What Do You Want to Paint?

TheCopperheadDSC_0084_107 18 x 22 image                                The Copperhead  watercolor 18″ x 22″

I want to share a bit of a story about some of my paintings. I have been painting Indians for about 20 years or more. These are not made up characters. Rather, they are friends and relatives who hold deeply to their traditions. They are living human beings that I have known for many years. We have laughed and cried together, we have faced challenges together.  A lot of folks don’t understand because they don’t have similar experiences in their life.   I’ve had some who would often say, “Oh no, are you painting ANOTHER Indian?”  Well,  yeah I am.  I’ve had occasions when I have asked myself, what is the point?  Sometimes it gets hard to continue on a road. This is true when you get a lot of questions about why you are following a given path.

About 3 years ago a dear lady named Mary Whyte took a look at some of my paintings of my relatives and friends. One  of her comments was, “Hey, I think you are on to something here.  Keep it up!”   Well, I have and now I am looking at a possible traveling exhibition that will record a little known portion of America.

Why am I telling you this?  I have a motive. I can write reams about watercolor technique or the do’s and don’ts of just about any technique. You must remember one thing.  Technique is only a part of the equation.

What is in your heart? What drives you to paint? What are you willing to continue to paint even if no one else understands?

Perhaps better stated what is it that you can’t avoid painting?  What draws you, what drives you to pick up that brush and try one more time?  What ever that something is; that is your passion.

I do paint other subjects.   I recall listening to Raymond Kinstler urging us to not only paint figures but paint landscapes, paint still life. Get outside and paint. Leave the fear behind.  Certainly learn some techniques. Find the best instructors you can and above all paint.  The more you paint, the more you learn.  I hope my words don’t make it sound too simple.  No, it is hard work.

However, it is work that brings joy.  

Every one of you who reads this has a still small voice inside of you.  You have your likes and your dislikes.  Find your path and travel it. Listen to your heart.

What about technique?

Yes, technique is important.  Make your brush strokes count. Do you merely want to render a surface or do you want to use strokes that help build the sense of form.  Think about this. Do you know what your colors can do?  Mix them to find out. Write  notes so you will remember. Pretty soon it will become a part of you.

If you have read this post you know that I have produced a new on-line watercolor course. I designed it with a method in mind. It is one thing to demonstrate or show finished watercolors.  It is quite another thing to share principles. I developed several easy exercises. Nothing complicated.  Just simple exercises that will help build confidence and share knowledge. The tutorials cover fundamental elements like paper, paints and brush handling; it is these things that build competence.  Nothing fancy, at first.  It helps you plant a seed.  Nurture it with thought and work.  Watch it as it grows.   You can analyze this foundation below.  the copperhead2DSC_0012_99 22x30 image

Under painting: this is the foundation.   Two colors; Holbein Marine Blue and Winsor & Newton Permanent Magenta were used. Note the areas of concentration. Both colors are staining colors which means they are not likely to be lifted or disturbed by additional washes applied over them. Also note  that in some areas the wash is applied directly to dry paper. How can you tell?  Look at the edges. If they are sharp and crisp it is a light wash applied directly to dry paper. At the end of the arm and around the back of the head you see soft edges. Some are wet ‘n wet while other areas were applied in a direct manner and the edges were softened with clear water. The colors were chosen for their staining ability to help create transparent washes but also because they can help amplify the effect of flesh.

What is the point?

Use the technique to create an effect. Use your brush to suggest form not to just merely color in an area.  Even a pointed round red sable has the ability to create interesting texture by dragging the side of the brush across the paper. Experiment, explore.

Want to know more about watercolor?  

Mastering Glazing Techniques in Watercolor, Volume 1 by Dr. Don Rankin

h41HN4wIAWgLttp://www.createspace.com/3657628

DVD: The Antique Shop, 56 minute tutorial selecting and painting a site

http://www.createspace.com/350893

On-line  watercolor course, by Don Rankin  lifetime access. Watch the lesson, do the lesson, learn the lesson. Review as often as you like.  https://www.udemy.com/mastering-glazing-techniques-in-watercolor  Regular price $49 .There may still be some reduced coupons available at $20 off the regular price. MGTIWa.  Slots limited!

About masteringglazingtechniquesinwatercolor

Watercolor painter and author of several watercolor books on painting technique.

Posted on January 16, 2014, in Don Rankin watercolors, watercolor glazing techniques, Watercolor painting and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 6 Comments.

  1. Wow is an understatement! This painting speaks volumes to me and then to read the “why” you painted it spoke even more. I was asking myself this very question earlier today but I did not come up with an answer like yours. Your willingness to share what you know and how you give to those of us you may never meet is so rare these days. Thank you. Those two words are certainly an understatement for what you do.

  2. Thanks Karen. After all of the words are spoken it is the picture that must stand. I am glad that my work has spoken to you. I was blessed with some very prominent teachers. One thing they demanded. They freely gave to me and they told me to freely give to others.

  3. Hey Don, from a fellow artist, I would have to say your story on what to paint is something I always felt, but was never able to express. Great advice and beautiful work. Hal

  4. Hal,
    Thanks for your comment. You know I’ve been teaching for years. While techniques are important I think after a while we must deal with the passion that drives us. Certainly listening to a three year old attempt their rendition of a master piece on drums or piano can be unnerving. No doubt they have passion but it is unbridled. I’ve seen too much unbridled passion in painting. Hopefully, I can help strike a balance.

  5. Wow! What a wonderful and moving post. Thank you for taking the time to share your love of painting Indians – your story is amazing and wonderful.

  1. Pingback: What Do You Want to Paint? | Don Rankin's Watercolor Studio

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