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Stories Behind the Art
My relationship with watercolor has been complicated. I have run at it at least a half dozen times and always walk away, slightly disappointed. For me, it's about control and the willingness to give it over to the water and the paper. I have struggled so much since most of my work is graphite and ink and they allow me to achieve the level of detail and texture I desire. So I decided to try again and it ends up, and I am pretty happy with the results.
All these pieces are done using Daniel Smith watercolor paint, and the sketchbook is a Moleskine watercolor landscape art book. I talk about the brushes I used in the Toolbox section below. Each piece was under 60 minutes and intended to be a quick watercolor study.
This duckling was one that we rescued last year, and we were able to reunite it with a parent. The challenge with watercolor is that you need to move from the light to the dark. This means you need a strategy around what to add and when. I did this piece originally in graphite but decided to try again with watercolor. I brought in a light wash of yellow ochre then slowly folded in some raw umber as well as Payne's grey near the end. I then dragged those colors down onto the rock. The eye and highlighter were last.
These barn owls are based on some photos I took at a traveling raptor rescue exhibit at a place called Parc Omega. We learned so much about these birds and a variety of eagles and falcons. My plan here was to have these barn owls gently lift off the page. It uses the same palette as the duckling but is much more transparent. These birds are quiet in flight, and I wanted the one to the right to reflect that.
This great egret and bunny were fun and based upon some photos from wildlife photographer David O'Neill (@davecathyo on Instagram). The bunny reminded me that I need to get to that book idea that I have ;-) The egret was an opportunity to try a background. I would probably do it differently next time.
Want to see more? You can check out my Instagram, as I will be continuing along this journey and will have some cars showing up in the near future ;-) I am certainly not leaving graphite, but drawing with paint is something I will be exploring and refining over time.
Inside The Toolbox
One of the tools I use most with watercolor is a water brush.
A water brush is quite simply a brush made of nylon with a water reservoir that can be unscrewed and refilled. The brush comes in different sizes and may be quite small and pointed or wide and flat. The kit off to the right has four different sizes. These brushes are not expensive, which makes it accessible to everyone. I have ordered some new standard brushes, but right now, these are the tools that move the paint from the tube to the paper for me. I recommend the Pentel Arts Water Brushkit. Some brushes have trouble with the seals, so don't trust them without some testing.
The Sakura Koi Watercolor Kit is great and was my first watercolor kit. It has a decent paint palette and includes a brush. If you know someone interested in pursuing art, this and a small watercolor book would be a great start.
Recent Drawing Inspiration Episodes
Here are a couple of the most recent “Drawing Inspiration” podcast episodes. The podcast is available wherever you listen to music.
54: Chasing Your Dreams, Animal Crackers, and Painting Every Day with Scott Sava
I talk about an online collaborative tool for digital art and a couple of graphite pieces. Scott Christian Sava joins the podcast to discuss his journey and fulfilling his dream of working on Spider-Man. He then talks about his Netflix movie, “Animal Crackers”. Scott talks about posting and maintaining a daily painting practice on TikTok. Scott shares how he does not let TikTok define him while still allowing it to affect him. Scott then shares how he is leaving breadcrumbs for himself through his work.
55: Creating Fantasy Landscapes Through Observation and Ink with Sam Gillett
Sam Gillett joins the podcast as an early-career artist to share his journey so far. Sam has been drawing for some time but only recently started sharing his work online as well as opening his Etsy store. Sam and I discuss the power of observation and his inspiration for his work. Sam then talks about his recent and upcoming Skillshare classes.
What I'm Watching
My screens have been filled with Norse mythology. Of course, there is the new Loki series on Disney+, which explores an event that may serve to connect the previous chapters in Marvel storytelling to a new one with new movies and new characters. If you are a Marvel fan, I do think this series will be required viewing. It is suggested that episodes 4 and 5 are going to be very important!
Ragnarok is another series on Netflix. When people hear the name, they always think Thor: Ragnarok, but this is very different. Ragnarok explores Norse mythology and its connection to the modern. This Norwegian drama is based in the fictitious village Edda but was filmed in Odda, Norway. I recommend watching it with English subtitles. While I haven't finished season 2, I am enjoying this take on Thor, Loki, Odin, and the giants.
A nature journal is a great way to start if you have ever thought about a journal. A person that continues to inspire me is Jo Brown. Her illustration of the natural environment around us includes everything from mushrooms to birds. Jo came out with her nature journal last year called "Secrets of a Devon Wood". It is such a wonderful look inside her area of the world, her mind, and how she captures the often ignored beauty and magic in the woods. She provides insightful information on various plants and animals, but you can also get a real sense of how she renders each element. When I feel like I am not doing my best, I open her book and feel inspired to create.
If you want to check it out or order the book, click here.