Sunday, September 13, 2009

Kildeer/Watercolor Scrimmage

I could have used 'struggle' just as well as 'scrimmage' but I've used the former all too often and today, as far as my football-ignorant self knows, is the first full Sunday of NFL football. No matter the word I think my intent is clear: I have difficulty with watercolor.

I didn't have time to work from life today so used an old photo as the basis for this. I was very happy with my last pastel drawing but wanted to continue my pursuit of watercolor mastery, or at least watercolor competence! It would be easy to continue with pastel and charcoal but I do love watercolor. So I want to make sure that I continue to work in it. Eventually it will come easier.

I'm not going to say much about this. But I will show many of the stages along the way. I started by putting in what I thought would be the darkest areas, as an experiment. Later I tried sponging out certain areas to regain some lightness and a new background. As the painting went on I used more wet into wet colors. Finally I reached the conclusion at top. The following are some of the stages on the way to it.


Pam Johnson Brickell said...

Keep going. I struggled for years then one magical day it happened! I pinched myself to see if it was really me painting :)

Ken Januski said...

Thanks Pam,

I keep thinking that I've learned how to do watercolor and that's what gives me the ambition to try a new one. Oops! I then find out I haven't learned as much as I thought!

It's still a learning experience but because it is that and not abysmal failure it gives me the encouragement to go on. I will be happy though when I just do one that I really do feel is accomplished and everything that I want it to be!!

Chatters said...

I struggle with watercolours too, I usually use them with acrylics, which is a bit of a cop out isn't it. I can imagine this is a good learning curve. Keep going, it looks like you are improving all the time. Your paintings are lovely

Ken Januski said...

Hi Chatteers,

The more I investigate the more I think everyone struggles with watercolor! It can be very difficult but also very beautiful and expressive. I guess that's what makes the learning curve worth it!

I have a real predilection toward transparent watercolor so for me I wouldn't want to use acrylic. But people I admire, like John Singer Sargent, loaded up their watercolors with other materials, including lots of opaque white, so there's no doubt that good artists use whatever best suits them! I wouldn't consider it a cop out unless it bothers you yourself.

Even then I think that all artists are not above a little cheating if they determine that that is what is necessary in order to finish off a good work. I remember the first time I saw a Degas pastel where he had attached extra paper because he'd run out of room on the paper he was drawing on. That seems like a beginner's mistake but even Degas made it. And he went along and added it anyway, I assume because he thought that was the only way to get the drawing he wanted!

Thanks much for your compliments on my work. I do like this one in a way, but I also know that I still have a long way to go.......

Ken Januski said...


I see I've given you a new name: Chatteers. Sorry about that. I do know your real name but was just typing too quickly:-)

Kelly said...

...I'm starting in with watercolor as well. It is difficult, but I love it. I really like all the saturated color and action in your backgrounds and the bird is stellar.

Ken Januski said...

Hi Kelly (or, per your blog, is it Peanut?),

Thanks for your comments!

Yes watercolor is difficult but as you know capable of the most beautiful results. I can't wait to try it again, difficulties and all.

I'm just recovering from a 2700 mile drive over last week or so that included birding at a site you recently visited, Magee Marsh. Also included was Horicon Marsh in Wisconsin.

I hope very soon to do show some work based on that trip, and also pay a longer visit to your site. I'm sure I'll have something to say, both about your work, and your visit to Magee. My wife and I always wish we had a lot more time when we visit.