So, yeah, I’m working on watercolors this week, primarily for the DAC (Dublin Arts Collective) Watercolor Show in September. I entered 3 works.

First, let me say THANK YOU to the incredible Ernie Vigdor for giving me more watercolor paper blocks! Now I can work on 3 or 4 paintings at once.

How I Paint

Detail from “Incoming Fog” in the early stages. Absolutely no watercolor pencil or pencil. Only brush and a light wash to sketch in the picture.

I am classically trained in watercolor at University of California, Santa Cruz, and this is what I learned from my professors:

  • Save my whites
  • Gradually build up my darks, and
  • Lay down the colors, gently.
  • Not to try to erase or rub out mistakes
  • Never use a pencil to sketch your drawing,
  • Blot your brush before touching the paper.
Detail of “Milpitas 2040”. The watercolor paper is buff-colored, not white, which presents a challenge.

A good brush (Windsor Newton, Series 7 is my fave) will give you a fine line with consistent flow of watercolor, without stray hairs or unexpected blotches. The quality of the paper is personal: some like texture, others want super smooth. On the blogs and Facebook Groups I follow, artists will frequently include the paper brand and type on their posting: it matters. Personally, I love any paper that can absorb the 100 washes I lay down. I am not into Yupo paper at all. Using watercolor paper in blocks help reduce the buckling. Using artist (painter’s) tape to create borders is nice, but watercolor can and will bleed. I have used masking ONCE (to preserve the whites). It was nice, but I felt like I was cheating.

These are my preferences in watercolor painting. I have seen all these rules bent or broken with stunning results. This is just how I paint.

Quick sketch using watercolor while on the phone with my sister.

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