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Revisiting Watercolor

I used to hate watercolor. It was my absolute least favorite medium to work with. I think a big part of that is because when kids are first trying out new art mediums, they get the crappy version of it. I can distinctly remember trying to do watercolor when I was a kid and having to use the awful crayola version with the terrible paintbrush that comes with it. If you don't know the ones I'm talking about, here's a picture. (It can't capture the true essence of what it was like to use them, but maybe you can image the disappointment of trying to work with it).

Naturally, my experience was less than optimal and this led me to think that it was the worst medium to use. However, since I'm trying to learn more about the tattooing world I saw that many tattoo artists recommend working with watercolor. As I understand it, this is because watercolor blending techniques are similar to tattooing and paper has a certain level of "work-ability" in the same way that skin does. In other words, you can figure out how much paint/water you can put onto paper before it turns into a muddy mess in the same way that you would figure out how much to work on someone's skin before you start really damaging it.

One important thing I've learned since revisiting watercolor is that the quality of your materials do matter quite a bit. Initially, I had been working with some random art set that had watercolor materials in it to get my feet wet. These were ... okay.

chrysanthemum flower, hand drawn with ink, colored with watercolor paint, purple petals
Using the "random art set" watercolor materials

They certainly weren't the best by any means, and maybe only slightly better than the crayola version. But, I was able to grasp some of the concepts of watercolor painting by using them. After some practice with the lower-grade version, I decided to try out some Winsor & Newton watercolor paints. What a world of difference. These were so much easier to work with. The blending was far smoother and the colors were much more vivid.

5 art cards, winter scenes, a candle, birds, trees, snowman, and deer, painted colorfully with watercolor
Using new Winsor & Newton watercolors

With these new watercolor paints at my disposal, I decided to put them to use creating holiday art cards for my friends and family. It was a way to both practice my own techniques in painting and make something to give out for the holidays. I recorded myself painting the snowman card, check it out in the video below.

I'm still working on getting comfortable with watercolor and I know there's still plenty to learn as far as techniques go. Something I didn't realize I really needed was a mixing tray. I have been using a sheet of paper to try and mix my watercolors, but it's been tricky at best to try and be consistent when the water just absorbs into the paper. I'll be working on improving and learning more about this medium since I've found a new appreciation for it.

Until next time...

-Bridgette Bee

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