New Paints and Watercolor Cityscape

After my last attempts at abstract watercolor, I decided to try something different. It has been a while since I watched CeeCee painting one of her watercolor cityscapes. With what I  remembered, I decided to try my own simplified version of a cityscape with my new Koi water color set.

Supplies:

  • Koi Water Colors Pocket Field Sketch Box
  • 4 1/2″ x 6″ Artist Loft Watercolor paper 140 lb/ 300 g/m
  • blue painters tape
  • hardboard

Let me tell you. I don’t know if changing from my Prang watercolor set to the Koi water color set made a difference or if trying out a new set just put me in a different frame of mind. All I know is this. I felt completely different while working on this simple painting than I have in any other watercolor painting I have done. Trying to create a watercolor painting on my own without following any instructions always ended up with me feeling frustrated. Not this time. But before I get into that let me go back a bit.

A couple weeks ago I started looking into upgrading to better watercolor paint. Because I am on a tight budget, I wanted the most economical set at least at the next level up in quality. I wasn’t sure if I wanted pans or tubes, so I started comparing prices. I checked locally, as well as, online and after a lot of research I finally settled on the Koi water color pocket field sketch box. I felt it gave me the best options for my money.  I also heard Lindsay Weirich say good things about Koi so I felt it would be a good investment. She wasn’t wrong.

I did a quick swatch of my colors in the set so I could identify which colors I wanted to use in my painting. It is hard to tell for sure what the colors are by just looking at the paint in the pans, so creating a swatch was beneficial.

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I didn’t mix any paint. I used the paint just as it came from the pans using the water brush that came with the set. I didn’t really mix any of the paint on my paper either except where it accidentally touched another color while it was still wet, which happened on one or two of the trees. I did add a second color of green to the trees and to the bushes and grass.

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First, I want to say how easy it was to pick up the paint. All I did was let a drop of water drip onto the paint in the pan and sometimes I wouldn’t wait at all before dipping my brush into the paint. I didn’t have to wait for the paint to soak up the water in order for me to lift any paint onto the brush.

Second, I barely had to touch the paint in order to get enough to paint with, not even for the buildings. I knew Lindsay said these paints would go a long way but it was hard to reconcile that in my mind when I saw how tiny the pans are. After trying them just this one time, I know what she said is true. I will, however, have to recondition my mind to not think that I’m wasting paint when I clean my water brush on a paper towel when I want to change colors. Although I bought the paint set on Amazon when it was on sale, it was still more than I have ever paid for a set of water color paint. From what I have experienced so far, I think the set is worth the money I paid for it.

I will admit that switching from a cheap watercolor set to one that cost more and is higher quality paint created a different mindset for me when I sat down to paint. Because I felt the paint was more precious, I was very careful. I started out by picking up a small amount of paint, as small as I could to see what the results would be and was astonished to discover how fantastic the tiniest amount of paint spread across my paper.

I’ve used water brushes before so that wasn’t new to me. It worked very well for me on the watercolor paper, with picking up the paint, and also for dripping a small drop of water into the paint in the pan to get it wet. I learned quickly to wipe the excess water off the brush before picking up the paint or I would have a puddle of water on my paper. However, from watching CeeCee and Lindsay, I learned how to dab up the excess water off the paper with the brush and the brush did this rather well too.

This really is my first landscape watercolor painting. It is also the first watercolor painting where I left a lot of paper untouched. In all my other paintings when using the cheaper watercolors, I felt I needed to cover the whole surface, but not this time. Before I started to paint, I did tape my paper down using blue painter’s tape because I wasn’t sure how wet I would end up making the paper. In the end, I probably didn’t need to tape it down but I’m glad I did because I love the crisp white edge around the painting.

I knew a better quality of paint would be a bit different to paint with. I just didn’t know how it would also bring my artist’s mind into a different level as well. Is it because I know the paint is better quality or is it because the artist in me responds to how differently the paint reacts? Probably a bit of both, but I suspect more of the latter. If it is the latter, then I don’t want to think about what it might mean for those who cannot afford the higher quality supplies. If I can’t continue to buy Koi or watercolors of similar quality, will increasing my skill as a painter suffer? I hope not.

I do know this. It will be difficult to go back to Prang, at least for a while. I want to practice more with Koi to see what I can do. Then maybe I’ll go back to Prang to see if what I learned with the Koi set alters the way I use my Prang set.

 

The completion, a new beginning and hope for a new connection…

My focus comes and goes in regards to my art. It is just about 5 days short of a month since my last post and I haven’t felt like I accomplished anything even though that isn’t really true.  It is difficult to remain focused when it feels like the world around me is falling apart. This is what prompted my latest art journal spread. I wrote a bit about it in my previous post when I started it and it has taken me almost a month to complete it. Here is the completed spread:

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The flowers are a collage of flowers from napkins. I added a bit of white acrylic paint for highlights on them and her hair and face. I added more layers to her face to create more depth. Most of it is watercolor, some of it is mixed with white acrylic paint. I didn’t make any notes on the process and because of the frame of mind I’ve been in over the past month, I don’t remember the different steps I took.

On a previous spread,IMG_1427 I had tried to work with watercolors similar to CeeCee in her videos but it came out just looking splotchy. I let it sit while I worked on the above spread and returned to it after it was completed.

To try and create a background on which I could work on because the current background was too bold, I used white acrylic paint with a really wet brush and brushed it over the watercolor. In the image on the left, you can get an idea of what the background looked like after it dried and the sketch I did on one side of the spread.

The next image is of the whole spread, after I started adding color. I started with the Elegant Writer pen and using a water brush to blend it out to create some shadow. I wasn’t happy with it so I decided to try watercolor. I am often surprised how well watercolor (Prang) works over the white acrylic paint that is painted over a watercolor layer. Because I use a really wet brush with acrylic paint, the watercolor layer reactivates a bit, so what happens is the watercolor mixes a bit with the acrylic paint. The acrylic paint I use is a really cheap white paint from the dollar store. Maybe that is why using watercolor on top of it after it is dry, works so well. The water and watercolor doesn’t bead up when applying over the dried layer. I really love that it works that way. I know people say that using watercolor on top of dried acrylic doesn’t work very well and maybe a layer of watercolor ground would be needed but not in this case.

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The puppy on the right side appeared to me from the shapes in the background. I drew the outline of the puppy first before sketching a face. I make decisions as I go, so at this point, I have no idea where this will go, other than I’ll probably continue to use the same process of Elegant Writer and then watercolor mostly so it will appear cohesive. I am leaning towards using the same colors throughout but we’ll see what happens.

The below image is something I am working on periodically. It started with spraying the page with watered down acrylic paint and Tulip Fabric Dye. Some of my spray bottles are slightly clogged which creates the larger splatters. Once it was dry, I used my compass with a pencil and drew overlapping circles. I am currently coloring in the shapes using Prisma Premier Colored pencils. Other than selecting the colors to use in a shape, the choice of shape to use the colors in, is fairly random. Where this will go from here is anyone’s guess.

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To elaborate a bit on what I wrote about in the first paragraph, I’ll mention a bit about my life. Right now it feels like it is in shambles if I’m given any time at all where I can sit still to reflect upon my life. Being laid off work over two years ago is still affecting me. It has been extremely difficult to find a job that will pay enough to pay my bills without having to pull from my retirement money. This leaves me frightened as to what will happen when that money runs out. Focusing on art is difficult at best with this always hovering over me.

Sometimes, life has a way of reminding us of things we need to pay attention to. In my job search, I remembered the saying that goes something like this which is credited to Albert Einstein “The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again, but expecting different results”. When I remembered this, I realized that is what I was doing in my job hunting. With that in mind, I started taking a bookkeeping course so I could add it to my resume and hopefully provide some credentials which will come to someone’s notice when applying for jobs. I hoped too that doing this on my own would show a future employer of my willingness to expand my skills and I have the initiative to do so on my own.

I am about half way through the bookkeeping course and have enjoyed every minute of it. In fact, I was running so high on the enjoyment and excitement of doing something that quite frankly excited my brain cells that at the half way point when I decided to give myself a couple days off, I dropped so suddenly, it was hard to recover. Now I’m taking it at a much better pace while still enjoying what I’m learning.

The hardest thing for me to do is to find enjoyment in life when I have pressing concerns weighing me down. I find it very difficult to focus on my art when I am in such a state of mind. I have read some people say how art helps them through times like this. I think it does for me as well, at least when I am able to set my concerns aside and let myself sink into my art. I’m working on trying to find ways to do that more often. I know it would help tremendously if I were able to find that one job which would provide not just the financial relief I need but also create a connection which would bring meaning back into my life. I applied for one job which I hope will do just that because it would help me support alternative learning for those who want a better way of life. What could be more meaningful than that for someone who loves learning and sharing what they learn?