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Day One : #30x30DirectWatercolor2019 : Stormy Skies

June 1, 2019

Ok! Here we go with thirty paintings in thirty days! Wish me luck and you’ll have that goodwill back in spades for your own painting marathon :)

This was my very first sketch. It was the first idea for the entire series, containing everything all in one painting. The massive black shapes, the high contrast glints, in a way, this is the first drawing and the best one in the series.

At this point I’ve done 45 or so black and white digital sketches like this, and am just starting to translate them into watercolor. I’m very interested to see what actually happens. My hope is, I can take these black and white shape sketches and add color instinctively. With no plan when I start, just instinct.

It’s quite a gamble, to do the entire project based on this theory :)

That’s probably why I did three versions of this right off the bat. All painted on the same day. These cloudscapes can go pretty quickly. There’s so little drawing to do, I can simply start filling the page with color.

Each one of these uses wet-on-dry painting. That is, starting with dry paper. I paint the sky all in one go, trying to preserve the whites as little gaps in my huge brush strokes.

I leave a little dry edge so it doesn’t bleed into the sea, and repeat the process – painting the lower half, all in one go.

The biggest difference is the use of granulating blacks in the second piece.

I’m using Lunar Black. A pigment from Daniel Smith. Here, I probably mixed it with Turquoise, which is giving a blue-tinted bleed.

Lunar Black in an incredibly granular pigment that just falls out of the washes in this pebbly effect. It’s hard to control if you want a specific effect, but I love it for what it does on its own.

Now. This third one. I intend to show it like this.

It’s a perfect painting of a field of dirty snow. Something I know quite well from living in Alberta.

It is, of course, the third variation of the sky. But I happened to put it down on the table flipped, and found out by accident that I like it.

I don’t know what you think about flipping a painting and saying – “Oh yes, I meant to do that. This is perfect”. But A: I don’t care, I like it. And B: I don’t care, I like it. :)

I mean – it works! There’s kind of a weird psychological kink among *some painters*, where a thing has to be as hard as possible or it isn’t worth doing. If something came accidentally, then it’s not valid. Because you didn’t sweat for it. I think it’s tied to the idea that the number of hours something takes is how you measure its value.

I just don’t think art is measured per hour like plumbing or legal representation. Art has an inherent value. The mystic power of a painted image to create an imaginary world into which your mind can travel. This has nothing to do with whether “it happened by accident”, or, “it took me a hundred hours to paint it”. Because of course, accident isn’t always accident – it can be experience. The ability to see something and make a decision to accept it.

Besides. If I’d never told you, you’d never have known.

17 Comments leave one →
  1. Frank Bettendorf permalink
    June 1, 2019 2:02 PM

    Exciting to see you take this on and the results are quite interesting. I like your narrative because it gives me something to think about. Looking forward to more. Frank B

  2. Susan permalink
    June 1, 2019 2:05 PM

    These are amazing, as always. One question: in order to get bleeds like this, do you paint on an angle, rather than flat on a surface?
    I’m looking forward to the rest of June………..
    Susan W.

    • June 1, 2019 8:57 PM

      Hey Susan, yes I use a camera tripod with a little ‘desktop’ on it to hold the drawing board. That way I can adjust the tilt to any angle. Normally it’s a fairly shallow tilt. I turn it flat when it’s super wet and dripping out of control. I’ve seen some people use a very steep angle (like Zbukvick) – but I haven’t tried that yet. That might erase some backwashes by letting it drip right off the bottom, but I don’t really need smooth washes so I haven’t investigated.

  3. Judy Sopher permalink
    June 1, 2019 2:05 PM

    Love these paintings. The contrast between dark and light and the shapes are wonderful. You can see all sorts of things in them. These are exquisite abstracts to me.

  4. Deanne Rader permalink
    June 1, 2019 2:14 PM

    Awesome work!

  5. June 1, 2019 2:29 PM

    Wow, Marc – you are off to a spectacular, soaring start. These are incredible! And thanks for the tip about lunar black!

  6. lynn permalink
    June 1, 2019 3:21 PM

    1)I wish you luck but you really do not need it!! Hoping for the return…. 2) When I was an art student, one of our exercises was to deliberately paint a figure/portrait upside down and ended up with some of my best! 3) Please tell, what size papers are you using? 4) Thank you for the lovely paintings and also the lunar black tip!

    • June 1, 2019 8:55 PM

      Hey Lynn – ya these are 18×18″ because I wanted to paint them square, so I took an 18×24″ watercolor pad and cut it down.

  7. Maggie M. permalink
    June 1, 2019 5:43 PM

    Marc, These are amazing! What effects you get from your strokes! Looking forward to seeing your work this month….you always inspire me.

  8. June 1, 2019 7:06 PM

    Love the subtle colours in the first watercolour – very evocative!
    What do you use for your digital sketches?

    • June 1, 2019 8:54 PM

      I’m using ProCreate on iPad Pro. I’ve tried quite a few drawing programs and that’s my favorite.

  9. Suze permalink
    June 1, 2019 7:35 PM

    Great read – very inspiring !! Thank you 🤗

  10. June 2, 2019 12:41 AM

    Your granular effect painting looks like an underground scene, tree roots and so forth.

  11. June 2, 2019 1:34 AM

    Just by looking at the result of what you achieved with washes I know that yes there is
    a part of you who likes experimenting and playing with watercolour, but there is also another part of you who is a super skilled painter and great artist with years of practice and fantastic results which shines through the darkness of your “skies” !

  12. June 2, 2019 8:38 PM

    Good luck with your 30 in 30!


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