The month of June is when many watercolorists around the world participate in the 30×30 Direct Watercolor Challenge, created by Marc Homes and Uma Kelker.
Rules are simple: Each day post one watercolor, but no sketching, no inking, no pencil, just straight watercolor. Yes, I am painting a lot from images.
As I am at the halfway point, I can share a few insights now:
1. I need to do juicier washes of a greater size… I make juicy washes, but I make them so dang small. I asked myself why, and I think it s from a childhood poverty consciousness… I grew up with little extra money around the house, even though I grew up in a lovely place. I adored my mother, so I would not tell her what I wanted. When I think about making a wash, I think some part of me gets stingy with how much I make, with the idea that I don’t want paint to go to waste (as if it would), so I do a juicy wash but always too small, and so come up short!
2. I know I love lines, but there is also a component of planning a painting that does not happen in the direct watercolor challenge. Normally there is a sketch that I am working with… an example being the horse images below (not direct watercolor but mixed media). I painted this basic image on canvas, on paper, in mixed media… until I exhausted my interest in it. I sketched it many times with different ideas.
Day 16: Now I am feeling a little stressed, as I have little time. I may just do very fast flowers… Late at night! There is always a good deal of practice in any of these even unsuccessful sketches… In these pansies I went back in and this is always a disaster with watercolor but dang I keep trying.
Day 18: Bleeding hearts remind me of my grandmother. I am not happy with this attempt, pushing to do this very fast and experimented wet on wet and frankly the paper dried too fast.
BUT, the challenge reminds me that we don’t always share our “failures” though we learn from them. In this case, I will try another wet-on-wet soon and see just how sopping wet I can get the watercolor sketchbook paper. Or perhaps I need to step outside the sketchbook for a heavier paper for wet-on-wet.
Day 20: Rainy moody skies looking at the West hills from our studio. Not night, but so dark the lights came on. This is what Direct watercolor should be, fast and wet and in the moment. Thought the colors might be interesting to you all. Happy with this one!
By the way, same colors as the next one with the addition of bright yellow and orange.
©D. Katie Powell.
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