17 July 2014

Watercolor Attempts: Mountain Memories

I mentioned last week having the opportunity to paint out in nature and that I would share the little work that I created. This is it. I am no trained watercolor artist! This was painted with two wonky brushes and a little grade school quality watercolor kit. So I didn't have a lot to work with, but it was really fun to challenge myself to see what I could do with what I had. No great expectations.

But in the end I kind of like it and it is very sentimental to me, imperfections and all. This piece is small. It's about seven inches by five-and-three-quarters inches. At the end of our watercolor session all three families and our two guides shared their watercolor creations of their favorite things about our trip. It was fun to see how different everyone's art was. It was fantastic to see each person's individuality from little six year olds to grown parents represented in their painting.

After looking at my photos from our trip over and over again, the visions of those beautiful mountains are still so fresh in my mind. So I pulled out my watercolors over the weekend.  I attempted another piece with a nice selection of great brushes, a more restricted watercolor palette to work (unfortunately) and a much larger sheet of watercolor paper (15" x 11"). I think this one is still a work in progress, I think it needs more color variety and some fine detail. I realized it's good to stop when you lose your vision for the piece and then give yourself a chance to go back and look at it later and make small adjustments as needed.

All the while I was painting I was hearing my sister who has cultivated a lovely watercolor practice saying to me, "A dry brush removes paint." I heard her say this a few times while we were working on a house painting project for my other sister recently. I actually used that technique to my advantage several times while working on this piece to remove paint in places where I realized it was a mistake.

I think I need to go back in and add some patches of wildflowers and snow, maybe a little more brown soil, etc. I had to try to make my own brown for this one, because I didn't have one, so it all turned out a little too gray looking. I see myself sneaking down the street with coupon in hand to my local craft store for a basic watercolor kit in the near future. I worked on this for quite a while to get it to this point and learned a lot of lessons about water and paint while I was doing it.

I think my best lesson from trying this again was that I could repair mistakes by removing paint or going in and adding more paint or washing areas out with a little more water. Still lots to learn but for someone who has had no watercolor training since Mr. Harward's 5th grade class, it was fun to just try and play around with the paint a bit.

I find so often when trying things I'm not very good at that just having the patience to try again and not put pressure on myself allows me to get a little better each time. So I think I will keep watercoloring when I am in the mood and see what becomes of it. No pressure. No competition with anyone else. Just a fun hobby to play around with.

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