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#30×30 Day 15 : Boiling it down to the Essence

June 15, 2021

I started in here with the goal: What can I do with watercolor, that I couldn’t do in any other media?

This one is all about pouring on premixed colors.

And, when I say pouring, I don’t really mean pouring. It’s more like – holding a cup of paint over the painting and ‘ladling it on’ with a big mop.

Just to walk through the process: I take my (plastic) 30ml medicine cups (I got a box of 1000 as a hand-me-down, but I’m sure you can find something equivalent? I hope?) and I pre-mix the colors. Squeezing paint right in the cup and adding a little water at a time, mixing them with a small palette knife.

I keep all my mixes-in-progress in a shallow plastic box on my desk, so if I were to spill one, it wouldn’t go far.

With these paint mixes, I’m aiming for the consistency of wasbi – because there will still be water in the brush or on the paper so I don’t want to over-thin. But – if it’s a sky wash, maybe I’ll go more like half-and-half creamer.

I keep the dregs of every cup and use them to make other colors. If a color goes unused for a long time, it can often be re-constituted. Just mix new color right on top.

Often, I’ll make two or three cups of each color, to know I have enough. I’ll batch mix them. You take an extra empty cup and begin pouring half of one into the other and back again repeatedly till they’re all cross-mixed – this ensures all the cups are exactly the same color.

I have to say, I’m certainly getting this premixing approach from my oils, where I tend to mix up large piles of paint before I start, aiming to eyeball how much I’ll need for the whole painting. The paint stays good for days, so you might as well. Also, if you do need to mix more, it’s easier to match a color if you don’t completely run out.

What’s the big benefit of these pre-mixes? I think I’m doing a better job on color sensitively. I’ve gotten used to a more complex/neutral color range, less of a out-of-the-tube experience.

Ok, enough talk, here’s some detail shots!

Here’s the only touch of pure pigment – that iron oxide there. Something I’m used to doing quite a bit! But – if you only do it once on the entire painting – it’s quite a strong statement.

Here’s a reserved white shape. Normally I would have these all along that row of trees, making them sharp and well defined. This time, I wanted the entire tree line to soften naturally. To melt into each other, and into the sky.

Here’s some scraping with the palette knife. This is absolutely something that came from my oil paintings.

More scraping. If you do it when the paint is wetter, the pigment invades back in and turns the scrape into a raised line.

OK! So that’s my Day 15.

I’m very excited here. I really think this is one of the best water-thing’s I’ve done in a while.

I absolutely understand if it’s not your cup of tea. It’s kind of an intentionally ugly painting :) But I like it! This is something I’d hang on my wall.

This is the big deal with #30×30. It’s a true testament to the power of daily painting. If you can carve out the time to do this – and it *is* a big deal – who has this kind of time? But if you can make it happen – working every day, letting your brain sleep on the paintings, and going right back to it the next day – it works at an entirely different level than once a week painting – or worse, doing only a handful of big paintings a year.

This is my personal belief anyway. I know my brain isn’t the same as every brain – but hey, I can feel it working! So I can’t help but shout about it :)

So Okidoke – thanks for reading – let’s talk more tomorrow.


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