My name is Joe Cibere and I could go on and on about the magical qualities of watercolor, but you already know about those. Simply stated, watercolor has made me a better painter, because I only have to paint half a painting and let the medium paint the rest.
The biggest cause for failure is trying to do too much. You don’t have to put down every brush stroke you just want to get it started and I’m always amazed at the results. It’s a partnership…
Skies are the perfect subject to learn how to paint watercolor
I became interested in transparent watercolor through Nita Engle as our commercial art backgrounds were similar. I presently teach and reside in Southern California and I’m active doing demos, classes and workshops as I enjoy paying it forward.
“The challenge is to know when to stop and let watercolor take over and paint itself. That’s why the most successful paintings seem almost effortless.”
My background is from the commercial art side. I spent most of my career as a freelance artist and the discipline that requires has been very beneficial. Knowing how to draw and design is vital and I’m thankful that I had to hone those skills by doing thousands of storyboards and many illustrations.
My process is straight forward. I usually start with a doodle/thumbie using a black marker and create a “notan”, Japanese for darkness & lightness and then add mid-tone. I don’t do a pencil sketch because that’s what it is, a sketch, not a value study. This study gives me my three values and those define my shapes.
Also, I can play with the proportion of my painting without spending a lot of time. This is the fun part for me because I can solve most of the visual problems. I can then figure out my color palette if I want and then all I have left to do is paint. What a concept! Knowing how to draw is a given so keep a sketchbook and use it. When using photo reference create don’t copy!
This is from my online class named “MidTone Crisis” and was intended for artists who end up with all midtone values and no darks or lights. Boring… I did my value study then painted it with waterproof ink then added color for a powerful painting.
My process is simple:
1. Paint your midtones leaving white
2. Paint your darks
3. Paint the detail if necessary
If you did your value study you’ll have your roadmap and foundation to just let you paint with confidence.
One thing I’ve learned over the years is there is no magic brush, paint, paper, palette etc. When I do demos, unless it’s a specific technique, I will be asked questions about what kind/brand of brushes I use or a specific color or special paper or whatever as if that is the secret to making a successful painting.
For me, it is once again all about the shapes and values. Yes, good paint, brushes and especially paper will make a difference and give you a much more enjoyable experience. We coined a phrase in class and sometimes we call painting watercolor “Funstration” but there are no magic materials.
I use a Robert E. Wood palette, various brands of paint including Holbein, Daniel Smith, Da Vinci to name a few. I use synthetic brushes and they work well. I use large brushes, 1 ½ – 2” angled flat and some big rounds and smaller ones for detail if needed. My subject matter will tell me to use flat or round or a combination.
I do a lot of demos on a 11×15 140lb coldpress Strathmore pad and larger sizes, 24×18 Artisco Fabriano extra white 140lb cold press. I also use Arches full sheet. I use a small Windex spray bottle that will sprinkle and spray and an atomizer for mist. By the way, I use Pebeo drawing gum for my liquid frisket as the color is grey and I can see where I put it.
This is where I live and so lucky to have so many paintings in my backyard. I have a studio at Studio Channel Islands in Camarillo, CA and work with about 45 other artists working in all types of media.
More examples of indicate, don’t state. Leave something for the viewer to fill in…
Coming from the commercial illustration/design world my first love is design. I’m a shape and value guy first. Color, edges, technique are all important but if you don’t have interesting shapes defined by value you’ll probably be disappointed but the result.
Thanks for letting me share a little of my world. I love feedback so feel free to comment below or contact me.
Give watercolor a chance to paint itself once you get it started, and you’ll be amazed. Hope this perspective makes you a better painter. I love watercolor!