Hello friends, I am Jyotsna Umesh and I live in Chantilly, Virginia. I was born in India in Basti, UP and lived mostly in Lucknow until I moved to the United States after marriage. I was always interested in sketching and painting since I was kid. Interestingly, I’ve always loved watercolors but never painted until recently.
I am software engineer by profession, mom of two teenage boys and a wife. When I am not busy doing daily chores or office work, I love to paint or virtually paint. Yes, you heard it correctly. I day dream a lot about painting. When I am out with family over the weekend I enjoy studying natural colors that God has made, how light falls on subjects of interest, the shadows , different hues and overall composition.
I take several pictures that later help me to select a subject when I am ready to paint. I started to explore this for the last two years so my advice to novice painters is that it’s never too late to start.
My Last 2 Years
I invested my time heavily in looking at videos, tutorials, watercolor magazines, anything and everything about this medium. When I started to paint, I felt I was never so happy in life. I would admit that initially my paints came out really bad, I didn’t like it, to be honest I hated it, it came out really like beginner’s work, but I didn’t lose hope and never gave up. I started volunteer teaching at the local library and was amazed to see how much teens and adults appreciated my class. That encouraged me to paint more.
Slowly, I started teaching private lessons to kids and adults. And now, I make sure that I paint every weekend. Well it really sounds boring that we should practice more but it’s a fact, unless you try painting small things like huts, ponds, trees, branches, parts of buildings, roofs, windows, roads, stones, sand, water or whatever fascinates you. Again, not all at once. Just pick up something and put color on paper and see how it starts to paint itself. I put colors straight on paper and they start bleeding and get mixed on their own rather than me trying to paint.
Now, how do I paint? Well I mostly paint nature, landscapes or urban life. Human figures, architectural buildings, roads, cars and tourist places interest me a lot. Once I decide what I am going to paint, I usually look at the reference picture for a good twenty to thirty minutes and I call it a value study.
This is a very important step for me as I am deciding about what colors I am going to use. Deciding what are my darks and lights. Studying the shadows and light, and the most important point – what’s my focal point? Meaning, where do I want my audience to look when they look at the complete painting.
Painting With Watercolor From Start To Finish
I feel happy to share the basic steps when I paint
- Study the subject. Lay out colors, focal point, shadows and lights in your mind before picking up a pencil or brush.
- Draw very lightly on the paper. I just use normal pencil and I don’t spend more than ten to fifteen minutes on this step.
- Get all the material that I am going to use. I mostly use Winsor & Newton watercolor tubes, flat, round, rigger watercolor brushes usually synthetic. I tried a Da Vinci brush that’s made of squirrel hair and I am extremely happy with it since it holds lots of water. I use mostly Fabriano watercolor paper.Some other helpful and essential tools are old toothbrush for spattering, palette, masking liquid that I rarely use, tape, board, tissues and utensil for water. See, it’s not bad. You can have a subset of this and still be able to create a wonderful painting. That’s what I love about this medium.
- Start painting. I remove any fear and enjoy the process as thinking about the end result is going to ruin the piece. Reminding myself that the journey is important and not the destination. I also enjoy cup of ginger tea while painting as it elevates my mood. Well, 11 by 14 inches paintings usually take me 1-2 hours to complete. I don’t have great patience so I don’t select very intricate or complex scenes to paint. I feel even in future, if I attempt any such painting, I might loosen it a bit and tweak to fit how I want to paint.
- The last step is to take off the tape, admire it, love it …and take a picture so I can share it with my family and friends. They are my true supporters. My kids, 14 and 12-year boys, love my work and my husband supports my private classes and countless hours on either reading watercolor magazines or watching other great artists work.
Find A Support Group
My family and friends have encouraged me a lot and I think they are so valuable that my journey to watercolor is incomplete without them. Most importantly, feel pride in your work and share it more with others. Critique helped me a lot, I have some amazing art lovers who tell me what’s great and what’s not great in my paintings. Find a support group, it has personally helped me a lot.
I always believe in ‘less is more’. You should know when to stop it. I really loved some artist saying that ‘ I never finish my painting, I end it’. Overwork kills watercolor, don’t try to correct the mistake, let it be. Always look for happy accidents when painting.
You may find that many of my paintings are inspired by Herman Pekel, Alvaro Castagnet, Milind Mullick, Bijay Biswaal, Nitin Singh, Ilya Ibryaev, Uhky Uhky, Corneliu Dragan , Tony Couch, Sadhu Aliyur and many more. I admire their work and they have passively helped me a lot in reaching where I am.
Creator of Doodlewash®, founder of World Watercolor Month (July), World Watercolor Group™, and host of the Sketching Stuff Podcast. 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!