MESSAGE FROM ERIC
Eric will be sharing his expertise and insights into watercolor painting to help you grow as an artist and find your own style. He will happily address any of your questions and talk about his own experiences gained since he started on this journey over 30 years ago. Every month a new article will be published. You can also sign up to receive MESSAGE FROM ERIC as part of our Workshop Newsletter HERE.
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Link to 2018 DEAR ERIC COLUMN
2019 MESSAGE FROM ERIC
I enjoy your loose Watercolors as I find them visually exciting. I emulate what you are doing and am trying to incorporate some of your design techniques from your video series into my paintings. However, as much as I appreciate what you are doing, I do not see many paintings- even the abstract ones- in the national shows with your loose style. Why is that? Ken from Oregon
That is a very good question and I have frequently wondered the same. In part, it may be due to the fact, that pulling off a powerfully loose painting is not as easy as it may first appear. It takes years of practice, decisiveness, an understanding of design and a mature grasp of the medium.
I think there may also be a second reason. I would venture to guess the majority of the acclaimed artists in today’s watercolor competitions are those who have developed their skills in the commercial world, and then have changed careers or retired to enter the fine art market. The commercial design companies can provide a skill set and discipline, let alone an income, that is enviable. I find those artists have a high degree of control of the medium and an exactitude that can be very appealing; however, the looseness and power of suggestion that I so aspire to do not appear to be qualities encouraged in commercial design firms- with an easily understood reason: they are about selling a product, not paintings.
It is not an easy thing to start out one’s career as a fine artist and so, understandably, many have chosen to work in commercial design firms. The disciplines are easily transferred into the fine art world- at times a detriment because they can so predominantly influence an erroneous view of what quality painting should be, and at other times have positively brought a host of well-disciplined and refined artists into the fine art world.
So, if you want to paint loosely, do so! If done with a strong design set, your paintings will be as individual as you are – and set you apart from a predominantly tight painting world.
Keep your brush wet!
1-19 January (PDF)
Recently I was in an engaging conversation with one of my virtual critique students and I struggled with how to push him into a more aggressive color statement. Rather than furthering a discussion of technique that is outlined in my books and videos, I thought of a different approach:
I suggested that he paint in two values only. Shove everything into a dark or light value. Naturally, if something is in shadow- even a white object- it would be relegated to the dark value. (This is not an elementary exercise; for the most part this is the way I think when I do my paintings. I then will tease in a few additional values within the two large value masses to “round out” the painting.)
By working in two values it only stands to reason that the shapes will be larger- a dark car will be joined to a dark bush, a white house shape will be joined to a light sky.
Aggressive color is much easier to attain with larger shapes- it encourages a boldness with a saturated large brush that can be difficult while executing smaller separated shapes.
So, for aggressive color statements, try limiting your values to only two. I think you might be surprised at the results.
Keep your brush wet!