Wednesday, 10 December 2014

How Easy Is Watercolour?

Most people who take up painting as a hobby remember having paint boxes as children or maybe using water-based poster colours at school and those experiences tend to leave them feeling that watercolours are easy to use. They must be if children use them to start painting! Oils and acrylics are used by "proper artists" and therefore must be much more difficult to use. And pastels (and other dry media) are rarely, if ever, considered as worth bothering with if one aspires to be a painter; an artist.

But once you have experienced those other media, you may well change your mind. Although you may still use watercolour for other reasons such as, lack of smell, rapid drying, general cleanliness or ease of cleaning, it really is easier to paint or create coloured drawings in virtually all other media.

It seems crazy that we afflict ourselves with this difficult to use and almost impossible to correct (yes, there are ways and means ...), But still we persevere.

Of course there are aspects of watercolours which are difficult if not impossible  to achieve in other media. Freshness, simplicity and sheer transparency of the media are reasons why many artists love watercolour. But consider the issues above:-

Smell; Oils are the culprit here, and I have to say that I have never considered this media because I am affected by the solvents traditionally used. But modern water-based oil paints are used by colleagues who find them perfectly adequate and are little different to the traditional paints in their behaviour and appearance. Of course, my colleagues are not "professionals" and some may argue that there is a difference which a real professional artist would notice. All I can say is that more and more water-based oil paints are used by artists in my art group.

Drying time: If this is the issue then acrylic paints are probably faster drying than watercolours, especially if you are using the latter wet-into-wet. We artists no longer have to spend weeks or even months for a painting to dry before we can feel happy about carrying it home.

Cleanliness: Now this can still be an issue for some. If you do not have a studio, or a dedicated area for painting, splashes of paint or pastel dust, etc, can mean that watercolour is less likely to create a problem at home. Plus the fact that there are no issues with additional paraphernalia.

Despite the logical approach, I have to admit that I do love a good watercolour painting and still want to re-learn how to create a "good" painting with this medium. This weeks sketch is another small, 6 X 3.5 inch painting, again I am looking for the use of washes and brushwork rather than being particular about the drawing.

I wasn't quite sure about this piece at first but it is growing on me, any thoughts?

One of the problems I am experiencing is most definitely the lack of time I have to spend painting. Doing only one such sketch each week is obviously very limiting. When I first started painting I remember spending a little time each evening, even if it was only a few minutes, practising some aspect of my new hobby. But that was when I could count on the use of a small, spare bedroom as a studio. My situation has drastically changed and now that room is more like a store room. But One of these days ... , I live in hope.

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