes

I’ve watched Marc Taro Holmes smoosh color onto paper, shifting colors as he “built washes.”  I’ve heard Shari Blaukopf talk about creating mosaics of shifting colors on a surface.  And I’ve stared at hundreds of Liz Steel sketches (relevance later).  Apparently, I’ve got a pretty thick head because in spite of all this exposure to the concept, I didn’t get it.

No, it took a single comment in Liz Steel’s watercolour course (highly recommended) to get me to rethink watercolors.  I know little of watercolor use but the first thing shown in every watercolor book I’ve read is how to do a flat wash.  That’s how I’ve been applying watercolor…in flat, boring washes.  Apparently I learned that lesson well. But in a single statement, as Liz was discussing mixing on paper vs mixing on the palette, Liz said (paraphrasing), “I rarely use flat washes; I prefer adding texture in my washes.”  This simple statement somehow connected both of my neurons together and there was a flash of light, at least that’s how I remember it.

So, I started looking more closely and practicing the addition of variability into washes.  I still struggle with its application but I was pretty happy with this sketch.  It was an experiment to see if I could put a very textured, high contrast “wash” behind the focal point and sort of gradate both the texture and the color (lightening it) as I moved away from that focal point.  My table light was just an excuse for a background.

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


9 thoughts on “The Scales Fall From My Eyes

  1. That looks fun.
    I love the way Paul Wang lets intense colors bleed into other colors.
    Now you have tempted me to lay out even more money for internet classes.
    Oh my.

    • I love online classes because 1) I live on planet Quebec and there’s not much available here and 2) Art is a thing where being ready to hear something is so dependent upon where you are along the learning curve. Online classes allow me to revisit the subject and each time I learn something new because of 2).

  2. I’ve had a couple of moments that felt kind of like “eureka” too. Part of me is like, “awesome!” and the other part is, “and it took you how LONG to figure that out?!” Enjoy the moment and those gorgeous washes!

    • Hee, hee. Let me tell you a story. A few years ago I made a comment on my blog that I always used first-class sketchbooks. Someone named Laure came along and suggested that it was a good idea to also have a cheap sketchbook because it freed one to scribble and experiment. At the time I didn’t get it. Sometime later I figured out what Laure was talking about and since then I’ve filled dozens of those cheap sketchbooks and I’m the better for it. Learning art isn’t a linear thing and, at least for me, requires encountering information at the ‘right time’ for it to have an impact. It’s part of the fun, but also part of the frustration of learning art.

  3. Creates much more interest/excitement to a simple subject. Keep drawing and experimenting!

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