Sharing a few images of these two paintings that I look back on with pride. They were both painted from life and make me happy. I have strong memories associated with both which also makes them special to me. I don't think there's a magic formula for always making a "good" painting, but I know it's important to paint from life, to paint sincerely and to enjoy the process.
I went to Blicks today to pick up some supplies and decided to test out some of the Arches rough grain watercolor paper. I had been using the green covered, fine grain paper previously.
Both papers are cold pressed so they both have a certain amount of tooth. The fine grain is noticeable smoother, but there's not a huge difference between the fine grain and the rough grain. I set up outside to do quick light and shadow study and found that the rough tooth really works well for capturing a quick effect of the light and color. I wouldn't recommend using the rough grain if you're a more detailed painter, but this rough paper works very well for me. I also found that it's not as rough as the Winsor & Newton watercolor paper.
Gotta keep painting while the weather's still fairly nice; once it gets colder out, the watercolor freezes while you're trying to paint.
I had my weekly Ridgewood Community School watercolor class tonight and wanted to share my demo and a lesson on brushstroke economy.
Today's lesson was focused on John Singer Sargent. I've studied a lot about Sargent and I'm always impressed with how efficiently he worked. We talked in class tonight about midtones (also called halftones) and we discussed the idea of brushstroke economy. Sargent was a master of midtones and he wrote "You must classify the values...If you begin with the middle-tone and work up to the lights and down towards the darks -- so that you deal last with your highest lights and darkest darks -- you avoid false accents."
Now to discuss brushstroke economy; I think this is one of the most important lessons in all of painting, but especially for watercolor painting. I first learned about this idea in college in a class with Patrick Connors. I loved Professor Connors' class because he emphasized traditional techniques. He told us about Frans Hals (1582 - 1666) and how he would lay down a brushstroke and leave it. This lesson was taught to Sargent by his teacher, Carolus Duran (1837 - 1917) as well. This goes well with midtones because you can lay down a broad midtone and then start sculpting the form with singular brushstrokes au premier coup (on the first try).
A lot of translations of au premier coup that I've seen have related it to alla prima, but they're different according to what I've read in the book, The Painter in Oil by Daniel Burleigh Parkhurst. Parkhurst writes that au premier coup means to lay down a brushstroke and then leave it and to build up the brushstrokes in a mosaic fashion. Alla prima only means that the painting is completed in a single sitting, but au premier coup isn't necessarily in one sitting.
That's my lesson for today, have a good week everyone.
I'm so excited to announce that one of my classes at Pushing Colored Dirt begins tonight at 7PM. Our classes are online and are taught via Zoom. My class tonight is Watercolor for Beginners, but I'm also teaching Pet Portraits for Beginners which begins this Friday, July 31st and you can still sign up for it.
Also, you guys should sign up for our PCD newsletter. I'll be sending out news, information about classes, some cool art history facts, quotes and general advice about art making. You can sign up by visiting our PCD homepage and scrolling down to subscribe.
I know I haven't written on this personal blog in a while, but I did write a long blog post over at PCD that you should check out. I wrote it about inspiration, influences and idol worship. If you ever feel lost as an artist (or person in general) give it a read and I'd love to hear your thoughts.
Have a wonderful week everyone, much love.