A First Week of ‘Crappy Watercolours’

March 11, 2013

In a conversation last weekend, a local urban sketcher colleague and I lamented our lack of confidence and skill in the medium of watercolor. We came up with the idea of “crappy watercolors”: a sketchbook dedicated to nothing more than messing around with watercolor, aimed purely at learning about paint and brushwork, while being completely non-judgemental.

I’m putting this little scheme into action, working from newspaper photographs on the basis of simple, direct composition and with a limited colour palette.

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This was the first, a warm-up done on location, imitating watercolour ‘painting’ with the use of masking tape around the limited area using watercolour. Very pale washes, exploiting the tone in the pencil drawing.

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This second was done again in my 150gsm cartridge paper sketchbook, little more than postcard size. Unstretched paper cockled and masking tape tore the paper.

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This third ‘crappy watercolour’, again in the 150gsm cartridge paper sketchbook (with consequential cockling and masking tape tearing) is a study in the two standard blues in the W&N watercolour fieldset, complemented with the yellow ochres and siennas therein.

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This, the last for the week, was worked on loose paper instead of a sketchbook, Canson Montval 200gsm watercolour paper, with tearing from the masking tape and cockling. It was a study in red and I added some quinacrdione gold and permanent magenta, and a graphite pencil 4B overlay for some of the architectural and people detail. Donald Friend would have thrown in penwork. Without stretching the watercolour paper for the moment, I keep upping the grade of paper and the next step is to try some 300gsm.

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