Creative Jumpstarts: Pockets of light and Brushwork

18 x 24 watercolor on Arches Rough, 30 minute practice emphasis on brushwork and light to dark value control

In this jumpstart I want to use a complete range of value, lightest to darkest, the entire gamut, at the same time really give your brushwork some exercise, and also I want you to start the process with slightly damp paper, not soaking wet but not dry either.  The lessons should take you about 30 minutes each and I would love it if you focused on the process of working light to dark in one continuous activity.  Remember more water and you have a lighter value and more pigment less water and the value will be darker. 

18 x 24 watercolor Arches rough, 3 colors used Ultramarine Blue, Burnt Sienna, and Indigo.  I just let the brushwork move me through the process continuously working towards getting really dark darks, I scraped with a flat plastic card.

Put out fresh color, try not to use old crusty dried up pigment these will not give you dark rich colors.  Done well this lesson will really get you in touch with the idea that the secret to painting in watercolor is being aware of the amount of water in your brush in relationship to the amount of water on your paper.  18 x 24 watercolor on Arches rough, I really worked with a focus on three or four pieces of white paper and made sure to really emphasize those spots of white as the place to exaggerate and express my brushwork.

So work continuously without letting the paper dry just stay focused of the amount of water you are bringing to the paper and add a little more pigment to your brush if the mixture is spreading or diffusing too much.  Do this exercise everyday and you will begin to really have comfortable loose style of painting.  Although all of the exercises are more on the abstract side you can use the knowledge gained here in your more traditional paintings.18 x 24 watercolor painted on a foggy rainy day in Camden Maine at last years workshop.  The practice I have done working on wet to drying paper allowed me to work on the paper without the need for drying the paper.  It was painted in one session.  I just focused on the amount of water I brought to the paper.

Give this jumpstart a try you will love the progress you make after a few botched attempts.

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  • PatApril 25, 2012 - 1:21 pm

    Each of these is quite challenging-especially gauging the necessary amount of water. Definitely will take some practice, but thanks, Steve, for posting these!ReplyCancel

  • AliApril 30, 2012 - 9:52 pm

    This is the technique I’ve been always looking for. This is the way you can enjoy watercolor the way you were with oil. Thank you for sharing.ReplyCancel

  • paulaMay 26, 2012 - 4:03 pm

    I really like your Creative Jumpstarts – these exercises really help me to loosen up and to get more creative!ReplyCancel