Tuesday, 10 February 2015

Watercolors - Beginnings

"But what am I going to see?
I don't know. In a certain sense, it depends on you.” 

S. LEM "Solaris" 

Today's story will concern my beginnings in struggling with watercolors. Maybe it doesn't sound too interesting. What's even worse, maybe it really isn't too interesting. Nevertheless this story should be uplifting for those who are doubting in their ability of mastering this technique.
I admit that some people just have a sense for watercolors. They know intuitively in which proportions the paint should be diluted to create both delicate and precise work. They can avoid unwanted smudges and "moldy" patterns. Well, I'm not one of them. 
While struggling with watercolors I felt a mix of frustration and desperation fueled by low self-esteem. However I had to  mobilize myself just enough to be able to pass an entrance exam for the Faculty of Architecture and then cope with art classes during studies. I just had to find the way to conquer watercolors before they defeat me.

STAGE 1. First (and second, and third) attempts with watercolors were a series of defeats and setbacks. Paint flew in all possible directions (especially in those directions it shouldn't). Alternatively it was so dense and sticky that it was losing its transparent properties and just couldn't be smeared. Drawing something precisely was almost impossible, not mentioning about drawing it aesthetically (I'm using the word "drawing" because despite appearances watercolor is a drawing technique).

STAGE 2. Even if a pen or pencil sketch was not a big problem for me, watercolors were destroying all my previous efforts. Apparently it's easier to have control over lines than over spots. I noticed a simple relation: the less paint on my works, the better.
Slowly and laboriously I began to learn how to control watercolors, i.e. how much water should be added depending on desired results or what the pressure of a brush should be. It's easier to focus on that while using only one color.  A very gentle application of paint didn't cover a pen drawing but only indicated the light direction and suggested dimensionality. Temporarily I resigned from striving for photorealism and the result appeared to have its charm :)

STAGE 3. But with time my  palette expanded to a staggering number of 3 and later even 5 colors. Nowadays I rarely  exceed this number because, as it's commonly known, many hues can be easily achieved  by mixing specific paints.  

STAGE 4. After a long time of arduous attempts I finally comprehended how to depict details with watercolors. The key to success is getting a very thin brush...

...and gaining a practice in using it. Sketches were needed only to set the overall composition and became quite invisible under more boldly used watercolor paint.

STAGE 5. Of course I'm still trying to develop my abilities and facing new challenges, but that's a story for a different post :)