Rippled Water Exercise 2: #2

Welp, strike 2. This one is far better than the previous attempt, but it isn’t what I intended. I started getting really REALLY muddy on the left, and called it.

For a few reasons I am struggling with this exercise. 

1) I am not planning enough. I’m trying to capture the spontaneity I see in Ron’s painting in the book, but I realize now that spontaneity arises from mastery. I can’t be spontaneous until I am able to paint what I want. Then I’ll loosen up enough to the point where I’m able to lay strokes down with confidence. Right now, I’m still too trepidatious which causes me to second guess my stroke, and revisit it. Revisiting is ok, but revisiting to “fix” something in watercolor almost always exaggerates the flaw. I’m going to abandon the spontaneity in my next attempt, and try to paint what I see in Ron’s painting with more discipline. At the end of the day, I don’t think I will adopt his style, the colors are more saturated and the lines are more bold than I like personally, but for the sake of being a good student, I’m going to stop pretending like I know better, and I’m just going to follow along.

2) I’m not being careful with pigment selection. I want my painting to be more neutral, with reserved splashes of intense color. But at the same time, I’m trying to paint what I see on the page, which has a lot of vibrant colors. My initial color choices are neutrals, which are made by mixing pigments. Then, I go back into those neutrals and try to liven them up by adding warmth. This ends up creating mud instead. I need to stick to my rules on pigment selection and choose high-staining pigments first, and progress to low-staining pigments later.

3) I’m trying to complete the painting too quickly. Instead of layering thin washes on top of each other, I’m layering thick washes on top of each other. The only source of light in the medium comes from the paper beneath the pigment. By obscuring the paper with successively thick applications of pigment, I get dull lifeless shadows. Instead, I should explore more wet on wet. Put down clean water on the small area I intend to paint, and add colors to that, letting them mix on the paper. This should give me more luminescent layers.

4) I’m doing too much. While I’m trying to follow along with the exercises in the book, I’m simultaneously trying to weave in other lessons I have learned by watching artists on YouTube. Instead, I should save exploration for after I’m able to paint what Ron tells me to paint.

There are some things I like:

1) That golden cliff face looks great. It’s sandwiched between neutrals which greatly enhances the vibrancy of the cliff face.

2) The blooms in the waves were intentional, and I like the way they emulate the chaotic randomness of water.

3) The fat trees are working well. Here, I’m much more neutral than Ron, and I’m having success and confidence with that. I’m going to keep doing what I’m doing there.

4) The grasses on the lower right frame the scene, and balance the weight of the cliffs on the right. I think I’ll add them again.

5) The purple/blue cliffs in the back came out the way I wanted them too. I was worried that I used too much quin purple there, but the warmth in the purple really helps give them an appropriate tone. I’ll do that again if I can.

That’s all for now. I have the next version going now. I don’t think I’ll be able to finish it tomorrow – I’m going to try to be more disciplined, which will require waiting longer between layers to ensure the previous layer is fully dry.

I’m super sleepy. Gnite.

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