Direct to Watercolor Part 1 of 4 : First Breakthrough
At the moment I’m out of town visiting the old stomping grounds in Alberta. The next four posts are going to be about a recent three week watercolor sketching project.
The other day I had an abrupt breakthrough. I feel like I’ve changed the way I draw ‘overnight’.
Not truly overnight of course. I know in reality it’s been a very gradual change, two steps forward, one back, taking about five years. But it still feels like a light bulb suddenly went on.
These sketches are something I almost never do. Drawing directly with the brush, with no preparation.
Simply starting with a silhouette in watercolor, and working into the simple shape. You can clearly see the ‘big shape’ of the unfinished neighboring building in this second sketch.
If you’re a reader of the blog, you’ll know I’m all about my under drawing. So this is sort of a big thing for me! I have always felt (and still do) that a painting never gets better than the drawing it’s based on. If the drawing isn’t strong, adding value and tone isn’t going to save it. Quite the contrary – it’s the silk purse and sow’s ear all over again.
Looking at these older sketches from the 2011 USK symposium in Lisbon, I think you can clearly see my love of drawing, and the way I’m using it as a scaffold for the paint.
When I teach, I’m always telling people, ‘Spend as much time on the drawing, as you do on the painting’.
The drawing is the planning phase. Where you establish correct proportions, and plan the big blocks of color. The painting itself is the reward. The brushwork can be light and lively, because there’s no more thinking required.
But somehow today, after (about) five years of drawing followed by ‘coloring in’, I’ve reached a point where I’m willing to draw directly with the brush.
My breakthrough sketches might not seem like a significant improvement. They might even look like a step backwards at the moment. But, in the next three posts I’ll show what I did from here.