Watercolor and Shadow & Light

Have I ever mentioned how much I love working in watercolor? Just a bit of warning, this post is going to be all about watercolor and I may repeat myself several times, exclaiming just how much I love watercolor.

Since my last post I went on a journey. That journey began by viewing Week 31 of Life Book 2017 titled  Shine Your Light & Embrace Your Shadow with Andrea Gomoll. I cannot say enough about this class, however, I’ll have to resist saying too much as I don’t want to overstep. I didn’t have the supplies Andrea used so I made a selection out of what I do have. I selected Prang watercolors. I have their set of sixteen.

I need to talk about Prang watercolors for a minute. I heard about them from one of Barb Owen’s live streams. She used them in one of the projects she was showing and spoke about how vibrant the colors are.  I decided to buy a set and since they are inexpensive I chose to go with the largest set I could find which was a set of sixteen. They are considered a child’s watercolor set. Because I wasn’t sure if I would enjoy working with watercolors I decided to go with this cheap set. I had a different brand of watercolors around the house that my daughter had used for school but they were very poor. I think any other brand could not have been worse.

From my very first brush stroke I have been in awe of Prang. The vibrancy of the colors are amazing. After trying to use the crappy sets I had around the house of my daughter’s and having to coat my brush liberally with the colors, for some reason I keep expecting that from Prang and end up with way too much pigment on my brush. Trying to get a soft or pastel appearance from any of the colors is difficult for me. I get too color happy and just pile it on. LOL

I’m still on my first pans of the Prang set although the yellow is almost gone. I am finding I love yellow. I bought a new set of sixteen Prang watercolors which I hope will last longer and I hope I won’t start using until I learn to be less heavy handed. I have fallen in love with Prang so much I’m afraid it might be difficult to use any other watercolors, even the more expensive sets.

Since playing with Prang I decided to try a different brand. I chose a set of Daler Rowney Simply watercolors which come in a tube. Using them out of the tube was nice but I was afraid I was using too much and throwing way too much since I didn’t have a palette I could devote to just the Daler Rowney set. I heard you could squeeze the tubes into pans and let them dry and use them that way so I bought an inexpensive palette to give it a try. Since letting them dry, I have only tried using them once and wasn’t impressed. I gave up too quickly and switched back to Prang. I’ll have to try playing around with them again in the near future.

Because of the vibrancy of color in the Week 31 class I mentioned earlier, I decided to work with Prang. I had worked with it enough to know I could possibly recreate what the instructor was teaching and indeed they did. I love, love, love this class! Andrea is a great teacher. She took the time to demonstrate and discuss every step of her process in creating her page or art piece.  She made it easy to reproduce her results even though I wasn’t using the same products she was using. She even gave suggestions as to what you could use if you didn’t have exactly what she was using. This is what I created.

IMG_1208 copy

My only disappointment with what I created was my lettering. I ran out of room for the word YOUR in “LET YOUR LIGHT SHINE”. There is an R at the end but when I cropped the picture I took, it removed part of it but that is okay. After all, this is about learning. In the future I could stamp the letters in reverse or use smaller letters. But definitely need to be more careful in my planning instead of just putting down the letters and hoping they will fit.

I loved this lesson so much, I had to create my own page. I pulled out my handmade art journal which I had made using watercolor paper. I decided to do a full two page spread but wasn’t sure exactly what I would do. I had an image in my mind of two faces (female) and heard in my head to create something that would represent my sun sign Gemini. Gemini being The Twins, I have always felt an affinity towards shadow and light, duality, and opposites or mirror images of everything. I am almost always in a conflicting state of mind because I can see both if not several sides of a situation, idea, belief and so on. I needed to reflect this in my spread.

I started out by drawing two faces on opposite pages. I wanted them to look as closely alike as I could while being mirror images of each other. One representing shadow and the other representing light. Their hair and background would merge to hopefully show there is no defining line between the two. Here is a photo of my complete spread:

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I will say again, both of my paintings were done with Prang watercolors. I can’t say enough about them, although recently I looked up their light fastness. From the tests I have seen others do with Prang, I wouldn’t want to create a painting for hanging on my wall because they will fade significantly. Using them for my art journal however should be fine. This means I need to start buying a small set of the more expensive watercolors to give them a try to see which ones I would enjoy using.

Did I say I really really LOVE working with watercolor?

This is a conundrum for me. In my day to day life, at work, at home, doing whatever I do, I want to have control or know exactly what will happen and how. This is exactly the opposite of what happens with watercolor. If you try and control watercolor you will either under work it or overwork it. To use watercolor you need to let go of the need to control and wait, watch and see what happens. Maybe the reason I love watercolor so much is because it finally lets me just let go and stop worrying about how perfect everything has to be. It frees me. It allows me to just be without expectations.

This is one of my first real attempts at using watercolor to do something other than just an abstract collection of colors that bled and merged together. This is what made me fall head over heels in love with watercolor. This was from a lesson in 21 Secrets, Tools & Techniques. The class is called Flowing Facial Features and taught by Jodi Ohl another magnificent teacher.

I still find myself hesitating when I think about doing something in watercolor. It can be so intimidating because of the need to just let go. Like I said earlier, my natural tendency is to try and control everything in my life so working with watercolor, even though I love it, comes with a challenge to step outside of my comfort zone. What I need to remember is I’m rarely disappointed in what I can create using watercolor.

These are two more pieces using watercolor. I absolutely enjoyed this class, another Life Book 2017 class. This one titled, Letting Your Story Surface, taught by a wonderful teacher, Mandy van Goeije.

It amazes me how many different ways there are to create art, even with just one medium, like watercolor. So far I haven’t found a technique or way of working with watercolor that I haven’t enjoyed.

Did I say how much I LOVE, love, LOVE watercolor? (I warned you… hahaha)


2 thoughts on “Watercolor and Shadow & Light

  1. Wow. Just wow. Shows what an artist can do with a tool. Your work shows how much you love watercolors, Patti. I can’t believe you can get such fine detail in those eyes. I love everything you showed. It sparkles.

    When you empty the Prang color, you could fill up the yellow with the Daylor Rowney. Anyway, I haven’t worked with wwtercolor very much. Hardly at all. Your work is inspiring.

    Thanks for subbing my YouTube channel. I don’t do many videos, not really intending to. But I love sharing my work.

    Hugs, Barbara


    Liked by 1 person

    • I focused on eyes before I started really working on faces. There is a trick with watercolors I learned while watching thefrugalcrafter. She does live streams and works a lot in watercolor. You can get fine details with watercolor by not using a lot of water and a fine brush and working on either dry paper or over dry watercolor paint. Also, because I do mixed media, sometimes I add details with pens, colored pencils or paint markers after the watercolor is dry. I never thought you could layer with watercolor but learned if you let it dry and use a light touch with the next layer the previous layer won’t move very much. I’m still working on that one. I think I did add some of the yellow Daler Rowney to the pan already. If not, I’ll probably go to my local art store and find a tube of watercolor yellow of a different brand to try out. You just gave me a fabulous idea of using the Prang set that is getting low as a palette for testing other brands and keeping a record of what I try out. THANKS!

      I watched one of your other videos, the one called 2017 Red Glue Book. You make me wish I had all the stuff like you do to clean off my desk to put in a book but I don’t. I love seeing other people’s work, sometimes I get ideas from them and sometimes I just like to see what they enjoy doing. (I really loved the page with your doodled flowers or plants. I think it was my favorite.) A lot of times I get into this self-psychoanalysis thing where I try and figure out why their way of making art doesn’t appeal to me. For instance I have tried your way, even started trying to collect stuff to collage with like magazines and old books from thrift shops and such but my artist brain just doesn’t find it enjoyable. Most of what I did buy is sitting around not being used. Thank goodness I stopped before I had a huge pile of it. I finally realized that time and again when I do try and use those things, the artist in me will whisper things like, “but you didn’t make that”, so apparently my artist feels the need to make the things I use, like collage papers. I love old text paper which is fine on its own for collage for my backgrounds but even better if I’ve stained them, inked them, sprayed them or stenciled on them. I even want to create my own stencils and stamps. I don’t usually want to use those bought from a store but will in my art journal pages sometimes. I like the feeling when I use things I created. I would love to find a way to have a couple of my faces from Inktober created into stamps but haven’t found anyone here in Canada. I’ve searched online and found a couple companies in the states but I’m trying to avoid those dang shipping fees and custom fees. I may just try carving a couple of them myself once I get the tools and supplies. I want them a bit bigger than an eraser and not sure if I could cut them fine enough from the kids fun foam.

      I’m rambling… lol.. I was listening to one of Dede’s videos on collecting ideas, so now I need to go write it all down.. lol

      You are welcome on the subbing of your channel. It is easier to find you and check once in a while to see if you added anything. Too many things get lost on Facebook these days to rely on it and email notifications sometimes get ignored by me because of too much email these days. If I got this much crap in my snailmail mail box I’d need one of those super large mailboxes and have to empty it every day or it would be overflowing. lol

      Hugs, Patti


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