I’m not a slacker…I’m just surrounded by over-achievers!

I won’t lie.  Sometimes not very much art happens.  (What do you mean, you noticed?)

Yes, it’s been a while but here I am again – and thanks to this great online watercolour portrait tutorial I’m getting a kick out of painting again.

This image is merely an exercise in tonal values which I found compelling.  Agreed, it is undoubtedly overworked for what is supposed to be a simple study.

I find the tutor, Matt Rota, to be exceptional and easy to understand.  I haven’t even started the final portrait yet and I already feel I’ve learned more in a couple of hours watching his tutorials than ever before.

I’d forgotten what it’s like to be this motivated and giddy about painting…I feel like I could throw off sparks from my fingertips.  A new phase in my creativity is opening up and finally giving it some direction.  Seriously, I don’t know if I can take much more excitement!

Despite your suspicions, I’m not getting paid to drool enthusiastically about this course.

The Fun Never Stops

I hope this finds you dry.  I don’t mean that in an impolite way, it’s just that I live in the new monsoon kingdom of England where pretty much everything is soggy and damp at the moment.

In other news, I’ve started painting again…somebody alert the media!!!

The above two initial attempts at painting this friend of my son left me severely disheartened and frustrated by my dearth of technical skills.  At the end of the process I’d inevitably do something to ruin it.  Without formal training, making progress is difficult but, as someone once said; “Practice is the best of all instructors” so I’ve stopped sulking and here I am again.

Watercolour is one of the most challenging of painting mediums in that it is unpredictable.  The lack of control simultaneously thrills me and scares the pants off me.  Oh yes, I know how to have fun.

The following two studies taught me much about paint manipulation.  When attempting spontaneity and allowing the paint to do its own thing, it helps to be prepared for any eventuality.  Using a spray water bottle and kitchen paper allows for more control, as do loud yelps and sharp intakes of breath, although this does tend to startle the other people who live here.

With this first attempt, the darkest colour was painted first and when completely dry, lighter, transparent colours were glazed over.  This was in response to being educated by my friend Carol King on a fascinating process called Brunaille, except that this is in the wrong context and  I used blue instead of brown.  It was useful in helping me to appreciate the values of light and shadow.

The early stages look better than the finished version – the scanner makes it appear far muddier than the original and the poor girl appears to be in dire need of a shave.The second study below didn’t scan well either (honestly, not an excuse) – it is frankly clownish.Back to the drawing board.  I plan to paint numerous versions and strive to feel comfortable about giving a picture to the model; I can’t seem to quite ‘capture’ her.

Now if only I could channel my inner critic to help me perceive at what point to put the brush down and step away from the painting!  Less is more, stupid! So stop it.  I know you too are guilty of this.

You’re so glad you read this blog post, aren’t you? Admit it; I have enriched your life.