Doodlewash by Carol Hartmann - watercolor painting of female cardinal sitting on tree branchI’m Carol Hartmann from Cincinnati, Ohio (follow my blog here!). When Charlie invited me to be a guest Doodlewasher, I was extremely honored but not sure that I was worthy. You see, I have always thought of myself as crafty but not necessarily artistic.

Even as a teenager I made scrapbooks way before there was a whole industry built around scrapbooking and paper crafts. Imagine my delight when eventually this trend took off and paper crafting supplies were plentiful! After my kids graduated from high school and I had not as much to scrap, I focused on using up my scrapbook supplies for card making.

Doodlewash by Carol Hartmann - watercolor painting of Chickadee on Holiday Holly bushAbout ten years ago I started making greeting cards for family, friends, and nonprofit organizations and found the Internet to be a valuable source of info for supplies, techniques, and inspiration. My favorite cards to create had soft watercolor effects done by using a water brush and a small amount of ink from a stamp pad to color in a stamped image and background. I so enjoyed making cards and felt each one to be a tiny work of art, and the more I made, the more I wanted to learn about being more artsy than crafty. The seed was planted and I wanted to watercolor a real painting with real watercolor supplies! (Funny how scrapbooking snowballed into watercolor painting, isn’t it?)

Doodlewash by Carol Hartmann - Watercolor of little black dog WinjiOff to the library for books, accompanied by watching YouTube videos for tutorials and scouring Pinterest for ideas. Then the basic supplies were bought – and I mean basic! Between using inferior supplies and not having anyone who could give me constructive criticism or feedback about this medium, I rarely created anything successful and in frustration put it away for a while.

About a year and a half ago my hubby saw that a local school was having a six-week course in beginning watercolor for adults. After completing these classes I felt a little better about my abilities but still struggled a lot. I was using “better” student grade paper and paint but didn’t feel my art was good enough to warrant upgrading to artist supplies because I didn’t want to “waste” more expensive papers and paints. However, it was not until finally buying artist-quality supplies that good things happened.   Finally, more successes than not and some that I even felt could be shared – how exciting!

Doodlewash by Carol Hartmann - Red Cardinal on tree branchI have to give credit to my hubby for finding the class and for being my best critic. He has always had a good eye for photography and composition, and I ask for his honest opinions for the betterment of the final painting. We usually agree that he has good suggestions, although I did have to remind him about artistic license. My brother-in-law, Rob, who is a very talented artist and photographer, gave me a tip of looking at my paintings in a mirror. He said that if anything was off kilter, it could be better seen by viewing the painting in a mirror. Wow, was he ever right, and I use this tip often!

My favorite paints are Daniel Smith, and there is no comparison between these and the starter set of Cotman pan paints that were very rock-hard and difficult to soften. I’ve started with a small primary set and a small PrimaTek set of the Daniel Smith paints, and talk about stunning, vivid colors, not to mention the granulation! Gorgeous! Generally I use no more than 5 colors in any painting in order to keep the paintings more cohesive and pleasing to the eye. Homemade mixing charts help me make just about any color needed, but I think I might spring for a good old burnt sienna to help out a little.

Doodlewash by Carol Hartmann - Olive Branch in Corfu, Greece

While still fairly new to this medium, I am no longer afraid to “waste” any supplies because something is learned with each painting – whether or not I feel it is shareable. The following motto is a reminder that it is okay to paint and experiment even if a mess is the outcome: You never lose; you either win or you learn.

I am very grateful to this WordPress blogging community and am continually inspired by everyone’s outstanding works of art. These fellow bloggers always offer encouraging comments and cheer each other on, and it makes me want to work to get better with each project. You folks are the best!

Carol Hartmann
Carol’s Creative Papers

Posted by:Charlie O'Shields (doodlewash)

Creator of Doodlewash® and founder of World Watercolor Month™ (July) and World Watercolor Group™. Sharing daily watercolor illustrations and stories while proudly featuring talented artists from all over the world!

30 replies on “GUEST DOODLEWASH: The Craft of Watercolors

  1. The artistic journey you so interestingly described (including beautiful samples of your work!) evoked so many memories of how I got “to here from there” along a similar pathway. It also affirmed the importance of following your bliss and sticking with it; hence opportunities suddenly show up along the way. A beautiful and inspirational story Carol! Thank you.

    Liked by 3 people

  2. The paintings are all beautiful, and your birds look like they are ready to sing. Glad you made the move to artist grade paint and paper, with everything else that goes on when painting, having reliable quality materials is a great help. Wonderful feature post, the story is both inspiring and encouraging.

    Liked by 2 people

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