Tuesday, December 28, 2021

Goodbye and Good Riddance to 2021

So it's the end of the year and a few days ago I actually took up watercolor painting again. It's been decades since I did a "serious" watercolor painting. Serious means actually using a half of one of those two full sheets of D'Arches cold pressed watercolor paper I bought over a year ago. In watercolor, the paper is your ally - you can achieve all kinds of cool effects by letting the paper help create textures and shapes.

My dentist has a wonderful painting in his office, by someone who used a full sheet - extravagant! - to depict the shore of a lake at dawn. The work shows total mastery of this challenging medium; the background and middleground are done "wet into wet," in which you give the pigment plenty of water and let it radiate outward or flow in a given direction. A good sheet of paper will stay just wet enough to let this happen but not allow it to just go everywhere. Of course you have to judge the wetness of the paper carefully and fill your brush accordingly. The foreground uses "dry brush," which, as the name implies, is lots of pigment with very little water. This gives an interesting texture which can be painted over with a thin wash or left as is.

So of course I messed up the tree I started to paint right away and had to use my other ally, white tempera paint. Tempera mixed with watercolor is a medium known as gouache, and it makes the transparent watercolor opaque, at least partially. In other words, you can correct mistakes you can't correct in watercolor alone. Some painters would call this "cheating;" I say, "F u, see my April 14th post about Warhol et al."

And I was just looking at a Wayne Thiebaud work; apparently he just died, aged 101! Thiebaud did some of the juiciest paint handling I've ever seen; it's just luscious. Scroll down this article to see the picture "Pies,pies,pies" - you could almost reach into the painting and scoop up some of the whipped cream from the French silk. With a little extra tempera, I could do something similar. But then I also want to take advantage of the watercolor "wet into wet" method, to make the shadows on the trees look naturalistic but not "realistic." Because I'm still determined to turn myself into an Expressionist. More about that next year.

Some time ago I did a preliminary study for the painting I'm working on now; I used cheap, toothless paper and just kept splashing on watercolor and tempera. I thought it was just junk to be discarded but there were a couple things I liked about it so I kept it. Then I scanned a digital version of it and on looking at that I realized I had come close to acheiving what I wanted - an expression of the exuberance of nature, with the trees leaping towards the sky, the branches jostling each other as the wind blows through them, and the day lilies just flaunting themselves in their perfect orangeness. So the drawing part of the picture has to be subordinate to the colors; that's a departure for me. By the way, Happy New Year.


  1. I wouldn't wish being an expressionist painter on anyone. It takes so much out of you and seldom gives anything back.I always wanted to be able to do more realistic art but am simply not able to manage it no matter how hard I try. I never wanted to be an artist but I need to paint like I need to breathe. If I stop painting I feel like I'm drowning and can't sleep. I wouldn't wish it on anyone. It's soul sucking. Run! Don't let it happen to you.

  2. Wow, that's surprising, I had no idea you felt so strongly about it. I'm not worried about becoming an Expressionist, I think it's the next logical step for me. But you do you, as if you wouldn't anyway.

  3. The more I look at your watercolor the more I love both the look and the feel of it. Especially the way it makes me feel. My paint of choice for the last 4O years or more have been heavy bodied acrylics and painting knives as well as brushes and other tools but I can see the value of a shift to watercolors or gouache. I had switched to gouache for my design work about a year and a half ago but never considered doing regular paintings with it. now you've really got me thinking about it. Thanks.

  4. My art journey is taking a bit of a turn and I can't wait to hear where yours is headed or where it has been. Please, post again soon.

  5. I've just been to visit your gallery pages and was very impressed. "leaf" which I believe you did in 1984 has elements in it that I've just begun to include in my paintings. You are so far ahead of me that I'd love to hear more about that era of your art. Please post soon.


Don't be nasty. You know what that means.

What is art, and what do you care anyway?

YES, damnit, it IS SO art!

The other night I struggled with a moral dilemma. An ad for legaleriste.com came through my Facebook feed - this is a company that ...