Getting Back into Watercolors

I still remember when I was introduced to watercolors in high school. I wasn’t sure I was going to like them because of their reputation that they’re hard to control. It didn’t make anything better for me that I was issued a very basic 8-pan set. If I wanted any other color outside of the basics, I had to make it myself. But somewhere along the way, watercolors grew to be my favorite medium. They went from being among the hardest to control to being one of the easiest—and surprisingly one of the most forgiving. As my understanding of color theory grew, the “limited” palette became a welcomed challenge rather than a hindrance.Artfully-Megan-Landscape-Watercolor

My recent use of watercolors has been limited to my art journal and mixed media projects. I have been trying to get back to my old favorites—landscapes and portraits. I like to take my time with these subjects, but I don’t always have that time. This is probably the reality for every creative and I’m still learning how to nourish my inner artist in the face of these time constraints.

I’ve been trying to set myself up for success by choosing projects I know I’ll be able to finish. I purchased a pack of artist tiles and they’re probably among the smallest surfaces I’ve worked on. I’m a fan of small brushes, so it was a treat trying to work the detail into a smaller area.

Artist Tile - Portrait

Over the next several weeks, I’m hoping to get some posts together about how I learned to love watercolor. I’d like to share some of the techniques I thought really helped me to grow as an artist. Hopefully it will inspire some of you and I’ll get to learn new things, too!

Artfully Megan Signature

Do you like using watercolors? What are your favorite ways to use them?

No white paper?!

I can easily say that I’ve been an arts enthusiast for my whole life. I can’t remember a time I wasn’t surrounded by art supplies, even during those periods I wasn’t artistically active. That being said, it was definitely a shock to me that there was no white paper in sight when I got the hankering to draw.

But that wasn’t going to stop me and I guess that’s just part of being creative. What seems like a block ultimately becomes a creative challenge so instead of trying to reach for what was familiar, I pulled out my drawing pad of black paper. Once I got going it admittedly felt a little nostalgic. It felt like a throwback to my high school art classes where we were just starting to learn about negative space. Even though using black paper wasn’t part of my original plan, it did feel good to have somewhat of a brain teaser. Rather than laying down dark colors to create shadows and contrast, I had to figure out how to utilize the black background. In the past, I had only used white conté crayon, chalk, or pastel so this time I decided to try it with a little bit of color.

Fan Art of Luke Bryan

Fan Art of Luke Bryan. Colored pencil on black paper. (December 2014)
Supplies: Prismacolor colored pencils, Prismacolor colorless blender

It may be a little-known act that I’ve been really into country music lately–both new and old. So the subject of my drawing was country star, Luke Bryan. Coincidentally, he also won the American Country Countdown Award for Male Vocalist of the Year last night!

Artfully Megan Signature

Have you worked with black paper before? What are your favorite ways to use it?