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Day 20 : #30x30DirectWatercolor : Rooftops of Lisbon

June 20, 2020

Day 20: Rooftops of Lisbon

I think it might not get better than this :)

This is the winner. If you’re allowed to call your own paintings winners.

Of course, I’m looking back with the benefit of hind-sight.

I paint these things ahead of the game, so I’m done my #30×30 before we start doing it as a group. (This year it took 17 days actually). It’s the only way I can keep up with the scanning, posting and social networking. Even though I’m asking you to do it! But hey – nothing’s stopping you! I’ve said it before – It’s 30 *consecutive* days – you can fudge WHICH thirty days – within reason :) It wouldn’t hurt to start a little early to avoid the rush at the finish line. One fellow told us he did 30 paintings on the FIRST DAY so he could relax for the rest of the marathon.


Honestly – before I was half way along, I knew this one was special.

I was getting nervous – like – don’t let there be an earthquake or something because this is a miracle.

My brush-work was going down just right. I had the measure of the paper, the perfect humidity.

The painting looks like a puzzle, but it felt like watching someone solve a Rubik’s cube. Like – I wasn’t even doing anything.

A genuine out-of-body-experience.

Musicians talk about getting to the point where they enjoy listening to themselves play. This must be the equivalent.

This is why, looking back after all these years – I really feel it’s not about finding the right teacher or buying the right supplies. Those things help. But so does getting a good breakfast every morning.

It isn’t what your brain knows. It’s what your hands know.



11 Comments leave one →
  1. Bernadette permalink
    June 20, 2020 7:27 AM

    Such a contrast from previous paintings with dramatic dark dominating. This painting of “light” is beautiful. You are right…it IS a WINNER!

  2. June 20, 2020 7:34 AM

    Thanks Marc this gives me the courage to pull out One if my Italy photos of roof tops and give it a shot You are an inspiration.

  3. Susan Weimer permalink
    June 20, 2020 9:52 AM

    Beautiful. I love the way it captures the sunlight, and the foliage colors help accentuate that.

  4. Elly Hobgood permalink
    June 20, 2020 10:22 AM

    This one is special!

    Sent from my iPad


  5. scottngov permalink
    June 20, 2020 10:31 AM

    Wow! Masterful! Such an inspiration for us all to put in the work and see results. You’ve done a fantastic job in contributing to the community. A personal thanks.

  6. June 20, 2020 10:53 AM

    I call your style and objective “realistic abstraction.” And you nail it!

  7. June 20, 2020 11:58 AM

    Well done…space implied not overdone..airy…perfect.

  8. Rita Cleary permalink
    June 20, 2020 12:07 PM

    This is a perfect example of how the brain “fills in”. Given that, I wonder why we (meaning I) struggle to put so much into a painting? I’ve heard it said that you only need to put in enough so that you convey the IDEA. The viewer’s eye and brain will understand and enjoy “finishing” it. Still waiting for my aha painting! ha ha

  9. June 20, 2020 1:16 PM

    My question has to do with “direct watercolor” i see pencil lines in your work? I thought direct meant no line work..??? This Lisbon Rooftops is gorgeous and indeed special. Lynn

    • June 21, 2020 12:53 PM

      Lynn, I hear what you are saying, and in fact I agree with you. The very best paintings are done with no line at all. When that works, it’s kind of an amazing feeling. When every mark you make is “Direct” – that is, without a guide line – then it’s the First and Freshest statement. Your first impression is always the best impression. So, that being said, sometimes I do use a gesture drawing underneath. (Especially when I have the anxiety of a public performance like this – work I do for myself is less stressful than this crazy public marathon we’re doing! :)

      I think the answer to your question is; “Direct Watercolor is The Least Preparation Possible.”

      So the very least prep is zero. That’s the ultimate goal. But, if I do use a gesture, it’s a single line scribble that perhaps marks the major proportions. I go ahead painting with as direct an approach as possible. Specifically, I try not to draw windows, or leafy foliage, or faces or bricks or roof tiles – (I used to draw all these things before starting a painting). I avoid any of the details that would make it into a coloring-book exercise. Though I should say – tinting my lines is exactly how I learned to paint, and there’s nothing wrong with that, if that’s what you want to see in your work.

      So really – What is the deal with this goal: “The Least Preparation Possible”?

      It’s to break ourselves from reliance on careful planning that so much atelier art is based upon. To train the skills to execute in the moment and surpass what can be achieved with pains-taking. It’s to erase the idea that a work of art should be hard labor. The strange concept that hours-worked some how measures the quality of the result. (I believe this, feel free to disagree, I can see arguments on both sides, but this is where I choose to stand.) And, it’s to free myself up to make a painting in whatever amount of time I have. If it is in the few minutes of fading light, or the middle of events as they happen, or – in the stolen time before or after a work day.

      Without the attitude of Direct Watercolor, I wouldn’t have made 90% of the art I’ve made in my life. I wouldn’t have had time! So – I preach the ultimate goal, Direct Painting. (And I don’t claim to have invented it, or to be teaching any special technique. It’s just alla prima painting, as it’s been done since the 16th century – (fairly modern!). I reach that goal sometimes, but not every time. And I’m ok with that.

      What do you think? Sorry for the long winded answer, but I feel like this is something that gets asked a lot, so I might as well expound :)

  10. Janet Catmull permalink
    June 21, 2020 2:48 AM

    I’m really glad to hear you or anyone talk with such positivity and confidence! Watercolor is difficult. It takes years for most of us to feel much mastery over it. So hurrah, good for you! I hope you have winners like this more and more often!

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