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Time to revisit an old friend

"Spring Canopy", watercolor

This art journey has some surprising twists and turns. I started out my artist life painting in watercolor. Through a series of events that are not part of this story, I made the transition to working in pastel. It became a love affair with pastel. I love everything about it. The immediacy of working with it. Not having to wait for anything to dry. (That’s a big one!) The multitude of pastel sticks in a delicious assortment of colors. I could go on.

But the point of today’s post is an urge bubbling up to the surface to once again work in watercolor. It started a while ago. I would dabble for a few days and then be delighted to get back to my pastels. But the urge keeps returning. So I played around a bit the other night with my watercolors. Many of the tubes have dried out, but I managed to resurrect a few to satisfy my urge. They were not my ‘go to’ colors, but that made the experimentation even more fun. I was using colors that were out of my comfort zone. And I still was having fun.

"Turquoise & Terra Cotta", watercolor

Now here is the part that surprises me. In my former life as a watercolor artist, I painted very traditional realism. I would admire the loose watercolor

paintings of other watercolor artists, but I just couldn’t get myself to paint that way. Tight realism was the way to go for me. I needed to control what the paint was doing. In my experimentation the other night, I started out with a loose abstract play of color with the plan to use it as an underpainting for a pastel painting. Somewhere along the way, I no longer wanted to cover up those beautiful patterns of color that had been created as the wet paint met the wet paper. You can’t plan those. It is just what happens when wet color meets wet paper and the physics of it creates these beautiful color minglings. I attempted to add some pastel, but I just don’t want to cover up the watercolor base.

A new direction?

So what does this mean? I don't have an answer. It could just be a need for experimentation. It could be a new direction in terms of underpaintings for my pastel work. I have done watercolor underpaintings before with good results. It could mean a new direction entirely. Time will tell. Most importantly it is a revival of the excitement I felt so many years ago in an elementary art class when I was encouraged to explore color and watercolor itself. And that is what started this journey of being an artist.


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