As “sunny” as it is, this little painting made me mad.
I got over it, but still.
The reason it made me mad has to do with a story that would be interesting if you found the crazy artist process interesting. Do you? OK, then . . .
I have been a watercolor painter all my life.
I have wanted to paint on canvas all my life.
Those two things do not go together. You just don’t use watercolor on canvas. It beads up, it washes off, it needs protection from UV and moisture. It just ain’t done. Blah blah blah.
First, I tried to convince myself to use other media on canvas to see if I could get happy: acrylics, oils, waterbased oils, inktense pencils, which worked well but did not have the feel of “painting” which I love. Most recently, I have been working with Holbein Acrylic Gouache, which has been the most satisfying thing so far, but it is opaque, and is more like acrylic or oil than watercolor.
But I LOVE watercolor.
I have tried coating the canvas with all kinds of things and adding all kinds of other things to the watercolor paint itself. All kinds of witch’s brews and magic potions. Yes, I have tried watercolor canvas and really did not like it for a variety of reasons.
I have stacked up (literally) a _ _ _ _ load of blank canvases in my studio. If I had that fear of the blank canvas thing that some others have, I would be too scared to go in there at all.
I want to use those canvases up. I want more space for my glass.
And MEANWHILE . . . I have noticed over the past year or so that my painting has gotten into my sketch journals – iwatercolor of course. I might work on a page or spread for days getting it just right. Those pages are no longer “sketches”. They are paintings – locked up in a book.
And lately, I feel that my actual “sketches” and simple drawings want to escape the journals and get out into the world to have some fun.
So I decided to try something I will call my “canvas sketchbook”.
I could fill all those blank canvases with ink and watercolor sketches as if they were my sketchbook pages, but they could hang on a wall. And be in the gallery!
“I’m going to loosen up,” I yelled to Mark.
“It’s still watercolor on canvas,” he said, and I tightened up again.
But determination reigns supreme.
After two entire days of non-stop experimentation, and due patly to the honey in my new favorite watercolors (M. Graham), I came up with something satisfactory. Honey is sticky, you know, and it doesn’t hate gesso as much as other watercolors.
But there were still big problems to solve . . . like waterproof ink is not waterproof unless it can sink into a surface, for one thing. And if you seal the ink drawing with anything, the watercolor REALLY won’t stick.
I just kept experimenting until I came up with a ridiculously elaborate way to do “simple” ink and watercolor sketches on canvas, having to do with layering varnishes and washing the drawing off a couple of times . . . and so on.
“NOW, I’m going to loosen up,” I yelled to Mark.
So I grabbed one of the smallest canvases and drew a simple sunflower.
And I grabbed my watercolors to throw on some color.
After awhile, I realized I was “painting” my sunflower, not sketching, not loose, not the imperfect look I was after.
Just look at all these brushstrokes!
Making those with watercolor on canvas is pretty tricky, but is this loose and sketchy?
That’s when I got mad.
“What is wrong with me?!” I yelled to Mark. His answers (yes plural) shall go unreported.
I had to get out of “perfect” mode.
So I tried another one, this time with a “no brushstrokes” rule in place. (Who said there are no rules in art? Ha!)
Much closer to what I had in mind.
“That’s better,” said my dear husband. “It’s cute.”
My response to that “cute” word shall remain unreported.
But no brushstrokes, and it looks more like a watercolor sketch . . .
So I am happily on my way to loose and imperfect. Who knows where this may lead?
News & Stuff
Just as it did last year, my sketch journal retreat in Tubac (Arizona) has filled without ever going public. (DATES: March 23-27, 2015)
Well . . . almost filled. What we have left at this moment is one room at the B&B, the Tubac Country Inn. It is the biggest and nicest with a full kitchen and separate sleeping for two folks – one queen bed in the room and one bedroom with a door. The room is 1100 square feet! Our reduced rate is $150
So, if you or you and a friend have an interest in joining us, please email me for more details at