After seeing my “After School” painting, a good friend sent me a photo she took while traveling in Nicaragua, which she said reminded her of my narrative painting. (see March 31 post- After School) I thought the photo would be a perfect subject for a poured watercolor approach. I will be teaching this technique in Telluride, CO this summer. If you are intrigued by this method, you can register with this link- poured watercolor workshop
As with many of my paintings, the first step is a study in ink or pencil. Lately I have been using ink. These studies are important to determine values for the many pours, along with defining edges and movement in the painting.
After transferring the drawing to 140 pound Arches watercolor paper, I begin masking and pouring the multiple layers of color and value. Now that Adobe Photoshop is so popular, many more people understand the process of poured watercolor. One must think in layers from light to dark. Details can be painting early and masked, or the area can be defined after all the masks have been removed and the layers integrate into a composition. I do both depending on the colors needed and the type of detail I will be adding. Street scenes have far more fussy details than the landscape and horse compositions I have been pouring, so I’ve been improvising the best ways to define details. If the details have complimentary color in the adjacent background, it works best to paint and mask the details before pouring to keep the colors pure.
After the final pour is dry, the mask can be removed. This is the time to clean up edges, define shapes, and resolve the composition. Sometimes this step is like unwrapping a present; the painting revealed under all the drips, masks, layers, and pours is glowing and almost done. Other times, removing the mask presents a conundrum; how do I pull all the elements together? This painting presented a conundrum. I studied this step of the painting for several days before adding the final touches.
After much study, I cleaned up the painting and started to add dabs of paint in ways that would unify the artwork. This took a few days, some brainstorming, some problem solving, and outside eyes to discuss where things needed to go. I was pleased with the solution. This painting evolved organically, and the original painting I saw in my mind’s eye was not the final result you see here. As artists, we must be flexible and listen to what the painting is telling us.