Three weeks ago, I gave a watercolor painting demonstration using the techniques I have developed for masa paper. It is also the chief topic of my book. It’s a much looser approach to watercolor. I call it a juicy, loosey-goosey approach. It allows for both happy, and not so happy, accidents. It also forces one to begin as one should: as a generalist. If the paper is wet, any small details dissipate into the wet surface. As it dries, it allows for further refinement. This is exactly how one should proceed even with a more tightly controlled technique.
I have done tightly controlled watercolors and I can take only so much slow, careful work. There are times I feel like I have to break out and do a more gestural kind of painting. Working with wet masa paper allows me to do just that and still have some control over the outcome. Rag paper behaves differently when it’s wet and placing saturated washes onto wet rag paper does not give the same result.
This piece started as a daylight landscape painting. I demonstrated the use of salt, the use of intentional blooms, and how easily the paint can be lifted from the masa surface. Since I am an animated speaker who talks with her hands, stray drops of water and paint ended up on the paper with unintended results that I did not care for. The painting would not have been a success in any case, so I decided to turn the whole thing into a night painting by covering it entirely with a deep, dark blue. I find such a blue to be a much better choice for night paintings. After that application, took a paper towel, bunched it up, and rolled it, with some pressure, across the wet wash. That created the light spots in the night sky along with a little salt. I wrung my brush out and then lifted color in the middle ground for a moonlit effect. The final painting ended up being far better than my starting point.
This was a gutsy decision. But, I have been watercolor painting long enough to know when to take a risk with a gutsy move. My informed intuition turned out well. Not caring about the underlying painting was also very helpful. Sometimes an E.W.A.G. (Educated Wildass Guess) is worth taking.