Watercolour is a feisty medium – I refuse to say ‘difficult‘, though it’s often said to me by those either keen to learn or keen to avoid it. I also refuse to talk about ‘rules‘ because that implies a power imbalance between the artist and the paint. It may begin that way but, like learning the rumba, eventually the dance starts to look and feel more sensual and natural.
I describe watercolour as having ‘characteristics‘ – how it responds and behaves within the range of wet-dry, how the various pigments granulate or stain and which brushes and papers to use is discovered through lots of practice and experimentation. I also spend a fair amount of time looking at other water-colourists’ work and reading articles and books on technique and advice.
This leads me to trying out ideas and materials on a daily basis. My studio is full of these efforts, which occasionally morph into a completed painting. I learn through seeing and doing, but also through risk-taking and being curious about might happen. I do like a bit of jeopardy in my work – if it’s going too ‘well’ I might need to attack it with a spray bottle, lash it with some lamp black or waft the paper about to see what unexpected marks appear.
Like dance, there are unavoidable aspects which uniquely belong to using watercolour, but also the enchantment of interpretation and pushing the boundaries. I hope you enjoy my practice sessions on my new page, Sketchbook 2016-17