Summer days are running away so fast that it is pretty clear: this summer is completely lost for me. I am usually waiting for summer so much that I do not even live during winter. It is certainly the best time to grab our paint box, some paper and go outside.
The weather isn’t too friendly in Ontario: I cannot recall so many heat waves and so many days without a drop of rain while I am here. My mornings are spent at a clinic, afternoons: fighting fatigue, so I just will have to put off my outdoor painting for some weeks yet.
When people ask: what should I start painting or drawing with, the answer is very simple. Draw and paint anything around you. There is nothing better than drawing from real objects and real scenes. Once you get used to it, you will notice how everything is more vibrant and livelier when we paint from life.
Lots of instructions start with: take a picture. I would love to say, however, if you have something set up or around you, do not take any pictures. I mean, if it is a large work and you are afraid, you’d forget the scene, well, you might also take a reference picture. The problem is that most people want to copy their reference photos instead of just using them. I might sound like an old vinyl, but it’s so silly to copy the photo and then pretend you painted it from scratch.
That’s why we have eyes and brain; we are supposed to use them as intensively as possible.
The next thing which matters is this: once you learn drawing, you are able to draw ANYTHING. This happens because you have exercised your visual perception, developed eye-hand coordination and your hand starts perceiving impulses from your brain.
Is it important to stick with colors which somebody else is using? Not at all. It is much more interesting to explore and develop your PERSONAL color combinations. I also find that paints of different brands act very differently. My favorite watercolor paints are St. Petersburg artist grade paints. I haven’t seen anything else which has such transparency and allows mixing up all sorts of shades that easily. It is almost impossible to get a dull painting with these paints. The secret is the natural and pure pigments they use as opposed to many paint manufacturers who pretty much cheat and replace pigments with filers and binders. That means chemicals which do not enhance color or paint application.
Along with paints and brushes (I usually use just large round approx. size 12 and one size 6 brush for any medium size up to 20 x 24 in watercolor painting) an extremely important thing for watercolor is paper. When I am asking a student: why are you using this really thin and bad paper, they’d normally say, they are just learning and it’s not worth to spend money on a good thick paper. This is profoundly wrong assumption. Every paper will act differently. The thinner and lighter papers do not even absorb paint: it floats on a surface and creates ugly marks. It is also quite easy to lift paint, but not that easy to add more. My most favorite paper is not Arches. I do not like how paint keeps traveling through layers of paper even quite a few minutes after its application. I am using other heavy, cold press papers whenever possible.
My lovely old fence post
If you practice on a bad paper, you won’t know how much easier it is to paint on a good paper. Watercolor paper is definitely the most important part of all supplies for watercolor painting.
I haven’t done much recently because I am trying to recover. It’s already a month after surgery, but it seems like I will need a lot more time.
The current lifeschool blog post tells a story about the ugly side of success and how this can destroy lives:
I would appreciate more than anything else a purchase of any of my paintings. After such a long period of time not being able to work, any financial support would mean a lot. I can certainly offer very good deals on originals, and prints and other products on Fine Art America site are inexpensive anyway. Since people rarely read these posts, this might go unnoticed, but anyway, I hope I can get something sold, there are about 600 paintings of all sizes.