The Crawl (Watercolour sketching)

It’s only recently that I bit the bullet and decided to dip into all the mediums I’ve been avoiding so far. My experience with oil painting was both engaging and exhausting, but when it comes to watercolours I have had no excuse; they’re the most practical, convenient, and least messy of the traditional painting/ illustration mediums. Perhaps that’s why I find it so frustrating that this medium, as ideal as it is, should be one I find unusually difficult to use. Everything has a learning curve, of course, but watercolours for me seem to have an exceptionally steep one. I search for the perfect subject, the perfect moment, scene, motivation, the perfect mood and tone and materials- but in the end it comes down to one thing- patience.

Watercolours aren’t as rich and full bodied as oil colours or digital paints. This, for me, has meant that they have incredible potential when combined with the lively lines and movements of a pencil sketch. Ink can be too dark, offsetting the gentle, layered hues of watercolour pigments, but graphite can work very well. A good sketch can become either a good painting or a mediocre one, but a mediocre sketch will always result in a mediocre painting at best and a bad one at worst. In my impatience to use the medium I’ve mostly started applying it to the paper way before I’ve established a decent sketch, which is probably why I’ve ended up with so many bad samples. So I guess the only conclusion I can come to for now is that watercolours must always come in when the sketch has already determined about 60% of the final image. You can only do so much with washes; the forms and lines must already be in place.

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But for all that, I just can’t seem to give up on the medium, or stop wanting to learn it no matter how much I fail. This isn’t like me; my whole life I’ve only ever invested time, energy and resources into areas where I already show some potential. I just hope this works out.

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