Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Five Reasons Why I LOVE Watercolors

Bella SOLD private commission
8" x 10" watercolor
 This girl had such a sweet face, she was a lot of fun to paint. I love her big brown eyes. She reminds me of a cocker spaniel my family had when I was growing up. The sweetest dogs ever. :) 

I hurt my back while I was at the gym the other day (the price I paid for doing 60 round house kicks in 30 seconds without warming up before. D-oh!) and my amazing husband and sweet kids have been taking such good care of me. So, for the first time in a long time, I've had time to just sit and think. And of course my mind turned to art. 



I realized that I've never really talked about why I love watercolors so much. So, here's my list. Let's hope it's coherent. :) 

1. They are beautiful. Watercolors have a free spirited kind of beauty that is unlike any other art medium. They have a mind of their own, and you gotta respect an inanimate object with free will.

2. They're challenging. What can I say? I like a little bit of a challenge. I love that every time I sit down to paint there's a physical challenge (the race to paint that section of paper before it dries and turns into a complete disaster instead of a thing of beauty is a bit exhilarating, and addictive.) and a mental challenge (I wonder what would happen if I layer this color on top of that color??).

3.  They're diverse. There is NOT only one, traditional, correct way to paint with them. Contrary to what is sometimes believed there is not only one, correct way to paint with watercolors. They don't always have to be loose and splashy. If that's your style and that's how YOU want to paint, then great. Awesome. I'm happy for you. But, that does NOT mean that it is the only way a watercolor can, or should be painted. 

One of the things I love about watercolor is it's versatility. There's no limit to what an artist can do with it. You want to paint a photorealistic still life of a mug of orange juice? Great. Do it. You want to paint a landscape plein air in five minutes flat with colorful, juicy washes running down your paper? Fabulous. Can't wait to see it. 

You want to combine a little of both for a portrait of your kitten?? AWESOME. Let the games begin. Keep your mind open to all the possibilities that are in front of you. There's nothing that says you have to paint a certain way in order to be a successful, or a happy watercolorist.

4. They are easy to clean up. I'm a mom. I clean up messes a lot. I think this one explains itself. 

And the number one reason why I love watercolors is. . . 

5. They call to my soul. Sometimes I get a new issue of a watercolor magazine and look at the great art in its pages and I'm surprised to feel tears building in my eyes when I see all the magnificent work there.  

I can't explain it. I don't really know why I'm drawn to watercolors the way that I am. But I am. I love them. I love the bright colors and the white paper. I love the feel of my wet brush gliding across the paper. I love the smell of my paints when I take the lid off of my palette.  I love watching my paintings transform right before my eyes as the paint and water dries. It's just magic.

I just love watercolors. And I always will. :)

Your turn. Why do you love your chosen medium?  

42 comments:

  1. Watercolors call to my soul, too. I love the precision and detail I get with pencil, which appeals to my perfectionism, but I love the diversity, the luminous glow, and freedom to be as loose or spontaneous as I feel like being with watercolor, although I can also get pretty detailed with it, as well, if I'm patient and work with it. Watercolor sings a different kind of song which reaches deep inside and it is so beautiful. Great post, and I really love what you are doing. Keep it up!

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    1. Thank you so much Tana! I'm so glad to hear that you feel the same way. And I'm with you, I like that I can have my artistic desires both ways with watercolors, if I wanna be tight I can, if I wanna be loose I can do that too. :)

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  2. Crystal, your dog portrait does have an adorable face - beautiful eyes!
    As for reasons for loving watercolor, I must agree with all the ones you have mentioned. I will only add that I don't like the smell and mess of oil paints.

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    1. Thanks Kathryn! And I have never tried oil paints, but I'm sure I would not like the mess. My mom used to use oil paints sometimes when I was a kid so I kind of like the smell of it. :)

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  3. What a darling painting, Crystal! And no doubt a delighted client!

    I love watercolors for all the reasons you mention, but don't use them myself because of #2. Actually, I have used cheap ones for pastel underpaintings, but to make a decent, formal painting...they scare me! I think beautifully done watercolors (like yours, and regardless of style) are almost magical. I have no idea how you do it, but it's clearly a medium that is perfectly suited to you.

    I think I like pastels because they are basically like spendy chalks for grown-ups and probably the easiest of all media, so perfect for me - hee, hee.

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    1. Thank you Sonya! That compliment means so much to me. :)

      And LOL about pastels being spendy chalks! I love that way of looking at it. Tee hee. :))) They suit your style perfectly and I can always tell how much you love them by looking at your work.

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  4. Sorry about your back! Hope you feel better soon. I love watercolors because they do some of the work for you with their unexpected surprises. I always try to remind myself to let watercolors be watercolors instead of trying to control them. Whenever I try to paint with acrylics I get so disappointed that it doesn't move on its own and that it dries so fast and then that is that.

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    1. Thanks Alisha! I'm starting to feel better, little by little. And I feel the same way about acrylics! :)

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  5. Sorry you hurt your back, Crystal. Good thoughts and prayers being sent your way for a speedy recovery (that is unless you are enjoying being pampered that much). I have always loved looking at watercolors form as far back as I can remember and always wanted to paint with them. I need to get back to business and start some new paintings for the art festival this July. Love your dog portrait.

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    1. Thanks Carol! I am enjoying being taken care of, but I'm ready to be all better now! I'm the same as you, I've always loved looking at watercolors. :) Good luck with your new paintings!

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  6. hope you are on the road to recovery and I agree with everything you said about watercolors, me too!

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  7. This cute little poochy is SO adorable! Nobody can paint a soul like you can and this little dog has so much of it. I love the sparkle in his eyes and the movement in his fur :0)
    I don't think I have chosen my one and only medium. I am using oils at the moment to suit the style of paintings I am doing right now and I am fairly sure that this will end up being my main medium. I just love their buttery, sumptuous feel as they glide across the canvas. That said, I have only used watercolour under the heavy and suffocating influence of a tutor, which took the joy right out of them. I am looking forward to using them again some day soon, but using my own instincts and ideas instead of somebody else s'. I am sure I will love them so much more! :0D

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    1. Oh Sandra you humble me with your lovely compliments~! Thank you! :))) And I think that oils suit your style perfectly, your bear paintings seem to be a portrait of who you are as much as they are of those sweet bears. :)

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  8. Great post, love seeing into your creative bent and can appreciate the medium you work in with such excellence. LIke this cute little mug, your watercolours are lit from within.
    Acrylics are my choice, because I can get messy and still clean up with water and they work with my need to feel textures under my fingers :-)

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    1. Thanks Bren! You are so kind. :))) And that is a great reason to love acrylics. I really like the way the paint feels under the brush when I use them too, so I totally get that tactile need, although I don't *exactly* feel them with my fingers like you do. lol. :)

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  9. Wonderful post! Yes, watercolors are challenging but they never look challenging in your paintings. They look effortless but I can absolutely tell they call to your soul. Simply lovely!

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    1. Oh thank you so much Michaele!! Hope all is well with you friend! :)) *hugs*

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  10. Oh Crystal...this little dog is beautiful. I had a brown cocker spaniel many years ago..this watercolor is perfectly painted!! As always, I love your post...as you know, I truly love working with pastels..love all the wonderful colors. I really like oils but still so much to learn...never worked with watercolors but I enjoy seeing other Artists' work.

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    1. Thank you so much Hilda! Your pastels simply glow with life, they are a perfect fit for you. :))

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  11. Bella is a beauty! And poor you!! I'm gald you're under such good care ; ) I'm still slack-jawed at what gave you the sore back! That's as impressive as Bella! LOL Heal quickly <3

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    1. Thanks so much Kim!! :)) LOL and hugs to you!

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  12. This came out great. They must be so happy with it.

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    1. Thanks so much Karen! The owner was very pleased. Always a good thing to hear :))

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  13. Its very obvious how watercolor calls to your soul! May you always have that magic !

    Its there in this little dog you have painted :)

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  14. The last point is all that actualy is. It is that fleeting moment when watercolor is taking shape using its own path with a little help from you is one to die for.

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    1. Yes that is the best moment right there isn't it? :)

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  15. Great little dog!
    Pretty much what you've written about watercolour is why I love them too. They are indeed very versatile :) xx

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    1. Thanks Pat!! :)) Glad you think so too!

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  16. very nice... thanks for exaplaining the 5 reasons.

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  17. I, too, grew up with cockers and you've captured their sweetness in your wonderful painting. I love watercolors, gouache, pastel but my absolute favorite is oil. I think oils are more forgiving than watercolor but watercolors teach you to "let go" and give up control and that's a good thing when painting.

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    1. Thank you so much Chris! :)) One of these days I will try oils and I won't be surprised if I fall in love with them too after all the great things I'm hearing about them. If I can just get over the learning curve quickly that is lol. :)

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  18. Gorgeous portrait of Bella Crystal.
    I would LOVE to say that watercolour is my favourite for all the same reasons as you, but in truth I still find them hard. To relax and feel at one with the medium, I have to turn to pen or pencil. That's where I feel truly at home. Great post.

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    1. Thanks so much John! And I think your pencil work is just beautiful John, you should feel at home there. :)

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  19. The painting sure has come out very well. The owner must be very pleased with his / her new acquisition.

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    1. Thanks Vinayak! I think she really was pleased. :))

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  20. Oh I LOVE this post! I love watercolors, too. I will never have the discipline to take them to the level you have accomplished, though. For me they are freedom & play time -- I love to dabble & feel a kinship to illustrators like Beatrix Potter or Tasha Tudor.

    I enjoy oils, acrylics, & collage but probably can express myself best with pastels - which are probably the most forgiving medium. I do have a ADD issue perhaps - cannot stay with one medium too long... Thanks for throwing out this question - I have enjoyed all the comments! :D

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  21. OH! Sorry - I left out how wonderful those soulful puppy eyes turned out! Exquisite work as always, Crystal!

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  22. crystal ... love the richness of your painting ... there is such a special magic with watercolours ..hope your back is ok .

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  23. Oh,my goodness, I got so far behind that I'm now catching up on my blog comments for the fabulous Crystal Cook. This painting is so gorgeous, your darks are fabulous, and I never can get over the way you paint eyes, goes directly to the soul. And I agree with every one of your reasons for painting in watercolor. Nothing like it:)

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Thanks so much for taking the time to leave a comment they really do mean so much to me! Because not all bloggers have their email enabled so I can reply directly through email I will try to reply here in the comments. If I don't please forgive me, life must have been hectic that day! :)) Huzzah!!

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