Several days ago, my art books arrived. I’m returning Illustrating Nature: How to Paint and Draw Plants and Animals because it was a big disappointment. It’s more of a book of pointers and advice than a genuine how-to. I also ordered The Colored Pencil, which looks great, but I haven’t really looked at it properly yet. No, I’ve been too taken with Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About Watercolor. I’ve fallen in love with watercolour painting. I’ve barely put paint to paper, but I love it.
For those of you who know me, or have been reading this blog for a while, you probably know that when I do something, I never do it casually. I go all out, or as far out as my budget and time will allow.
Watercolour painting doesn’t require an enormous amount of supplies, but the supplies you do need are expensive. Decent brushes, decent paint, and decent watercolour paper are very dear. A 24-whole pan set of decent paints will set you back nearly £40…and that’s for the student-grade paint, not the artist quality stuff. 12 sheets of small watercolor paper? £5. And don’t even get me started on brushes.
A few of the supplies I already have: I bought a pad of watercolour paper when I was in the States last time, as well as a few ok-ish brushes. I have some watercolour paints, but they’re cheap. Really cheap.
As if the cost weren’t bad enough…that expensive paper? It’s got to be stretched. Yeah, stretched. As if you (or dh) haven’t slaved away long enough at work in order to buy the stuff, you’ve also got to devote more time to stretching it, otherwise it will buckle when you paint. And dang it, I’m not one of those people who can just say, ‘Oh, forget it, I’m just gonna paint!’ And, of course, there’s stuff to buy for that as well. One of these days, I’ll be able to buy The Perfect Paper Stretcher. But for now, I’m settling for using long tacks and a folding tray, so I’ve only invested £1.45 for this stretching business. I may invest in some gummed tape to keep the edges from buckling.
So why don’t I just use the cheap stuff? After all, you can get a set of 24 watercolour tubes for £4, a set of brushes for £3, and paper for £2. Obviously, there’s an astronomical difference in quality. Cheap paints are less transparent, don’t blend as well, dry up in their packaging more quickly, can look chalky, and can fade. Cheap brushes are rough, fall apart, the bristles bend more easily, and you cannot get the same results as you would using something better. But the biggest reason: it’s more enjoyable, satisfying, and rewarding when you use the good stuff stuff. I’ll just have to be patient and save my pennies. 🙂
Everything You Ever Wanted To Know About Watercolor isn’t what I’d call a beginner book. It is, but it’s not a pick-up-and-go book. It has lessons, but they’re difficult (for me anyway). It’s not a beginner’s lesson book. The book is full of amazing information, but I need bare-bones lessons, too. Which is why in place of Illustrating Nature I’m getting Watercolor Basics – Let’s Get Started. This is a book for absolute beginners, and I can’t wait for it to arrive so I can get cracking.
Not that I haven’t started painting. I think my nature journal is going to be more of a flower journal. I love painting flowers. Today I painted this tulip. I know my painting isn’t good, it’s too flat, and I have blending issues, but I think it has a prettiness about it and I like looking at it. (It looks better in real life.) It’s probably just the colours. Two things I learned from this painting: the paint is easier to work with when it’s really wet and you should use the biggest brush you can. This was painted using a cheap pan set on heavy-weight printer paper.
What other goodies have I purchased? A colour wheel, a folding palette, a pocket sketch book, and the Winsor & Newton Cotman Sketcher’s Pocket Box. The pans are tiny and it doesn’t include black (I found a black pan at Hobby Craft). I bought this for 2 reasons:
- Maybe this is a passing thing and I’ll decide I’m not really that keen on watercolour painting, in which case I can pass the set on to Esa. (Highly unlikely as I’ve always been drawn to watercolour paintings, paints and other artist paraphernalia and I get a huge thrill out of painting).
- It’s so portable and great for travelling and field sketching.
Once I know for sure I’m going to stick with this, I’ll spring for the 24 whole-pan set. When I’m rich, I’ll buy the large pans.
What else is on my wishlist?
- Lessons or an instructional DVD
- Winsor & Newton brushes
- Table top easel
- Ceramic palette
- Brush caddy
- Natural sponge
- Keys to Drawing
Here is a delightful YouTube video I came across.