Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Mail Bag

Q: For someone interested in learning about how to get started working with watercolor, the way you guys do... where would you recommend one start?

A: Here's how I got started with watercolor. (I wanted to get into children's illustration and that's why I decided to torture myself). With hope, Wes and Stacy will chime in with some words that are actually helpful.

I went out and bought a pad of cheap 140 lb watercolor paper and a half-dozen or so W&N tubes. I had no idea what to paint. This coincided with my (I think) suggestion on the Wisenheimer cartoonist board to do a cartoon postcard swap. I decided to do all my postcards, some 40 of them, with the watercolors. I did all kinds of stuff, just experimenting and not worrying too much about it. The result was that I got a lot of experimenting out of the way, learned a little about how the paint behaves, what the brushes do, whether to ink first or after, etc. I think otherwise I would have tried to sit down and do a "real" painting and gotten very discouraged.

I also subscribed for a while to The Artist's Magazine, which I recommend. I see that they now make a magazine called Watercolor Magic which you can get a free issue of at their site.

(I had scanned in several of the postcards before mailing them and I found them on my old hard drive. Here they are, warts and all.)

Stacy:One day, I decided I wanted to do watercolor illustrations, so like Ted, I just jumped into it. I got some tubes of watercolor & some watercolor pans and a decent watercolor block and just started reading and studying from a step-by-step watercoloring book I got from the bookstore.
Eventually, I felt I knew how the paint was going to behave and I put the book away and started developing my own watercoloring style.
I think every artist has a watercoloring style, just like they have a drawing style. Sometimes, I'll see an illustrator do a drawing and the watercoloring style just kills the drawing. Your watercoloring style has to compliment your drawing style.

My advice is to read up on watercoloring, look at the step-by-step books, as Ted suggested-read some watercoloring magazines and DON'T be afraid to start putting paint to paper. Start with some watercolor postcards if you like, but don't be afraid...dive right in!

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