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#30×30 Day 19 : Black Hills, White Water

June 19, 2021

I’ve been saving this one. I’ve been looking at this one for ages wanting to try it in watercolor, but held off until I felt ‘tuned up’. It was worth the wait!

I feel like this one is the best example so far of something that is 100%, absolutely, equally, good in both media, despite being completely different in feel.

That’s what I’ve been waiting for! Something satisfying about that!

I had a terrific time painting this one. All the elements clicked. The pigment and water were moving under my brush like dance partners. It was a joyful painting to make – regardless of the dark ominous colors. I enjoy the drama, and don’t find these wintery images depressing at all. I have one of these near-black paintings hanging over my desk right now, and I look at it every day with great enjoyment. It’s not stark or cold, it’s dramatic! Operatic! :)

I might want to frame these two and hang them side by side. It’s quite fascinating to look back and forth between them.

So, just in case anyone’s interested, here (below) is the digital collage I made to paint from. Both paintings, oil a few months ago, watercolor today, are done from this sketch, which was done in Pro-Create on the iPad using screenshots of various found images.

I think it’s fascinating how, when you’re just making an image to paint from – a digital collage (with some paint-over) is not meant to be ‘finished’ so you can be quite creative with shape and design.

This step – making the ‘mockup’ on the iPad – was essential for finding the composition. Watercolor is not like oil or digital. You cannot be 100% free to experiment. So the ‘finding by doing’ has to happen in a different media, or, in smaller ‘throw away’ sketches.

In some ways – despite all the odd artifacts in this quick photo-bash – it kind of says all the same things as the final painting. I have to ask myself sometimes – why even bother to make the finished work? You could just print and hang this on the wall! From across the room, I promise you, it has the same feeling.

Unless of course you get inherent satisfaction from the act of the making.

I think that’s my take away from digital art. You have to enjoy the process of making the thing. You have to have internal motivation, a deeper feeling of creativity, or kind of life-affirmation from art making. Watercolor does that, in the nearly magical way it moves and develops as you watch. It’s a kind of alchemy, a kind of magic, that isn’t there in any other kind of painting.

That’s worth remembering, and experiencing for yourself! Otherwise, the specter of digitally automating all your hard work is always there, offering you the easy way out.

3 Comments leave one →
  1. June 19, 2021 3:33 PM

    Love them both! So loose and free with interesting textures, and limited palette. Thanks for sharing

  2. June 19, 2021 6:34 PM

    Marc, this is a fantastic evolution. I have only just started to use procreate and I had the same idea as you, explore design options digitally before moving to watercolor. Unlike you, my idea stayed just that as I seem to have a long learning curve with procreate. You have however rekindled my interest in giving it a go. Thank you for that. And yes I love the dark painting for its drama and foreboding. Congratulations!

  3. June 20, 2021 9:53 AM

    These are fantastic— I use Procreate to collage references as well, but usually just for illustration work. I like this idea of using it to do the same for personal work; no matter how you create sketches for compositions, it does have the advantage of getting you familiar with the scale, shapes, etc. I love this watercolor the most of your three :)

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