- July 26, 2021
For me, starting a new watercolor is more complex than one would think. First, Scott and I decide on a subject. Sometimes, it is hard to convey my concept, so I take several photos from different vantage points and together, we decide on the focus. And then I begin to sketch. Unlike many watercolorists, I draw a rough of the painting on the watercolor paper. If you look closely, you can see some of my pencil lines.
I had not intended for Annie (our Labrador) to be part of the scene, but she is my sidekick and goes just about everywhere with me. Whether I’m working in the caves or at my office, she is always nearby, and this time was no different. Annie was in every photo I took and rather than eliminate her, I decided to capture her doing what she always does…sitting and looking at me, waiting for the work to begin.
I have painted the cave entrance before; the focus then was springtime and the blooming of the dogwoods that grace the entrance. This time, I wanted to portray a day at work with both doors open and the stacks of barrels that sometimes seem endless (especially on a long day of filling barrels!).
Watercolors are fun and challenging and for me, getting the color just right is the true challenge. For this project, I had eleven different shades of gray, seven browns, five reds, and three greens. Where is the green you ask…it’s the moss on the rocks!
Over the course of the years, I have drawn many barrels, so for me that was not the difficult part of the project. It was the rock wall that took me the most time. I painted each rock on its own. Getting the texture, perspective and depth took me hours. I painted for a few hours and then let the paint dry (usually when I was having lunch).
Some watercolorists use a blow dryer to speed up the process, but I prefer the traditional method. As the paint dries, the color softens, so I would add another layer, perhaps a different tone of gray and not on the entire rock, but just a portion of it to give the depth I was looking for. I always have a couple photos nearby to glance at to see how each rock is slightly different from its neighbor. Every time I walked by the cave, I would look at the wall to see how the light and colors change. I would then make a few notes and go back to my work and try to capture what I saw.
Knowing when to stop is hard for me because I always see something that I could add…whether it is a shadow or a highlight or just a touch more green. In fact, I just stopped writing this blog and added a bit more gray to the shadow under the door. Sometimes my granddaughter wants to "help", so I teach her a few techniques.
I hope you enjoy this new watercolor. Next time you visit us, perhaps Annie will be in the caves waiting for our work to begin.