I was at the craft store the other day during my lunch break, just looking around mostly to see if there was anything I could use my 40% off coupon on. I came across a book from my favorite watercolor artist, Stephanie Pui-Mun Law. (Also, see her blog at this address).
I haven’t done watercolor in a very long time, probably not in earnest since high school. There’s a story behind that, but for another day. Anyway, occassionally I’ll check out her site, and something deep down will stir and I’ll idly think to myself, “self, you need to get back into painting with watercolors.” A couple of years ago when this vague desire cropped up, I bought myself some new watercolor paints and paper, and some brushes. But I never ended up doing anything with them, and so they sat in a corner for a while.
Then when I came across her book (which the coupon did not work on, by the way, I guess books are exempt or something), that old flicker of interest started burning again. I bought the book. Looked at the pages (and read most of it), beginning to end. And then again. Marveled at this woman’s talent. Lamented at how I’d let my own budding talent (at least at the time), languish for so long. Then, decided, it was time to pull those paints out, and actually use them.
I have an old painting from high school that was left unfinished, so I pulled it out to see if I could salvage it (this is part of the story I mentioned previously; I’ll go more in depth on it later on). Turns out that really old watercolors and paper are pretty stubborn, as is liquid frisket. The frisket seems to be a permanent part of the painting now, as I cannot remove it without damaging the paper. My daughter seemed to like the painting, though, so my husband suggested maybe I could frame it and hang it in her room. It’s unlikely she’d notice that it’s not really finished until she’s much older. So, I may do that.
Since I really didn’t see the point of attempting to salvage the old painting that wouldn’t result in some rather unsightly damage to it, I opted to try painting a smaller, less involved version of it. I searched and searched and searched for photo references of the beautiful flowers I used in the original painting, not having the slightest clue what they are called. I finally found them after an hour or two of searching (seriously). They’re called Fuchsias, and they remind me of fairies. Beautiful.
So I found a good picture to reference, bookmarked it in my browser, and set to work sketching it. For also not having drawn much in earnest over the years, it wasn’t too shabby if I may be so bold. Then I got to painting, quickly forgetting the foremost important thing about watercolors – light to dark!! Always, always light to dark. Even on dark colors, otherwise everything looks murky. And something else I found? The student paints I have right now are rather subpar, but they’ll do for practicing. Eventually though, if I keep up the painting, I’d like to get some “Artist’s” paints of better quality, particularly if I end up feeling the need to sell anything.
In the meantime, though, after looking through Stephanie’s book, I feel inclined to try painting something I’ve never done – a human(like) figure. Actually, I have done some human figures before, in fact one is hanging on the wall of our living room running next to a horse, blindfolded, but the person is mostly in a long coat and pants, so there isn’t much to really see of their arms, legs, face or even hands. And I did do one colored pencil sketch a while ago of a little girl blowing bubbles, but that is about the extend of my experience with drawing humans. I’m starting out by practicing drawing hands and feet. I used both my own feet and my daughter’s feet as models for those (she was pretty impressed with my drawings of her feet, lol), and my left hand and pictures for models of the hand, as well as a few just to see if I could do it without looking at any reference at all. Oddly I found it almost easier to draw one without trying to copy it exactly as shown in a picture or in real life, although with feet it seems to be the exact opposite. Strange.
So there it is, I’m putting it out for the world to see, that I’m going to make efforts to pick up on my drawing and painting again after all these years. Don’t expect any masterpieces out of me anytime soon, though. I have to relearn most of this stuff! :)