For the last two years, Strathmore Paper has sponsored free online classes beginning in January. This year, the first class doesn’t start until March and I found myself revved-up with wanting to learn something new. But, I surprised myself by turning to a medium I’ve never quite explored fully—watercolors. Oh, before I learned about acrylics I played with little student kits with the big tins of cake watercolors, watercolor pencils, and thick watercolor crayons.
Maybe I was also influenced by my current reads, Journal Spilling by Diana Trout and Journal It! by Jenny Doh where artists praised watercolor use in art journals, since it’s not as sticky as acrylics.
Before my 2006 tour of Ireland, I ordered a small and nifty fold up case holding 12 Windsor & Newton ½ pans, a flat water bottle, a tiny sponge, and folding travel brush. It was very cute. But trying it out the first time, I hated the results and decided not to take it with me.
Last week I dug out the kit, took an unused commercial watercolor journal down from the shelf, selected a large round no. 14 synthetic brush, and played. Perhaps it was the tiny brush holding me back. I like large swatches of paint on the page, not dainty filling in of sketches. Opening up the kit, I removed all the tiny ½ pans so the big paintbrush could get in and around the paint. With no expectations I would like watercolors any more than I did the first time, I was just going to experiment and treat them, as Diana Trout says in her book, “as a coloring agent”.
I was very pleased with my results and continued to play with them all week. I definitely found a new challenge! I tried things I’ve done with acrylics, just to see if they could be done or would fail. Some things worked, some things didn’t. I’m not greatly impressed with using Art Alternatives “Pen & Ink” watercolor books. With 122 lb. paper, it warps a LOT, the perforations on every page allows paint to sink in to previous page spreads, and I don’t always want to work in landscape format. I honestly don’t know why every competitor wants to imitate Moleskine’s elastic band and back pocket, either. I’ll be making some of my own journals soon to try all kinds of watercolor paper I have on hand—hot press, cold, press, and rough press. It will be interesting to experiment and see if I like hot press for watercolors as much as I love it for acrylics.
But, I am enjoying my friendly acquaintance with this other water medium. I’m so curious, I ordered watercolors in tubes to discover the difference from pan colors and see which ones I like best. It is such fun to experiment. I’ll try using some mixed-media over the watercolors, also. I’m definitely going to use it in new art journals. But, that is another blog post!