Saturday, June 13, 2015

Tips for painting loose

Last weekend I attended a workshop with Doug Mays. He is a talented Canadian watercolourist. He has a loose style that I admire. Of course I won’t be painting loose after just one workshop. However, I did learn a few tips that I should work on and thought I’d share them with you:

Tip: Paint standing up
Painting while standing makes it harder to add details.  By being further from the paper, you are required to make broad strokes that flow.

Tip: Use a big brush
Painting with a big brush makes it harder to add details. A big brush encourages you to use your whole arm to make broad and sweeping strokes. Preferably, use a flat brush instead of a round one because you're wanting to paint strokes with greater impact.  I use mostly round brushes so this one is not easy.

Tip: Leave stuff out
It’s more interesting for the viewer if he or she uses his brains to fill in missing details. Therefore, there is no need to put down every single thing. Take a long hard look at your subject, trying to decide which are the essential bits.

Tip: Step back often
Step away from your painting often and then decide whether you want more detail or not. You'll be surprised at how little can be necessary to capture the essence of something.  Try squinting the eyes to see large shapes - to see essential shapes.

Tip: User fewer strokes
If you look carefully at a loosely painted watercolour, you’ll often note there are few stokes. Each stroke looks confident. These artists put down paint once, correctly, and then leave it. Any touching up kills it. This means you have to go slowly and deliberately. Loose looks fast, but as far as I can tell, it is slow.  I've also notice that these artists tend to work with a thicker consistency of paint than I do - it's been described as buttermilk consistency and in some areas butter consistency.

I'm sure that there are many more tips out there. However, why not go at it slowly as it is not easy to learn a new style.

Here is a painting from Doug Mays:

Have a great week,

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