Monday, December 6, 2010

Reflecting on water

I took a watercolor workshop this weekend from an incredible watercolor artist, Stan Miller, who fortunately for me, lives in our area. The workshop focused on the visual properties of water and how to render them believably through the medium of watercolor.

The entire workshop was a validation of some of my thinking throughout the last several months. First of all, art is all about vision. What do I REALLY see? Not what do I think I see. Then, how do I reproduce that on paper? I have to be able to master my craft before I can manipulate it to use it as a tool to say anything.

Values, the lights and darks of a subject are critical. I know this so well, but it was good to have it hammered home throughout the weekend. We painted six paintings in two days. Only one, the last, was in color. This forced us to think only about values. Color and technique are the big seducers. It's so easy to be sidetracked by them. A good piece must be designed well, and the values must be correct. It's like building a house. Without a good foundations, it doesn't matter how many beautiful finishes you add. The thing still falls apart. Values are part of the foundation.

Where do I go from here? Back to the studio to practice what I learned. I know I need to do more value studies of each of my paintings. I need to practice, practice my craft and not be so worried about having something to frame every time I sit down to paint.

Old ideas. Thoughts I've considered many times before. But some ideas are worth repeating and reflecting on.


  1. These are so cool - and impressive! I'd never thought about watercolor in black and white, yet it's astonishing how 'real' they look. The funny thing is, the values are so important that my eyes tricked me into thinking some of them were in color - I had to look again when you said only one was. :)

  2. It is amazing how much the viewer's brain supplies that is not even there - IF the values are right.

  3. Fantastic paintings, friend of mine!!!