The Benefits of Fast Watercolor Painting

Standing Nude Woman
Watercolor on Masa Paper, 10.5×3.75″


Life is good! My grandson is growing by leaps and bounds. He’s developing a personality with generously displayed smiles. I can’t help but be smitten by his charms! I am an obnoxious gramma singing his praises so now I’ll shut up on that subject and write about this watercolor.
This watercolor was done in 15—20 minutes. My masa paper watercolors had become much more detailed lately and I want to find a balance between that and the very loose watery paintings I made when I first started using masa paper. Being forced to work faster helps. I have to edit. I have to be a generalist first and then work to the specific. I do miss long sessions and the ability to make a finished work but I need fast studies like this one, also. Working like this more than once a week would be a real treat! Practice is my best friend.


T F m
March 28, 2014

Good Drawing Time

Waiting at the Dentist
Ballpoint Pen on Paper 5.5×4.5″

This man was a very good model even if he didn’t know it. And he wasn’t even absorbed by a cell phone! The fact that I could catch his hands says something about his stillness. He did move around a little but seemed to come back to this position. It was just enough time before he had to get up and go into the dentist’s chair. 

I have a dentist who is always late. Something always delays him. I have resolved to wait only 15 minutes for him in future. The only thing that would cause me to wait longer is some good drawing time like I had with this man.

T F m
March 19, 2014

Element of Surprise

Seated Model
Watercolor on Masa Paper, 10.5 x7.5″


Here is an example of a watercolor on very wet masa paper. The bleeds and atmospherics are even more pronounced than in my previous post. It has such an ethereal look especially with the whites of the clothing. Some of it was unexpected and only showed themselves when the paper dried. Part of the fun of working with things uncontrollable is the element of surprise. It’s the anticipation for what might be that so enthralling.

I will not say this is the most successful work I’ve done but the qualities I have mentioned make me save this piece. I may never show this in a formal setting but I find it to be appealingly mysterious. The process of art making can be utterly enigmatic. Stuff happens randomly while working that will take one in directions one never anticipated.

I am not a devotee of anything woo-like but, sometimes, when I am in the midst of work it seems to come from something outside myself. It’s the crawling-out-o-the end-of-my-brush sensation. I am fully aware that an MRI would show particular areas of my brain are producing that sensation. It matters not. It’s great when it happens.

T F m
March 18, 2014

Waiting Room

Waiting for the Birth
Ball Point Pen on Paper, 5×4.5″

My first grandchild was born last November. (Grand he is!) While we were waiting for his arrival, other people were waiting for arrivals of their own. Since I draw while I wait, I drew this young man as he waited for his new family member to arrive. 

People who play with their cell phones are such good models. They are so absorbed by the activity their positions do not vary much. Then, if they do get up, I can work on the context. 

I found this arrangement of furniture in front and the furniture in back to be, spatially, very interesting. I find situation in which the viewer has to climb over obstacle to find the center of attention to be particularly appealing. It’s such an interesting technical problem to me as an artist. It may mean more than that but I’m going to leave that to you, dear reader, to figure out.

T F m
March 12, 2014

State of the Paper

Watercolor on Masa Paper, 10×7.5″


This was done on wet paper. The soft, fuzzy edges are a dead give away on that point. Detail is not possible under these conditions. The control over the bleeding is through an awareness of the state of the paper. How wet is it? Once that is determined then knowing what to do next is key to proceeding. When the paper is as wet as this I also have to be more heavy handed with the paint load in my brush. The water on the surface tends to spread the pigment out and the color dries palely and less saturated.
The softness of the edges creates a sense of luminosity. If the colors are complementary, and the value contrast is strong, then the glow is enhanced. The complementary colors here do that. The addition of the yellow green to set off the violets and the reds in the shadows on the figure. I have written more on color theory here.

The previous post had a piece that was done on masa paper that was also wet but not as wet as this. I  also allowed a longer time period to work on it. As the paper got dryer, more details could be added. A lot depends on atmospheric conditions. If it’s a really humid day the paper will not dry for hours. On dry days the paper will dry very quickly. The final outcome is dependent on some very random and uncontrollable conditions.


The next watercolor on masa paper will show the differences in effects with a dryer paper.  

T F m
March 8, 2014

Profile Portrait Drawing

Ball Point Pen on Paper, 8.5×5.5″

This is a profile portrait of a friend of ours. Of the portrait views, the profile seems to me to be the least difficult. This was done while sitting at the counter in the kitchen during conversation. I really like to draw when the sitter isn’t actually sitting. I think it produces a more naturalistic result. I guess it’s the speed factor again. Working fast helps keep the inner critic quiet. Working fast means there is no time to heed the critic. Getting everything down is all that’s possible.

I have been told that drawing people without their knowing is a bit of risktaking. Yes, I could make a mess of it, but so what? I just move on to the next drawing. I have an infinite number of drawings in me. Let them pour forth. My satisfaction with the result is of no consequence. The activity is all that matters.

I started doing ball point pen drawings to show my students that an eraser is an inessential artifact when drawing. I think it’s an obstacle to drawing as it encourages the notion that mistakes are to be addressed immediately. Rather, it is best to make corrections on the fly. Using an eraser only interrupts the rhythm of drawing.

T F m
March 2, 2014