Hi I’m Lynda Monteverde and I’m from the Philippines. You can find me on Instagram as @lyndapaints. I use it to share my thoughts about watercolor and my works.
When I was in high school, I was one of those kids who constantly drew in class. I worked mostly with graphite and colored pencils. But I went to college, took up Mass Media and Accountancy it was also there when started designing for student organizations and somehow, I focused on creating visuals to please others instead of expressing my style. I eventually got into photography, then scuba diving, added those two together and I started taking underwater photos. Then I found myself trying to live a healthy lifestyle and committed to learning how to cook so I can make healthier meals.
These seemingly unrelated things influence me while I grow as a watercolorist. Underwater photography, is very interesting, your depth determines how broad your light spectrum is, colors tend to disappear at a certain depth depending on their wavelength. First, all traces of red disappear, then orange, eventually, everything is either a shade of blue, green or violet.
This taught me to accept that light will always influence how the color of an object will be and not how I think or know the color should be.
It taught me to step back and accept that in certain conditions, strawberries will be purple. Cuisine led me to understand layering flavors, adding contrast and balance as well as bringing something different to the plate. Maybe it’s a surprising combination of flavors or a technique that you wouldn’t think of using.
Watercolor was always something I wished to learn but always deemed too difficult and intimidating. Pigments bleeding into one another creating muddy colors intimidated me and the way paper wrinkled when it’s had too much water frustrated me. I thought of giving watercolor one last try so I joined a workshop earlier this year.
In August 2016, Instagram reminded me that I wanted to seriously improve in watercolor so I busted out my stuff and started practicing. I was following along with tutorials and it got frustrating. Somehow, I could never make my florals identical to what I was watching.
Then one day, I decided that I will paint the way I perceived a rose to be, and I understood that one should paint the world how you perceive it to be and give others a glimpse of the world through your mind’s eye.
Just like how I cook intuitively, I add ingredients when I feel it is needed. That is also how I should paint. After that moment, I painted the way I wanted to paint things. I accepted that I have my own ideas, preference and movement as I let my brush glide on the paper. I believe an artist’s stroke is unique to himself or herself.
My process begins by choosing a photo of something that moves or delights me. Sometimes it’s a trinket from my travels or a photo that I took. Most of the time, I give in to what I’m currently interested in. When I’m ready to paint I arrange my space to how I’d like it to be, chefs call this Mise En Place (everything in its place).
I lightly sketch the picture with a pencil and start with my first layer. I like creating washes and adding more pigment to shaded areas.
For the second layer I add my mid tones and afterwards my shadows. When the shadows come in, that’s when I add darker colors to certain edges to create contrast. I would either add an extremely dark color or add a very thin line of a contrasting color in relation to my subject’s color.
If I want to add a little glow to what I’m painting, I pick up Lemon yellow, if it’s watered down enough it adds an inner light to the painting. In between all of the steps I go through and the layers I paint is a lot of time and patience. Giving time to make a painting is the most important ingredient in the whole process. It’s when you stop and choose what you should and shouldn’t add to the painting. It’s when you wait for the opportune moment to add your next stroke.
Even when I was just starting out, I opted to purchase artist grade paint and brushes. I just figured that I’m not going to go through the student grade materials before I’d want to switch to something better. My first artist grade watercolor was Rembrandt, I love how vibrant it is and how easy it is to pick up pigment. I’ve put a serious dent in my Quinacridone Rose, I love that color. I also adore Daniel Smith paints, they have their own attitude, especially the granulating ones, it gives paintings a certain rawness to it.
My favorite brushes at the moment are my travel brushes. The weight of the cap gives me the right balance so I don’t put too much pressure on my painting. I use mostly my Escoda Reserva No. 6, Rosemary and Co. Travel Mop and a No. 8. I love these brushes, the sensation of using them is the same as spreading butter over warm toast, they make the pigment glide on to the paper ever so smoothly. For the details I like using my No. 4 Isabey Travel Brush, it just helps me paint the daintiest of leaves and the most intricate details which I could get lost in doing.
I keep painting because I enjoy the process, I love watching the colors flow and blend. Since I’m also just starting out, I promised myself not to be too critical of what I make to the point that I will give up on myself, I will allow myself room to grow and that is necessary for improvement.
I desire that every painting that I make will be an ode to the minerals from which my paint was derived from. There are moments when I do doubt myself, in those times, I remind myself to just trust my process, believe in my judgement and work with how the pigments behave.