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My Goals for #30x30DirectWatercolor2019

May 22, 2019


I’ve been thinking about my goals for #30×30.

If any of you guys are participating this year – maybe you are also planning right now?

It’s an interesting working model – a 30 day marathon. A self-contained chunk of time. Significantly longer than a week-long sprint (for instance #OneWeek100People). 30 days is long enough to complete something major, but short enough that you can pose yourself an interesting (risky?) problem. Maybe one that won’t have a solution. Or won’t become the mainstream of your art practice.

If you succeed – great. If you fail – ah well, not the end of the world. :)

Photo 2019-05-02, 8 46 56 PM

To that end I’ve set myself some simple-but-ambitious goals for #30x30DirectWatercolor2019.

  • Main Goal: Paint 30 watercolors in a new body of work, with a consistent theme/style. This is going to be the next logical step for me and Direct Watercolor. I’m working in the studio, as opposed to on location, working from invented compositions rather than life, and, working with larger brushes and pre-mixed paint, as opposed to my plien-air field kit.
  • Bonus Goal: Extract two pieces to enter into our national competition (CSPWC) which happens to be due at the end of June.
  • Double Bonus Goal: Produce a monograph about the project. Kind of a companion pice to the first Direct Watercolor book, but even less of an art-instruction and more of an art-art book.
  • Prep Work: (Already Complete!) This year I wanted to be ready *before* the first day with at least 30 preliminary sketches. (Final set is somewhere around 45). I chose to make monochrome studies – sometimes called Notan sketches. Though a true Notan is pure black and white (with no halftone) I’ve allowed the colors to smudge. I did these sketches digitally, (Procreate on iPad) in order to work rapidly, and with the ultimate in flexibility.

Photo 2019-04-29, 7 17 11 PM

Ok! That’s my plan.
What about you guys – does anyone have a specific project this year?

It’s ok if not. “I just want to do 30 in 30” is totally fine :)

But if you *are* doing something structured please drop me a comment or email – it’ll be interesting to hear what people are up to. I would like to keep track of any interesting slash ambitious projects.

Our co-moderator Uma Kelkar has a very interesting project which she is calling VIVIFY. This is going to be a scientific study into the effects of music on painting. Do you listen to music? or paint in silence? I personally listen to podcasts when painting. A habit I picked up from my days as a digital illustrator. But – I’m participating in the study myself and I’ve been assigned to the silence group! It’ll be interesting to see how that feels.

If you want to find out more – or volunteer to join the study – check out her project notes.

Ok – see you next weekend for #30x30DirectWatercolor2019!


Photo 2019-05-02, 8 46 55 PM

31 Comments leave one →
  1. May 22, 2019 11:53 PM

    I wish to Hell I understood anything of what you just said. ????

    Sent from my iPhone


  2. John Noordermeer permalink
    May 23, 2019 1:18 AM

    Ok I like it. The paintings have impact. Very different from what you usually produce which is good but a different style all together.

  3. Grace permalink
    May 23, 2019 8:03 AM

    Marc I am gong to do the challenge but don’t know how to post. Can you help me out. Thanks grace

  4. Denise mckenna permalink
    May 23, 2019 8:15 AM

    My goal to do portraits and people. I usually paint on location and landscapes so this will be my challenge.

  5. Liz Scotta permalink
    May 23, 2019 9:13 AM

    Hi Marc,

    My goal is to do a 3 x 5″ watercolor travel sketch – with or without pencil or lines of each day of June. I’ll be traveling in Italy & France. Your work is wonderful.
    Liz Scotta
    San Francisco
    author of My Sketchbook of San Miguel de Allende

  6. May 23, 2019 10:46 AM

    Thank you for this challenge, my second. I intend to focus on portraits, pets or people. Painted from life or photos. And to LET IT DRIP!

  7. mlaiuppa permalink
    May 23, 2019 2:40 PM

    I think I may take page from my friend John’s book. Last year he took a large piece of watercolor paper, divided it up with tape into 30 boxes and painted the sky each day. I need practice on sky and clouds so I might just take that on as my goal. I will have to cheat and use some photographs as the sky tends to be a uniform blue or a uniform gray this time of year. But I don need practice with clouds.

  8. May 23, 2019 6:43 PM

    wow, that’s a big challenge both you and Uma have set yourselves. Looking forward to following along. Me, I will put paint directly to paper as often as possible in June. I’ll be pleased if I get near 30!

  9. Leslie Bowers permalink
    May 24, 2019 9:10 AM

    So happy to be part of this group! Caring for my elderly mom, I don’t get out to paint with groups any more. In this challenge, I am focusing on doing all monochromatic paintings. Hope I get to 30!

  10. May 24, 2019 11:37 PM

    I have been so stressed and slammed with deadlines and death, and am trying to come back into myself. I’m committing to 30×30 but it will be what it is — every day.

    • May 30, 2019 10:51 PM

      That’s absolutely a fine way to do it. Just paint, no plan needed. Nothing wrong with that :)

  11. Carmela Sunnyvale permalink
    May 25, 2019 12:03 PM

    WOW! I think that the Notan paintings are arresting–so fresh and unstudied looking. Thanks for inspiring us. I’m having trouble mentally gearing up for the challenge. But I did try dividing paper up into 30 sections in March and painted the sky. It was amazing how it changed each day –even when it rained or was cloudy about 35 days in a row! So I might try that again, but pick a different subject or random subjects.

    • May 30, 2019 10:52 PM

      That’s two of you talking about this sky exercise. That sounds like a great project. A sky can be just paint right? Lets you focus!

  12. May 26, 2019 3:34 PM

    I’d be interested in viewing a time lapse video of your prep digital sketches in Procreate.

    • May 30, 2019 11:15 PM

      I do have some but I have to figure out the best way to post. Soon!

      • June 1, 2019 11:21 PM

        I’m taking to heart the Notan method you’ve introduced. I’m trying out watered down Sumi in a water brush, watercolor in a neutral gray, and digital, as a lead up. I read that the TOMBOW brush marker is good, and may pick up a couple. Not sure how digital or marker brush would qualify for the 30×30. Not sure of any of it! I’m framing the exercise as a learning experience, what ever the tool. I love the sketches you’ve created.

  13. Leonor Janeiro permalink
    May 27, 2019 3:37 AM

    My project is to paint waves and clouds as I live next to the Atlantic coast. I want to improve my skills with direct watercolor. I’ll to do many of the watercolors on site. If l knew better how to manage “Procreate” I could do some experiments, but…..
    Hope to have some fun

  14. May 27, 2019 9:52 AM

    I’ve decided for the 30 in 30 I’ll be studying the work of Paul Gauguin…a master of color who’s work reminds me of stained glass. Of course he worked in oils…so the translation to direct watercolor should keep my interest. The work will be quite small in scale in hopes of getting the 30 complete…with perhaps the last few being my own designs using what I learn from the first.

  15. Caroline permalink
    May 27, 2019 6:19 PM

    I’d love to use your notans as a starting point if that is ok?! I thought I would do Figurature but these have inspired me!

    • May 30, 2019 11:02 PM

      O hey, well why not? I didnt think about it that way but I am sure yours would be different than mine so why no! Feel Free!

  16. May 28, 2019 1:25 AM

    Last year was my first year and I managed about 27 I think. Re: a theme this year, I am thinking I might really challenge myself….2 things I struggle with are dwc and portraits, so I think I’ll attempt 30 dwc selfies. 🤯

  17. Christine permalink
    May 30, 2019 8:43 PM

    Traveling in France and staying in medieval villages. Perhaps my challenge will be to direct paint stone work, wood and metal items from the skinny streets. Why not? Also using a minimal palette. Thanks for the idea to set a working path for oneself.

  18. June 3, 2019 8:44 PM

    I am looking forward to following your personal challenge Marc as well as undertaking my own. I am a watercolour beginner and think this challenge will be a great way to develop my painting skills. I have set the following as my challenge:

    Main Goal: To direct paint 30 mini portraits using watercolours and no underdrawing. I am going to try and paint the ‘Sktchy Daily’ each day.

    Bonus goal: To add some direct paint exercises to my daily workout (ideas/links for where to find exercises for this gratefully received)

    Double Bonus Goal: To gradually replace my current cheapo paints and tools with better quality ones (hopefully I will get some ideas for these through other peoples posts).

    • June 3, 2019 9:53 PM

      Best of luck Shar! Don’t it too seriously :) As a beginner, it can be daunting. But just pat yourself on the back that you are doing it the hard way :) (Direct!) It really is the way to grow as a painter :) If you find it all too much – it’s ok to go back to a little bit of line. I say, just avoid feeling like your coloring a coloring book, and then you’re probably fine :) Take a look at this old post for a tip on using line, while not using line ;)

      • June 3, 2019 10:18 PM

        Thank you so much Marc for your feedback. Funny that you should mention the ‘colouring book’ approach – that’s exactly it! For this challenge I want to give watercolour the opportunity to be the hero; lets see how that evolves :D


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