Why do I love watercolor?
It is true, most people do not use watercolor in this way when they work. Often I find that collectors are curious about my use of watercolors, why I use them, and how I stumbled upon what I do. In earlier years, I have experimented with many mediums. ..growing up in an art gallery/supply shop has it’s advantages. ;)
All media have their special aspects that are their forte. ..some of which I find myself missing occasionally, like the consistency of buttery oils. However, in my experiments with all of them, none lend themselves so well to the direction I have chosen to take my work as watercolors.
Raccoon in progress, watercolor on board, ©Rebecca Latham
1. I love the variety and vibrancy of colors.
Flipping open a catalog of paints, the variety of color range available is astonishing. I have not found the truths behind why this is yet, but I enjoy them just the same. ..the only dilemma is which to use on a given painting. Pans, tubes, liquid.. naturals to glowing synthetics, opaque to clear transparent.. I even have sterling silver and gold available.
2. I love the forgiveness and ease.
I will be the first to admit.. I fuss, adjust, alter, and rearrange my work. It is just how the pieces progress. The vision of the painting begins as perfect, first stroke of brush to board is perfect, but it’s a struggle of varying degrees from then on.
Odd, I know, to consider watercolor forgiving. But as I have worked with it over the years, it has. I’m sure I’m not the only artist to feel that the medium I work in has to work with me, not against me. It simply is not productive to the creation of art if I have to pit myself against my media. If I need an additional challenge, other than dueling paint, I can always add complexity to the painting itself rather than fight the medium used to create it.
I can re-wet, and re-use, and in a sense recycle my palette after a painting session.
This was always a frustration when I worked in acrylics or oils. When using other mediums, my palette of freshly squeezed paint dries out and at the end of the sitting, or sometimes before, is dried out and wasted.. Even using special palettes to store them between painting sessions (acrylics and similar), or tossing the oils in the freezer (which, incidentally, I as always concerned would wind up sticking to the frozen peas, etc.)
4. Prompt Drying.
When I have a new idea and plan for a painting that is spilling onto my board, unfortunate as it may be, I have little patience for the first layer to dry so the work can continue. There is just something about the energy of momentum in that phase. It is not impossible to work around drying, but it interrupts the flow of the piece.
So, given the choice, I prefer that the medium does not stand in the way of the way my work progresses. I also have to admit that I dislike cleanup of brushes, palettes, etc. A quick swish in a clean pot of water vs thorough cleansing or facing ruined tools.
I have written about it earlier briefly, but I am very drawn to the history of painting this way. All art forms have their own roots, part of what makes it all so fascinating, in my opinion. Being someone that enjoys digging into facts of antiquity (art or otherwise), finding stories, meaning, and similarities in what was done or valued and how I have developed my work is intriguing to say the least.
Overall, I love watercolor simply because it suits what I enjoy doing, how I work, and my chosen style of painting. It has been such a gift to find something that fits so well.