My name is Kenley Jones and I am originally from Coastal North Carolina, currently residing in Central Pennsylvania. If you were to ask me, even just two years ago what I thought about the watercolor medium, my response would have been mixed. I knew what it was, but art was just not happening in my life at the time.
Here is a preface to the now. I grew up loving art, and drawing, even at an early age. My favorite subject to draw were airplanes. My dad was in the United States Marine Corps, and worked on them. The A-4 Skyhawk to be exact. He would take me on base to his shop and give me some GI computer paper, and GI Mechanical Skilcraft pencil. I would sit and draw airplanes for hours. As I got older, I drew more things.
I remember Christmas would net me drawing pencils, drawing pads, and sometimes, a whole Art kit. In high school, I took Art class all four years. We would have to turn in one good sketch every week. My main passion was just drawing. I did do a couple paintings with acrylic which were very abstract (One actually won 3rd place and ended up hanging up in the local Holiday Inn for some time).
After high school, I never really thought about art much, or drawing. That was over 20 years ago. Until, my first son was born. My wife had asked me to do some nursery wall art for the room in a nautical theme. She knew I knew how to draw. I had this big prismacolor set in the basement that I never used. So, at the end of 2015, my first attempt at Art was a top side view of a Blue Crab, in colored pencil. I was actually pretty surprised at how well it turned out. I never did this good in high school, 20 years ago. I went on to do some more sea creatures in colored pencil. I liked colored pencil, but man, it took a long time.
Now, before I get to the good part, watercolor, I will explain the title of this post. It has been over 20 years since I have sketched, or did anything artistic. I do think that you can get better with practice, but I didn’t practice. I think that being older, and having life experiences, has the answer to the question of how I am better now, than way back when. As age defines a person for what they become, new perspectives take shape as well. But most of all, I just think that it is a gift from God, despite all other opinions.
In the beginning of 2016, I was at the point of wanting to try something new. I thought “watercolor”! I always see these coastal themes and seascapes, and think, man if I could do something like this! So, I go to the store (you know the one), and buy a set of watercolors, some brushes, and watercolor paper. I want to keep it simple so I opt for more sea creatures on a white background. I love the simplicity of it.
I love how the water and pigment goes on the paper. I love the crispness of it. Being from the coast, I really love doing these type of paintings with tuna, mahi mahi, pelicans, etc.. My favorite paper that I use most often is Arches 140lb cold press.
How I paint
I simply start with a sketch of the subject using 2h to 5h pencil. Though, I might start using a 2b in the future. Then I decide what colors I want on my palette (I use a new palette each time with new paint). After my sketch is done, I go in with the watercolor. At first, it was hard to wait for the paper to dry, but I don’t mind it now. I don’t use a hair dryer (yet). I often go from light to dark colors as I paint.
My style now, is that my watercolor is sort of tight and detailed. One of my most treasured pieces is the “Blue Crab on a Pier”. The outcome was what I was striving for, and all of the stippling was well worth it. I love trying out new techniques that I learn. I am still in the beginning stages of a watercolor artist, so I love learning new things. And anything that I learn, I love to pass on as well.
One of the most important things I have learned is to allow mistakes. Sometimes, these mistakes can add something, and they can teach you something. As I move forward, I want to try new things, new subjects, and perhaps, get a little more relaxed with a loose style. I am on a mission to learn and to reign in on my new perspectives.
I never, before, would have seen myself in love with this medium, but I do love it, and the elegance of it as well. I look forward to seeing the art here on Doodlewash, and to meet other people in the same art medium.
One golden nugget that I have to offer is this. Support your local art store. You will not only be in the midst of awesome products, but in a bank of knowledge from people that are more than willing to give, especially if you buy even one of those Tombow Drawing pencils (which is what I use), or not. ASK for a discount! They are not blind to the fact that you might have a 50% off coupon saved on your phone’s image storage for another big box store down the street. The place I often go to gives me a, get this, “Professional Artist Discount”. Whether or not I consider myself a professional artist, they do, and they respect my business.
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! If you’d like to be a guest artist on Doodlewash.com, contact me!