Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Watercolor my World

It's the beginning of Spring here in Boston, a time of new beginnings and rebirth. There's no mistaking a change in the air when you get that one extra hour of sunlight! In the Spring, I start to reassess where I've been and where I'm going. This year I chose to focus on my art style. Lucky for me to find three talented ladies in the same boat!

As we previously mentioned, the goal of coming together on this blog is to help not only each other, but offer advice to anyone else who might need a lift. I'm thinking of it like a journal. Down the line, there's bound to be a story you'll connect with to help steer you in the right direction.

Here's my first story:

I studied oil painting in school by choice. 15 years ago, I had different goals and different influences, but things change. After school I got a job in the animation industry and suddenly I was a digital artist frantically learning new skills and software, letting my paints dry and crumble. How sad to forget about something you studied in such depth!?

A few months ago, tired of leaving them half full, I started to make myself draw in my sketchbooks. I thought it might be helpful to use Instagram to share photos of my sketches (social media "cheerleaders" are your best friends). Because of the reactions I got, I kept going. I learned to draw more freely and be less dependent on the Cmd+Z.


A few months into posting sketches, I pulled out my Pentel brush pen:


Having that solid pencil sketch made adding a more permanent line actually fun to do. Being able to manipulate a brush pen got me to thinking (uh-oh). 

Here's the conversation that happened in my head:

"I need to relearn how to paint."
"But oil paint is too messy."
"And smelly..."
"What if my cat eats the paint and dies?"
"There has to be another way."
"Water...
...Color"
"!"

It sounds so silly listed like that when actually, over time, I just developed new influences and became more fascinated in a particular picture book illustration style. (A style you just can't replicate in Photoshop, believe me I've tried!) My husband focused on watercolor in school and we had a "Painting Sunday" where he showed me some techniques. Our cat, Timmy, was happy I chose water over oil and so eager to pose:


I kept dabbling for a bit on my own:


Then I discovered a local watercolor class with illustrator, Dan Moynihan. I can't imagine taking a class these days unless the teacher is someone I greatly admire and want to learn from. Dan's style is cartoon. My style is cartoon. Perfect! I was relieved to find that class #1 had us starting from the very basics. There is absolutely no pressure to finish anything and make it look "perfect," which I have been trying to do for 15 years.

I've only been to a few classes so far, but taking a giant leap backwards has been extremely helpful. It can seem gruesome to have to start all over, but it's never too late if you don't freak out (*quote of the day). Patience is so hard to find, I know.

The reintroduction to value and hue studies is one of my particular favorites:


Through this simple test, I'm discovering what colors I like best and realizing I can probably subtract a few from my palette (i.e. second row from the top left - ultramarine and cobalt look close enough to probably choose just one):


My first palette (that I will eventually condense):
-Cobalt Blue
-Ultramarine
-Viridian Hue
-Sap Green
-Burnt Umber
-Yellow Ochre
-Quinacridone Gold
-Cadmium Yellow Hue
-Burnt Sienna
-Alizarin Crimson
-Cadmium Red Light Hue
-Cadmium Red


There you have it, the beginning of my sloooow, messy process of getting back into painting and the end of chapter one. If this ends up being a 25 chapter book, so be it. The second you stop learning is when the creativity stops as well, right? I'll do my best to share what I learn on this blog and I'll definitely keep posting frequent sketchbook photos on Instagram!

Please feel free to leave comments, ask questions, and so forth. I would love to keep the discussion alive!

Cheers!
~Renee

4 comments:

  1. Thanks for sharing! I love that you had a "Painting Sunday" with your husband and decided to return to the basics. Good luck to you as you learn!

    I look forward to more "Simply Messing About" posts.

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  2. I wish every Sunday could be "Painting Sunday!"

    Thanks so much for following along, Priscilla! :D

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