Maybe you know how much I love working with watercolor. It is a simple technique, but harder in practice because its strength lies in the immediacy and sureness of apply. It requires greater concentration and even more rapidity of action. In my opinion, watercolor is the art of lightness. Beloved and practiced by many artists of the past as a preliminary study of great works or memory in the form of sketch caught on the fly to freeze impressions and colors otherwise impossible to save, has anticipated in many of them the contemporary taste of sketching or quick rendering. Albrecht Durer, Francesco Guardi, Giovanbattista Tiepolo as forerunners of modern concept artists …
That doesn’t mean you cannot try the first time with satisfactory results, even for a beginner, but it should not be underestimated and you need a more meditated, more planned approach than the other artistic techniques.
Reserve white of the paper
Reserve a lot of white, that is, see a lot of paper. The watercolor paper is like light for photography. it is not only the support of your work, but the purpose of the work itself. The work will live thanks to those whites around which the watercolor will take life and shape. Paraphrasing that famous phrase on sculpture, which said to “Only remove everything that does not resemble my statue” in the case of watercolor we could say to “paint everything around my lights”.
Work with the largest brush
More larger the brush, the more skilled the artist said in the academies, arguing how important it was to be able to make the impression of reality using a few essential but “wide” touches, avoiding to work immediately to details and working above all for the masses. The small brushes – like the details – come to an end, with the rough-hewn finished, in the defining phase with the final touches and the dark maxima.
Use a lot of water
Do not be afraid to use a lot of water. Especially in the initial phase funds, bases and drafts require large and rapid coverings or – as they say in jargon – “wash” with plenty of water. The brush must therefore be able to retain all the water necessary to not dry up in the middle of a sea or a sunset sky. Even if the wet brush can give you the feeling of better controlling a vehicle that is new to you, you are doing wrong technique. The watercolor will never be controlled by anyone!
Let it free to run
Let yourself be carried away by its nature. Watercolor is able to give you extraordinary emotions if only you will be able to abandon yourself to its unpredictability and intolerance to all sorts of control. It will make work impossible if you try to force the course, but it will surprise you if you let the color flow freely between its scrolls, on the still wet paper, one inside the other. Touch it once and let it dry immediately. You will appreciate how (and well) worked that little break for you.
The art of lightness
To better understand the meaning of my words, try looking at the watercolors of John Singer Sargent. He was so much skilled, that’s true, but if he loved his watercolor so much that he always brought it with him, that means he appreciated its free and surprising nature more than any other. Every little uncertainty of the great master became a discovery, he always allowed himself to be “kidnapped” by his independent and light character.
Are you interested by water-based techniques? I hold courses and workshop in Florence for any level and any time. No prerequisites. Send to me a message here to know infos and prices.