31 July 2009

Making Watercolor Paint Itself

Before I went away with my family, I had picked up a book on watercolor technique. It's called How to Make a Watercolor Paint Itself by
Nita Engle

Though I'm not anywhere near capable of painting what this woman can, I can't say I'm completely enamored with all her paintings, just some of them. The ones with striking contrast and beautiful gradations look nicest to me.

But it's her technique that made me buy the book. Rather than using brushes to make the paint go where she wants it to be, she uses water. Through spraying or using a fine-tipped squirt bottle, she somehow gets these amazing results. And it looked like a lot of fun to try, so try it I did.

What I learned really fast is you go through a lot of paint, and you need to have thought ahead and designated a container for all the runoff from your paintings.

Here are my first attempts at it. It's easy to overspray and end up with really washed out (yet salvageable) paintings, like this:

But if you luck out, sometimes you get nicer things like this:

There was this one, which wasn’t too bad until I ruined it:

I started with wave exercises because they seemed like the easiest to do, but threw in a foliage and pouring experiment later.

If I can better understand the way the water reacts when all these different variables come into play, it’ll make this less trial-and-error and slightly more predictable. But that’s easier said than done. I think a lot would be demystified if I could see a video of Ms. Engle painting, but to do that I'd have to buy her DVD.

Still, I like trying to paint this. The next good rainy day I get I’m pulling the paints out again.


Ms. Sandy said...

looking great! keep up the good work and definitely keep posting :)

M Shraga said...


Harold Teitelman said...

these are beautiful


Really good stuff!
Water colors unnerve me :D So I'm looking forward to Don's Layout class this year! Keep up the good work, El :)

e r i (CK) said...

I really love these pieces! I know they are just practice ones buttt i love the texture. I think they can all be used at some point! I'mma try it out!

Elyssa said...

yeah, as for the texture of it all, I definitely wish I knew about painting like this while working on thesis.