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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


Day 18 : #30x30DirectWatercolor2019 : The Chinese Elements

June 18, 2019

“The Fifth Element isn’t Iron it’s Us”

# Earth #

@ Air @

~ Water ~

& Fire &

“There Never Were More Than Four”

Day 17 : #30x30DirectWatercolor2019 : Epic Fail!

June 17, 2019

Any painting marathon is not complete without a public failure.

I really don’t know what I was thinking when I made this. What convinced me to try this image?

It’s absolutely wrong for this series. Completely missing the point of the other pieces. Completely lacking the long views to the horizon that draw you in. Completely the wrong color palette.

This wall of foliage might have some interesting shapes – but it does not compose into a view. It is not a landscape.

If a good landscape can transport you to a place – this composition is bouncing me off. Pushing me out of the picture plane.

So – despite the nice touches of brushwork here and there – this is a failed piece. It’s simply not what I’m looking for in this series.

I figure – if you’re going to fail – fail big! And this is an Epic Fail.

Day 16 : #30x30DirectWatercolor2019 : All the Water in the World is Connected

June 16, 2019

Here’s another video replay of the sketching process.

I find the sketching phase extremely important. Because I’m making the watercolor all-in-one-go, I really need a clear idea of where the lights and darks are before the brush touches paper. I’m not sure it would be possible to make watercolor entirely from nothing. You’d have to be fantastically lucky, or be drawing something you knew absolutely by heart.

Well, I suppose – similar to drawing directly in ink – you’d have to progress with tiny marks at first. Measuring out space, placing elements, and only then closing shapes. I guess – once you put your mind to it you can do anything.

But it’s much easier to just mess around in digital ink! You can push pixels until they’re in the right place.

Day 15 : #30x30DirectWatercolor2019 : Hump Day

June 15, 2019

Day 15. The mid-point.

We’ve made it halfway. The early excitement is burning off. Now we’re reaching into our reserves.

Starting to get tired maybe? Projects that seemed fascinating at the beginning might be wearing thin?

The big gains that we were expecting might not be visible yet. Because it doesn’t work that way. The leaps in skill are going to happen after it’s all over. After your brain has had time to write new pathways etched by your practice.

You don’t get a big reward in the middle of the race.


This is when you will be most tempted to cheese out a few easy sketches. And if you have to – if you need a break, to get a second wind – then you have to. Take a few days off. Or paint some flowers. Or an empty seascape. Or some clouds. Something where there’s nothing to stress over.

Or spread out everything you’ve done so far and post a snapshot of that. It’s probably looking pretty good if you step back :)

Day 14 : #30x30DirectWatercolor2019 : The Long Walk

June 14, 2019

“I Need a Good Long Walk”, 18×18″ watercolor on paper

Usually, I go back and forth about which I like better – the digital sketch or the watercolor. I think here, the watercolor is the better version.

Though…no…I can still go back and forth. The digital sketch looks like it’s pre-dawn. Where the watercolor is just an overcast day. I’ll have to try a version that’s a real effort at a nocturnal painting.

It’s all going to depend a bit on your monitor. And the lighting in your room. Things that look dark, but still visible, on an iPad can be pitch black on a PC monitor. Its a thing called ‘gamma’ – sort of a contrast setting in the different operating systems. IOS devices have a truly bright screen. And they’re often higher resolution than a laptop or this – my desktop.

That’s one thing about painting irl (in real life). You see, what you see. No wondering what the other person is viewing it on.




Day 13 : #30x30DirectWatercolor2019 : Shots From Above

June 13, 2019

I was looking at the work of Chris Dahl-Bredine. He’s a photographer, and the pilot of some kind of odd-looking ultralight aircraft. His Instagram is full of fantastic shots – similar to what we’re becoming used to from drones – but he gets himself up there and sees it first hand.

This one is inspired by one of Chris’ photos. (Unfortunately, I’ve lost the link to the actual shot, but his whole page is worth a look – or a follow!).

I’m not sure why I’ve deviated today from my process – painting from my own sketches.

I suppose the issue is – I’ve never seen this myself, and the moment I did, I wished I had!

My sketches all come from my memory. What else? So – if never seen it, how can I paint it? And if I have seen it, how can I not paint it?

Other people’s work is sometimes an important launching point.

These days, the practice of painting from photos goes somewhat against the grain. We’re told by the art-zeitgeist that every work should be entirely our own creation. As if that was possible. There’s rather too much concern about copyright violations if you ask me. (Which you didn’t). Not that I feel people shouldn’t own their own work, of course, I do. Entirely so, when it comes to commercial use. But I feel – on the other hand – that artists should be able to use anything they see as inspiration. Anything and everything. All of history, and certainly all of the ocean of images that we call the internet. To do otherwise is to ignore the culture we live in.

I wrote about the practicalities of copyright-and-painting at greater length over here.

But! This goes against the grains of my goals for #30×30 – so – I’ll be back to working from my sketches tomorrow :)