Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Watercolor 101 | The Way I See It

Every painting I create is different. I work one way for a while, for months, 
maybe years and then one day things just shift a little or sometimes a lot. 
Quite honestly the change is not always a seamless transition. I don't know why. 
Sometimes it's the subject matter or the materials that dictate working a certain way.
Maybe I get bored and it is simply time for something new. 
All I know for sure is that it keeps things interesting and keeps me from becoming stagnant. 
The way I see it is that you have to be an explorer and follow the visual tangents. 
So many of you asked questions about how I work,
and I thought I would try to reply to some of them today. 
As you read my answers, there are always exceptions and 
while I may work one way today I could very 
easily approach things differently tomorrow.
Do you have a sketchbook? 
Yes, I keep a sketchbook, but I have to admit that I do not use it very often. 
I draw in it, paint in it, paste into it and save fragments of torn up paintings in it. 
Yes, I tear up a lot of paintings. All the time. You should see my shredder. It's very colorful.

Do you paint from life, photos or both? Where do you find inspiration?
Sometimes I paint from life, create a little still life from bits of nature that I have gathered. 
I take lots of pictures as you know, but I don't often work from them directly, they just inspire. 
I gather snippets of inspiration from everywhere. I love patterns and color, 
vintage field guides and herbariums. I visit museums. I love pop culture and fashion. 
I read a lot. Words tend to inspire images the most for me. 
All of these things get jumbled in my head and influence my paintings. 
I'm obsessed with pinterest right now and arrange all of my pins by color.

Do you sketch with pencil under your paintings?
No, not usually. Every once in a while. I usually just go for it. 
I let the washes take me in a direction. I sometimes don't know what the painting is going to be. 
Sometimes I know precisely what I want to do, but watercolor isn't an exact medium, 
so things hardly ever turn out as planned! Working spontaneously keeps things fresh 
and in the moment. That said, I will be drafting a bit more for surface pattern designs 
I am working on right now, so it depends on the project too.

Please tell us about your calligraphy. Does the typeface have a name?
I just love calligraphy, lettering and handwriting and like to incorporate it into my work, 
Old letters and ledgers with elegant penmanship make me swoon. 
My lettering is done with a dipping pen, black ink, and quill type pen nib. 
It's not a particular typeface, just my handwriting which is slightly exaggerated. 
It's not true calligraphy at all. I'm also left handed, so If I can do it, anyone can. 
Changing the angle and the pressure creates beautiful lines and 
makes any old handwriting quite pretty, I think.

I hope this watercolor series has been helpful.
Don't be afraid to take risks and make mistakes. Enjoy your adventures with watercolor!
Please post any questions you have below.


Carol said...

Thanks for another 101 post!

annamaria potamiti said...

Thank you for letting us into your creative process. ;)XX

Caitlin said...

I am glad to hear you startt without drawing in pencil first. I always wondered how to paint without pencil lines showing. I will have to try that- just dive in!

holly aka golly said...

Carol & Annamaria: My pleasure.

Caitlin: I would just dive in. However, if you do want to use a pencil to map things out, just draw a very soft, fine line, make as few marks as possible and use a kneaded eraser.

lamina@do a bit said...

Thank you so much for this inspiring post on your creative process... Love it! xxx :)

emma said...

Hello Golly Bard, you inspire me. I have started a watercolour class and jump for joy when the week comes by again and it's time to paint.I don't really want to paint dreamy landscapes, still lifes of fruit or blurry boats bobbing in the harbour but I love the magic of watercolour and your art and your 101 classes are perfect inspiration. Thank you thank you for sharing your knowledge.

holly aka golly said...

Lamina: you are too kind!

Emma: Only paint dreamy landscapes or bobbing boats if you are passionate about them! Ask yourself what makes your heart flutter and you just might find something you do want to paint!

Lana Manis said...

Holly, thanks for sharing a peek into your watercolor world! I have admired your work on Etsy for a while.

holly aka golly said...

Lana: thank you for your kind words!

artist said...

Thank you for the newest installment of Watercolor 101.

I know that you use a quill type pen nib with ink but do you ever use the pen with watercolor?

I admire anyone who paints the way you do and without drawing first.

holly aka golly said...

artist: I have mixed up a little pot of gouache to try and create a custom color and match the consistency of ink, but it's trial and error and I've not found the perfect water to paint ratio for writing.

Anonymous said...

I have just discovered your beautiful work - so wonderful and inspiring. I'm so pleased to have come across it!

emma said...

Dear Golly Bard,
I have come back to ask another question. I would like to try doing some of my own lettering with a nib pen but when I try it feels very scratchy and I am unable to get a smooth flow going. Also my lines seem very thin.
May I ask you what size and type of nib do you use.
Many thanks and fare well,

holly aka golly said...

Emma: I use a quill type nib generally. I'll have to look at the size. I do not think size has too much to do with it, though. Your lines may vary more with a larger nib, but you might try different paper, changing the angle and the pressure of your pen to flow the ink, make sure you have enough ink on your pen too. Don't try to write, just dip and drag out some lines to get started and find the angle.

Jenn said...

I just recently found your blog, and I find your work very inspiring! I myself am also left handed, and was wondering if you had any tips for lefties, wishing to try their hand at calligraphy?

holly aka golly said...

The only challenge with being left handed is that we write from left to right and your hand is likely to smear wet ink. If you turn your paper on an angle it will help. Otherwise it's all the same!

Anonymous said...

Love this Holly! Thanks so much for sharing! What brand of quill and nib do you use?

holly aka golly said...

I buy the nibs and dipping pens from dickblick.com I'm not sure of the brand. They are not fancy pens. Very affordable.

blue said...

Thank you for the wonderful inspiration.

I've a question, do you sketch outdoors?

holly aka golly said...

Blue: I rarely work outside. I spend a lot of time outdoors looking and gathering and photographing. I bring things back to my studio and work inside.