January Watercolors

My watercolor sketching resolution is (thankfully) still going strong. I’m learning and creating on a very rapid cycle.  And now it’s once again time to share the progress!  From here on out, I’ll share the updates at the end of every month.  For January, I created 19 pieces, 3 more than the 16 I was aiming for. I’ve also included more specific learnings under each image.  Perhaps in the future I’ll also drop in some tutorials.  In the meantime, you can jump to the end of this post to see a list of the supplies I’m using.

A huge batch of yellow flowers had sprouted up in the local orchard. I tried to simulate their texture by spattering paint with a toothbrush, but I had already laid down too much base green and no yellow popped through. I was also afraid spattering the already-painted backhoe. Next time: spatter on to a very light base color, and do this before adding any other elements.

Oh, this one turned out MUCH better. I ended up spackling the lower 2/3 of the page after laying down a base coat of bright yellow. I painted the ground and tree on top of this, which gave them their own texture.

The sky was beautiful and turbulent after some weekend storms, so I started a mini-series of studies to capture the changing cloud compositions. This first one in the study was all right, but I wanted to play even more haphazardly with color bleed and washes.

My second cloud study. I love the crazy contrast and extra structure the trees added to the composition. Now I wanted to play more with color variation...clouds aren't just blue and white!

This one is my favorite in the study because the colors and gesture are loose and wild. I had laid down a wet-on-wet wash of blue into pink, and shaped it from there. I do wish it had ended up with more contrast, but, overall, I'll be playing with clouds again!

The flat shapes of the leaves and lemons give this an interesting geometric feel. I've identified that I have trouble with detailed foliage, and there are a few issues with the volume of the lemons, so those are a few things I'll want to work on.

I really wanted to try a night scene, and I loved the view of the Bay Bridge from the Slanted door. The liquid frisket worked well for the bridge lights, but next time I'm painting a dark scene, I'll play with more color.

An uninspired attempt to paint Stephen Colbert. They can't all be winners! But maybe I CAN focus on doing people-studies next...

Supplies Used

This is a list of the stuff that I use both indoors and outdoors for sketch-painting.  I carry all of this around in a canvas shopping tote.
  • Moleskine watercolor notebook
  • Roll of blue painter’s tape, for preventing warp and protecting the sketchbook binding
  • Winsor & Newton Professional Artist’s Watercolor tubes (I highly recommend getting tubes of Quinacridone Magenta, Permanent Magenta, Rose Madder Genuine and Winsor Violet, because pinks and purples are so difficult to mix correctly)
  • Winsor & Newton “University” brushes
  • Paper towels
  • Ice cube tray, for multiple washes
  • Large waterbottle
  • Plastic cups
  • Reeves folding paint palette
  • Old toothbrush
  • Clear plastic/paper plates, to provide extra space for mixing colors
  • Sturdy support board, to act as a table top
  • Winsor & Newton masking fluid/frisket
  • Cheap brush or quill pen, for applying frisket