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Day 25 : #30x30DirectWatercolor2018; FINISHED!!!

June 25, 2018

Day 24, and 32/30! < FINISHED!!!

Whoo hoo! Ding Ding! *Confetti Cannon!* *Throw’s Streamers!*

All of a sudden my marathon is finished!

I was thinking I’d wrap up with something easy like a set of selfies – but the day opened with great weather – and Laurel told me to take advantage of it – so I spent the entire day in my favorite place: the cemetery.

It’s really my favorite place to sketch. It’s quiet, they have beautiful grounds, and there’s plenty of sculpture to draw. There’s no better place for idling away a day.

People ask ‘do you paint every day’ and I usually say, ‘no, but pretty close’, or ‘no, but I try for that’.

Well, in fact, being honest, for the past six months or so, I’ve probably only painted one out of seven days. I didn’t realize how much putting out a book, and cutting back on teaching (and those unending demands of elder care) would conspire to subtract painting from my lifestyle.

This 30 day project, and all the activity surrounding it, has been an incredible return to the old days.

It’s been at turns frustrating, exhausting, satisfying, and inspiring.

I was putting too much pressure on myself at the beginning. As the instigator of this event, I felt like – hey – I better make a good showing!

You really can’t do that. Demanding public successes will only send your talent out on strike.


But as the days went on, it stopped mattering, because the painting started to get really interesting. It got hard enough to keep going, that I stopped caring about what other people would expect, and started painting entirely for myself.

I was expecting to get tuned up. For my hand skills to improve. I was expecting those kinds of gains. But I surprised myself with this mental shift.

Here, at the end of this grind – I’m quite tired! But also deeply satisfied with what I accomplished. And (like any marathon runner) – I’m ready for a good rest! But I’m inspired to get back at it as soon as possible!!! I want to start applying myself to some serious painting!!!



Finally – I want to say – there are still five days left.

I hope everyone is feeling like – if they’ve made it this far, they can make it to the finish line!

Let us know how you are doing. Keep posting your stuff up on facebook or here in the comments. I will do my best to get on there and be more active in the last few days.

I’d be very interested to hear from people, as they finish up their 30 – maybe take a day or two to think about it – and let me know what are your final thoughts?

What did you get out the experience? Would you do it again next year? Are you going to keep painting! (We don’t really need these challenges do we :)  But, I’m looking forward to hearing about other people’s endgame!

And I want to touch base in the next few days with the others. (Maria, Liz, Uma, Suhita and Anne-Laure). Finally, I’ll have time to go and have a good look at what they’ve been doing.

Ok, it’s late here! Talk to you soon!




Day 23 : #30x30DirectWatercolor2018

June 23, 2018

Day 23, 28/30! <soooo close!!!

I remember saying, If it gets tough, we can always cut corners and do some little ones :)

These are 3-up on a 1/2 sheet, so that makes them about 7″ high. Post-card sized.

I can taste the finish line now. Tried to paint something more serious, but gave up and just jumped ahead with these super-fast mini’s. I was really tempted to just finish today – but – this filled the only sheet I had taped, and I still had to scan. So……

So – what’s interesting about these?

They’re done with a very quick underpainting – very messy – which I then spritzed down with an atomizer bottle. (The one I use to mist my pans in the paint box). That’s what’s giving the bled-out edges and weird dripping.


I dunno.

Just an experiment, done out of frustration. I was thinking – ‘these are not doing it for me’.

‘Maybe I’ll trash ’em but – – – what if I do this. *spritz *spritz *spritz’.

Edit: I just remembered when I figured out this trick. Back when I was drawing in water-soluble ink. <spritzing first shows up in this old post].

I went back in and tightened up the focal areas with opaque-ish-strokes. But I kind of wish I hadn’t. It would be neat to see if I’d left the misted-out stuff alone. Whether they’d have stood up to later examination.

By the way – the reference photos for these came from @castellidelmondo on Instagram. I don’t know them. They seem like one of those re-poster channels on IG where they re-broadcast anything they find in their niche.

Just the thing for random inspiration! Nothing wrong with that when you’re on day 23 of a painting exercise.


Day 22 : #30x30DirectWatercolor2018

June 22, 2018

Day 22, and 25/30!

I wonder if you will be surprised to hear – I’m getting a little tired of watercolor.

If you’re still with us from day one, you might be feeling the same :)

I try to stay positive around here – but this ridiculous project is getting to be a second job :)

Who’s crazy idea was this? hey? I feel like I need a holiday!

So these paintings are done from cel-shots taken on our family trip to Laguna Beach this past Dec.

Laguna has to be the nicest place in the world. In every sense of the word.

Say one thing for Laguna – it’s relaxing there.

So – this is what it looks like when I paint for relaxation.

Day 21 : #30x30DirectWatercolor2018

June 21, 2018

Day 21, and 23/30 paintings!

I have a size that I’m the most comfortable with. 1/4 sheet. (11×15″), or even a little smaller.

It’s the scale where I have an instinctive knowledge of how much paint to mix, how far wet will travel, and what my typical brushes will do. (#3/4 DaVinci Artissimo Mop and #7 or 8 Winsor and Newton Artist’s Watercolor Sable Pointed Round).

When trying for larger paintings, I have to inch up to them.

Painting a few 1/2 sheets to warm up, then failing a few times at full sheet. Until gradually I’m ‘tuned’ for the larger brushes and bigger paint puddles required. It’s kind of weird how you get used to things.

I suppose what a person should do is paint a full sheet every day for 30 days :) That might be something to do….in the future…sometime…much…later.

So anyway, I failed this one a few times at 1/ 2sheet size. Tore them up. Painted this little one at my familiar 1/4 sheet.

And I didn’t even use the whole sheet. I’m infected by instagram – looking at all these squares.

BTW, This one was painted from a photo, taken from the observation deck of a local college at the end of the USK symposium in Chicago last year.

Day 20 : #30x30DirectWatercolor2018

June 20, 2018

I’m stretching yesterday’s mini-sketches into the second day, by giving you some step-by-step of this broken silhouette.

By the way – by my count, that’s 22/30 paintings on day 20! So we are even a little ahead of target!

How is everyone else doing?


Day 19 : #30x03DirectWatercolor2018

June 19, 2018

Hey! I went outside for an entire day of painting!

Just little postcards. Done on the run. Taking my time, strolling and sketching like a tourist in my own town.

Pretty amazing hey. (When you get a chance to do that).

Things are topsy-turvy around the house. (#eldercare #forgetaboutit). Any given day, something random can derail all plans.

So I made a deal to go off on my own for the entire day. Running around our old neighborhood – taking only a few drawing boards and the Art-Toolkit mini palette.

These are two-up on a 1/4 sheet. So that makes them about 7″ wide and random in height.

There’s nothing too serious going on. Just having fun, out on a beautiful summer day, making puzzle shapes. Trying to connect a block, or set of houses anyway, into a single broken-shape.

Well, sort of a single shape, but with some tiny white gaps to allow for edges, and, then going back and re-stating darks.

When I’m just having fun like this, the shapes get a little wiggly. No consistent perspective.

I kind of like the randomness :)

It’s fun to look at how much my drawing has changed. Here’s this same spot from my pen and ink days.

Just one slice of a concertina sketchbook, done back in 2015.

I have to say, in support of Maria’s clever invention – this is why I love the Art-Toolkit mini-palette. I’m getting old enough to want the lightest possible paint-box if I’m going to be holding up the drawing board for a full day. It’s kind of amazing how much difference this small thing makes – not having a full-sized box clamped onto the corner of your board.

It’s always the same: the less you bring, the more you draw!


Day 18 : #30x30DirectWatercolor2018

June 18, 2018

No Post Today! I’m tied up with some contract work.

I do have a mid-point update from Suhita for you!

Suhita Says:

At the halfway point of #30x30DirectWatercolor2018, and I’m looking back at the half-month with some thoughts.

If you aren’t a natural direct-watercolorist, (I’m not!) then this is a HARD challenge! To see exclusively in shape and yet keep a piece from being overworked takes a whole lot of focus. The impulse to just pick up a pen and finish the piece is strong!

Some subjects are easier to get loose with because they’re forgiving. Like this landscape with simple perspective.  Knowing I didn’t have to get the “drawing” right meant I was free to focus on capturing the feel of the blazing heat. I couldn’t resist painting in the two figures: to me, they add a story to the piece.

I was quite pleased with this next piece because it combined many challenges for me: painting a person/people without line, creating the feel of space and activity without getting too specific. And, the piece is darker, literally, than a lot of what I paint.

On other days I just took it easy and painted stuff I understood well and had painted before. Like this skull that sits on my studio table, a ready model whenever I need one. I lost painted this on the wrong side of a sheet of Arches paper.(The other side was used for a rather unsuccessful piece). Doing this totally takes the pressure off creating a ‘good piece’ and it’s amazing how much it adds to flow and looseness. if only I could convince myself to work like this more!

All my piece use white gouache. I use it like I would another color, and while I try to save my big whites, I never save smaller ones if I feel it makes me work tightly just to keep the white paper.

So what have I learned so far? (Besides that this is hard work?)

  • Seeing in shape-first is slowly becoming less difficult.
  • I am enjoying watching watercolor move on the paper with no line to hold it within bounds, and I’m learning a lot about pigments and transparency in the process.
  • If I hang on for another few weeks and work at this, there will be more insights and progress.
    Suhita Shirodkar
    Instagram: @suhitasketch