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Day 25 : #30x30DirectWatercolor : Vanishing Lake

June 25, 2019

“The Vanishing”, 18×18″ Watercolor on Paper

There are some experiences in life that stick with you. I frequently think back to our trip to the vanishing Salton Sea.

Of course, it doesn’t look like this at all. But I’m enjoying this exercise in sketching from imagination and memory and re-interpreting my own drawings.

Day 24 : #30x30DirectWatercolor2019 : Re-Inspiration

June 24, 2019

So, I’ve been fussing with something here in the past few days, which is that I’ve used up the inspirational value of my digital sketches. (For now).

I did – I think 45 sketches – to get me to 30 paintings. It was sort of a random number. I just sketched whatever was in my head and stopped naturally when the ideas started slowing down.

After you’ve been painting all the best ones – the ones that grabbed your eye – eventually, you’re down to the dregs. There really isn’t anything worth painting left!

So – I had to take a day off and sketch some new ideas.

Just for a break, I went back to the familiar – and painted in ink and wash with Chinese brushes.

Tomorrow, I’ll ‘re-boot’ with some of these new inspirations.

Day 23 : #30x30DirectWatercolor2019 : Ten Thousand Foot View

June 23, 2019

“Ten Thousand Foot View”

Day 22 : #30x30DirectWatercolor2019 : Hurricane Season

June 22, 2019

“Hurricane Season”, 18×18″ watercolor on paper

Here I am again, returning to my very first sketch.

Look how much you can get out of the same bit of inspiration. I felt like I hadn’t done a good enough job at the blackness  – so I went back.

These drips are not *entirely* intentional. But on the other hand, I don’t mind either. I mean, they are intentional in the sense that I know they will happen – if I soak the paper and paint at an angle. I enjoy learning to live with what the water does.

The end result, I feel looks like a massive waterspout. I like it.

I left it. I could see many others not liking the results. But what are you going to do? You can’t have a personal vision without doing things some people won’t like.

The sky, by the way, is a huge wasabi-wash of Daniel Smith’s Graphite Grey. (Tinted with a few random things).

This is a color that isn’t much good for anything in the natural world. Maybe certain kinds of rocks. A stone beach if you could find one. I do believe I used it in my parking garage paintings last year. It does have a unique velvety texture that I haven’t seen in any other pigments I’ve tried.

Day 21 : #30x30DirectWatercolor2019 : The Mountain

June 21, 2019

“Geologic Timescale”, 18×18″ watercolor on paper

To me, this one has potential for scaling up.

If you sit with it in your hands, it looks massive. This wall of rock.

I grew up in Alberta – though I didn’t appreciate the Rocky Mountains until I’d left. It’s an incredible feeling being up in those places, with towers of rock all around you. I regret that I didn’t get into rock climbing when I was younger. I don’t think it’s something I’ll get around to in this lifetime.

So yes – questions of scale.

This is one thing I have not defeated with watercolor. The ability to paint truly large paintings. This series is not large. They’re all 18″ paintings. For practical reasons of space and timing during this marathon.

But! I do plan to scale up some of these pieces later. The question will be if I do them in Oil or keep pushing Watercolors larger.

There are definite practical issues. Sourcing larger paper for one. You can’t just pop out and buy larger watercolor sheets. Ordering them is expensive if I have to get them outside Canada. And I expect half the time they’ll arrive damaged, considering the issues with shipping a huge flat fragile object. I suppose I’d have to look for larger rolls. But that would be an issue and a half dealing with that. Getting it off the roll un-damaged would probably require building a stand for the thing. And then dealing with the curl of the paper. And mounting a sheet on what? I’d be limited to 4×8′ plywood. I’d have to build some kind of work table. Aieee! See?

I suppose really,  I could work in panels. Do it like Japanese screens.

I also have to wonder if the watercolor would perform at larger sizes. The distance color will creep is partially up to the length of the fibers in the paper. I’m not sure that this will simply scale up.

See – these are the things that push you towards Oil (or Acrylic) when you start thinking about truly large paintings. Because I would like to see this one six feet high!

Day 20 : #30x30DirectWatercolor2019 : Black Ocean Event

June 20, 2019

“Black Ocean Event” 18×18″ watercolor on paper.

I’ve been thinking about something I want to call “Emergent Subject Matter”.

I didn’t think this was possible, but this series is making me think – you can make a work of art without knowing what it means to you.

If you asked me last year, I’d have said – that’s ridiculous. That’s just someone who has nothing to say. Or they’re making it up. That’s pretentious.

But, this is how I feel today.

I sketched these sketches – the whole series of Notans – in an academic mode. Thinking about composition and formal concerns. Graphic design issues.

Now I’m painting these pieces in a flood of water and color. Building texture, making marks. Working in a flurry of activity, fully engaged in the process. Your conscious mind is full of painting technique. Your unconscious – it isn’t talking. You’re far too busy painting to be thinking deeply.

Practically speaking, the painting is soaking wet. The paper is cockled with water. Everything is dark and glossy, the colors are nothing like what they will be when it all dries down.

Later, after it’s complete, and you’re looking at it as an outside viewer – you can have a real reaction.

Just like you’re standing in a museum wondering – what was the artist thinking? What does this make me feel?

Day 19 : #30x30DirectWatercolor2019 : The Lay of Land

June 19, 2019

“A painting is not a picture of an experience; it is an experience.”


“The most important tool the artist fashions through constant practice
is the faith in his ability to produce miracles when they are needed.”


“It’s a risky business to send a picture out into the world. How often it must be impaired
by the eyes of the unfeeling and the cruelty of the impotent.” – Mark Rothko