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#30x30DirectWatercolor2018 Guest Artist Wrapup

July 2, 2018

All too soon it is over! All great things must come to an end. We’re back to our everyday bland lives, with the post-partum, end-of-challenge depression.

Or are we?!?

Of course not!

I think everyone is maybe glad to be done the marathon? – but – filled with a new excitement for watercolor, and – surprised at our own ability to push forward.

I’ve been hearing variations on this theme from all over the world.

Here are a few quotes from our 3000 fellow 30×30’ers:

Hi Marc. I finished my 30th on Saturday. I think it has been a hugely valuable experience – some of the paintings I made towards the end – and since – are things I know I couldn’t have done when I started – it’s had the effect of loosening me up, and making me start to realise some of the possibilities that watercolour offers. So thanks! ~David Clark

That’s about the best feedback we could hope for David!

I’ve begun approaching almost all my other sketches with a brush instead of a pencil or pen! In the beginning, I’d reach for the pen, thinking “It’s okay It’s not for the challenge.” Then I’d say, “Why not sketch directly anyway?” In the last few days, it was only after I’d completed a sketch that I realized that I’d done it with watercolour only – without thinking. What did you do to me Marc? Thank you. ~Cheryl Wright

Hah! Well, of course, you did it for yourself Cheryl :) But yes! It’s great we have this online community to inspire each other.

And of course, this is a natural response from Sandra too.

It has helped me realize just how much I love (read depend) on pen and ink line…this is really hard.. so this is purification through suffering?.. I read that in a Russian novel…I have learned lots (such as ‘where is my fountain pen?” !!!!!!!!!!!!) glad I have attempted it however..thanks so much. ~ Sandra P MacDiarmid

I want to close out with a look at the other five Direct Watercolorists.

I had been meaning to check in with the others much more often, but of course, the Facebook group took off so well, and then it turned out it was next to impossible to do anything ‘extraneous’ during the marathon – so! I’m just now getting a real look at how their 30’s went.

I found the climax of the push surprising. (Day 16 was the ‘peak’ for me). The paintings went in a completely different direction than I expected.

So I asked each of the others the same thing:

“What was one surprising thing that you learned as a result of our grand experiment?”

Maria Coryell-Martin:

1) I surprised myself by loving hot press paper for direct watercolor sketching. I’ve previously had very little experience with it. I love the rapid drying and how smooth my strokes are.
2) I surprised myself by enjoying the rhythm and patterns of architecture. Painting buildings around my town in direct watercolor, I gave myself permission to let go of precision and total accuracy. I loved it and the experience has built my confidence for what subjects I can sketch.
3) I surprised myself by how much sketching I was able to complete while out with my nearly 3-year-old daughter. With her own sketchbook, it’s something the two of us can enjoy together. I have to work quickly and am sometimes distracted by requests to draw kitty cats and polar bears, but much more is possible than I previously realized. <How nice! That’s a great thing ~m]

Uma Kelkar:

Two things I learned:
1) People don’t like borders/limits but do like to have goals. We collected 3000 people!
2) Nobody needs a pencil, everyone can draw with a brush. Everyone. Eventually.
I learned the following of myself:
I am quite disciplined. Without the challenge too, I do force myself to practice – owing to limits of work-life balance I cannot always make it, but I’ve set up systems such that only bottlenecks are my career choices and dependents. Meaning, I am ok, I shouldn’t beat myself up anytime soon. <Exactly! this 30×30 is not sustainable – (for most of us :). We all need to learn how to practice art as part of living. Well done you! ~m]
Liz Steel:

The biggest surprise for me was the fact that the challenge was much easier than I expected. (I achieved 41 direct watercolour sketches – 11 in the last 5 days).

Granted I was travelling so I have been sketching all day, 6 days a week anyway, but I still expected to find it hard. Also, even though I start my sketches with paint 99% of the time, trying to resist adding my beloved lines was hard. However, I discovered that if I ignore the first urge to pick up my pen, then it’s relatively easy to stick with the paint. <Of all of us, you’re the fastest / most reliable sketcher (we have sketch-dueled to prove it, I admit defeat :) But also, VERY adept with line weight and edge variety. It’s impressive how you can add a new thing (tone shapes) to your ongoing process without skipping a beat. ~m]
Suhita Shirodkar:

I guess my big takeaway is: Do challenges that are outside your core strengths! Not only will you see lots of learning, but also, not being the expert means you feel free to experiment and to fail – both of which are fantastic learning experiences. <So true. Like a shark. Never stop moving. Expand the comfort zone :) ~m]

Anne-Laure Jacquart:

I would say: “You don’t need ideas. Inspiration is just HERE, when you pay more attention”.
Before the challenge, I wrote down lists of subjects, approaches, books, or online feeds to browse, I gathered some photos, in the case I would need some inspiration.
Once I started, I barely used anything at all.
I paid more attention, about what I could paint, so, when it was the right moment, I already knew what to do! Or, because I was trying to paint everyday, as soon as I saw something, I decided: “stop doing anything else and paint”!
So, that’s it, just pushing ourselves to think more about watercolor is enough to give us plenty of ideas!!
I am even thinking: let’s play this game even when we don’t paint! This would be my last advice, I guess. :) Think along the day: Oh, this would make a nice painting! – Hey, I could paint this with Green Apatite Genuine (!) – Gosh, this would make such a wonderful negative shape! – Hey, what if I could try to recreate the texture of the sand or rocks with my paints?! – Wow, the light is so gorgeous at this time of the day! – Today, if I had painted, it could have been the bananas on my counter… and on and on and on…
Feeding our inspiration that way, we would never run out of ideas, for sure!

5 Comments leave one →
  1. July 3, 2018 2:19 AM

    What I have learned on this challenge is the less I think while paiting the best the result.It has helped me to improve some skills like negative painting,leaving white zones and ,specially,to be not afraid to paint directly with the brush.
    I usually sketch directly on ink and watercolor,so I have realized how i love the ink!
    Now ,after the challenge Im continuing painting daily ,its a king of adiction !
    Pd: I have started your People in motion course and its amazing!!

  2. Maggie Marszewski permalink
    July 3, 2018 7:16 AM

    I was surprised to actually get something that looked decent without a pencil! A few points would help with bldgs. but otherwise I did just fine. I need these marathons to push myself…thanks again.

  3. July 3, 2018 10:34 AM

    In doing 15 direct watercolor sketches I became more confident painting negative spaces. I also found that I got better contrast between a white object with, say, a dark leafy green background without a black ink line. That’s a permanent change in the way I will approach distant high contrast forms. Thanks for June as Direct Watercolor Awareness Month, if not Achievement Month.

  4. rebeccaoconnor20 permalink
    July 4, 2018 7:53 AM

    Hi Marc,

    Thanks so much for making this happen, from all of the comments and messages I’ve read, it’s been a huge success and has a facilitated the opportunity for thousands of like minded individuals from around the world to ‘ virtually’ get together and paint! Just awesome 😎

    I’ve seen a few posts in the group about continuing to keep the group / community going, is this something that you and your ‘urban sketcher’ community may consider?

    I didn’t manage to paint every day myself (due to poor health) but I also learnt not to beat myself up about that & to make the most of every opportunity to draw & paint when I am well!

    Sounds so simple doesn’t it, from your blog I sense that you can relate to what I’m saying specifically in regards to your father in law.

    I’ve always enjoyed art since childhood, but only in the last year or two, picked up my pencils and paints again as a form of mindfulness. “Creativity improves wellbeing’ art has the power to lift ones spirits” as Mindful sketcher, I get out and about as much as my health allows and paint what I see in front of me, observing all those shades of green, could be considered trancelike! I live in the North East of England, it rains a lot, so ergo everything is very green (despite the current heatwave we are experiencing).

    Anyway enough of my ramblings, thanks again for facilitating the 30x30Direct Watercolour Challenge, enjoy the rest of your day.

    Rebecca O’Connor Aka ~Mindfulsketcher

  5. roxannesteed permalink
    July 4, 2018 9:48 AM

    I found this to be one of my favorite online challenges ever. Even though I didn’t post as often as I’d like to, I did paint almost every day (and some days, many times a day). But by ‘giving up some things’- (pencil &pen) I learned how liberating it was to not depend upon them. My first couple days back into July and I’ve introduced some pencil…it sort of feels odd. I think ‘the new me’ will shake out somewhere in the middle. Perhaps have some pencil some of time, but I just can’t imagine going back to my old ways at this point!! Thanks to all of you for your insights and sharing them!! This has been a real game-changer!

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