Creative Secrets

Creativity of applying watercolours:

Painting isn’t just about applying paint. It’s how you go about it. How you get you act together, what attitude and mood you are in before you start to paint, how you mix your paints, etc. Whatever people may say, most dramas and mistakes are caused by been impatient.

Creative secrets for watercolours

A5 size watercolour: River scene.

Before beginning to paint:

Here are some creative tips:

  • Get yourself organized. Get all the necessary and possible resources, materials and pigments together, close to where you are working, so you can snatch up whatever you may need in a hurry, at any stage, at a moment’s notice to reduce any possible drama.
  • Get a big glass jar and fill it with clean fresh water. With a spray bottle, finely spray the pigments in paint box to soften the paints and make it easier to get your paints out of the pans in a hurry.
  • Play soft music to put you in the mood. Happy music helps to put freedom into your brushstrokes. Heavy beat music isn’t inspiring.
  • Prepare yourself and your creativity powers: If you haven’t painted for quite some time, get out some cheap paper (about 200 gsm) and doodle (see free art book download). Splash paint on it using free and easy brushstrokes to loosening up your brushstrokes and your hand. Don’t start with a pencil synopsis. And don’t take yourself or your painting seriously, have fun, do your thing: Tell yourself this is a tree and this is grass, or whatever that doesn’t require neat detail. This exercise prevents you from painting stiff precise neat parlour paintings (a sign of an amateur). Your want to encourage and put style into your commission or project for the day.
  • If you are still not in the mood, first peruse other artist’s work you admire. When you see the beautiful work they do, it inspires you, lifts your ego, etc. This requires collecting copies of their work, either from their art books or downloading them from the internet. Whatever you do, don’t copy every detail of their paintings.
  • Even though you plan your composition and procedures, don’t expect things to turn out just as you first envisioned it. Let the spirit of inspiration flow as you work.

Creative style:

  • Every brush stroke has a shape: The shape and size of your brush must suit the area your wish to cover. That is: Big brush for big areas. Square tipped brushes for square shapes. Round tipped filbert brushes for round shapes.
  • Brushstrokes are like shorthand. Word-for-word, squiggle, dot-and-dash! So every brush stroke talks for itself and tells a story.
  • Pronunciation: How you express yourself in speech, is the same in painting. Some things are said loudly (contrast of colours), bold statements (with darker tones). And other things are said softly (with lighter tones) and mysteries are whispered (eg: blurred misty scenes), etc.
  • Different combinations of colour express different moods. `Dead pan’ boring paintings are painted in similar tones and cold colours.
  • Assess each situation and go with the flow of things. You maybe the producer (like a stage production) but the character’s personalities take over and you must know how to monitor their performance and the production to its success.
  • Painting with watercolours requires patience. Basically you work in stages. Apply, watch and wait: timing each application according to conditions. You can’t force the `actors’, you need to thoughtfully `persuade’ them. Only assist and tilt paper when necessary. And sometimes the ‘actors’ show you a better way of doing it!

 Always keep your washes fresh and transparent as possible:

  • If you want professional results, buy and use only artist’s quality watercolour pigments. Cheap opaque paints don’t give you the same special effects.
  • The less coats you have, and the less pigments (primary colours) involved in your mixtures, the more translucent your painting.
  • Generally speaking, use warm undercoats and reserve cool colours for your topcoats.
  • Where possible use analogous colours if more than one coat of paint is required.
  • Check the hue, tone and intensity strength of your colour against the white of your palette before applying your brush to your paper.

Here are some examples of two pigment mixtures:

Have fun experimenting with your own stock of paints. You don’t know what you can create until you try things out for yourself.

Creative mixtures of two pigments

Swatches of two pigment mixtures.

Last word on the topic creative secrets:

Secrets are no longer secret, when researched on facts. Experiment with what you have learnt, until you have mastered the techniques. Then the technique secret becomes yours to expand on and magnify as you wish. Inventors create new inventions by mingling and using old facts!

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