Let the Paint Lead the Way

Anyone who has spent any time with watercolors knows that those mischievous paints can’t always be controlled. Of course, in skilled hands, watercolors can be coaxed and guided into lovely images. For the rest of us, creating with watercolor is largely a matter of luck.

I felt like I got lucky this morning with two small watercolor paintings. I had the same inspiration in mind with each painting, but approached them differently. As I began putting my watercolors on the  paper, I stepped back and let the paint lead the way. As a result, I ended up with two very different paintings.

First, using my gansai set, I painted this scene.

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Not the best image. I tried scanning it but the colors were too light. In this photo, it all looks a bit dark. But notice the image of the trees in the right foreground. This is where the watercolor led me to go. It wasn’t a planned part of the picture, just one of those things that happened as I was painting. My primary intent — no pun intended since I was using primary colors — was to create the effect of light in the sky. In this photo it looks a bit heavy-handed. In the actual painting it’s a bit more subtle.

After completing this painting, I still had a little painting time, and I wanted to play a bit more with my watercolor inks. So, I painted the same scene, but it turned out much, much differently. Again, I just let the watercolor do what it wanted. Here’s the result:

Scene 2

I didn’t put as much light in the sky in this one because I loved the natural focal point the paint created, so I didn’t want to do much more to it. It was one of those times when my artist brain said, “Walk away,” and I’m glad I listened. I think this is one of my favorite watercolors I’ve done.

But I don’t feel I can really take credit for either of these paintings. All I did was put the paint on the paper. It went where it wanted, did what it wanted to do, and I’m happy. Yep. I got lucky this morning.

So, my day is starting off in a good way! I hope you have a great day, too.

16 Comments

  1. Both paintings are intriguing and well executed, whether by chance or design. Accepting chance as a tool is a great step forward. It also helps us to avoid overworking things. It takes some of us, myself included, a long time to get over the idea that we must always be in control.

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    1. Yes, exactly! I was so proud of myself for saying “I like it just the way it is, so I’m walking away,” and then doing it! LOL. Usually I have to go back and fuss with something “just a little more.” This time I really did walk away. 🙂

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  2. I generally agree with Alli Farkas, above. The temptation here is to say you were “lucky” and this “just happened” because you didn’t use your brain at all. That’s self-deprecation, which may assure some of your more stupid friends. But self-deprecation it will only defeat you, as it did your stupid friends. I suggest you make a daily practice of this watercolor approach. Do about 4 to 6 every session. BTW, how big are these?

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    1. These are each half a sheet from a 9 x 12 watercolor pad. I enjoy playing with that size when I’m doing watercolor. I don’t do watercolor every day. It’s something to have fun with in between my oil paintings. 🙂

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