GUEST ARTIST: “Painting With Watercolor” by Jensen Cheong

14th Street Manhattan Watercolor painting by Jensen Cheong

My name is Jensen Cheong from San Jose California. My teacher Harding is a professional Watercolor painting artist, who published 2 fine art books in the 60s, who is the founder of Harding Fine Art Studio, where, for 3 years, I studied fine art theory, gypsum sketch oil and watercolor painting. This included still life, model painting and going outside and painting scenery as well. I define myself as a semi-professional artist.

JA Park Cafe Watercolour Painting by Jensen Cheong

I never quit painting, though sometimes I paused quite a while, even years. Since three years ago, I have been painting in watercolor most of time, and also participated in watercolor artist Tim Wilmot‘s online workshop and contacted him for his valuable critiques on my watercolor work. I use source photos that I shoot during traveling as reference to paint watercolor. The majority of my subjects are street scenes and scenery but sometimes portraits and still life. Spain Watercolor painting by Jensen CheongI opine the most important key of painting watercolor is the ability to control color value. This means the ratio of water and pigment that we have to master in the way that we can optimize the result of the final works.

Besides, the relation of edges and the area next to the edge, this means the degree of the edge’s softness and hardness have to be just right and fit in the whole picture. As to perspective, I think it’s the basic knowledge learnt, but I always pay attention during sketching as it’s sometimes carelessly overlooked.

Regarding composition, I know it is good for watercolor to simplify it, from time to time reminding myself not to going into too much details, which is indeed not easy in the practice. What we know in our mind is one thing, and how to reflect that into painting is another. To that end, it is technique and experience. In my own experience, that mood and state are not constant. I can sometimes feel the painting going on smoothly, sometimes “it’s not my day.”

Naxos Island Watercolor painting by Jensen Cheong

Another challenge is to refrain from too much repeated brushing after the first wash. Actually, it is again the ability of controlling the value well. To improve, more practice is the only way. We painters all face a question of “when to stop?”

There, however, is no standard or criteria. My experience is that when you see there is no more room to adjust, just stop, because it is the utmost of your level. However, if there is a teacher, he can tell you where to change or improve.

Watercolor Village Watercolor Painting by Jensen Cheong

The other thing is style. I think each artist/painter would form his/her unique style after accumulation of certain works, similar to singers or composers. Why? In my view, personal style is shaped by 1). your preferred artist works that influence you  2). your teacher’s impact 3). your preferred pigment and paper you are using 4). your personal character.

Hong Kong At Night Watercolor Painting by Jensen Cheong

For myself, in my early watercolor works, I can see the reflection of oil painting because I did a lot of oil paintings when young. Now, I’ve been trying to dilute such shadow to build up light and a bit of a rough watercolor style – that’s why I chose Mr. Wilmot for his critiques. I have two other me-likey watercolor artists, Alvaro Castagnet and Joseph Zbukvic, each of them presenting far different personal styles.

Ruin of St Paul Watercolor Painting by Jensen Cheong

In addition to technique and experience, tools for watercolor painting are important, too. Big brands of pigment, paper and brushes are definitely much better than cheap ones, but to get used to which one fits most is personal preference after you have tried and compared.

Golddale Road watercolor Painting by Jensen Cheong

The watercolor paper I use mostly Saunders, sometimes Hahnemühle and Canson, 300g/, cold press, medium rough, in sizes 18×30″, 12×16″, and 9 x 12″. The brands of watercolor brushes I use are Raphael, Escoda and Sealodan, either synthetic or squirrel hair. Watercolor tube pigments I use are Winsor & Newton.

Glimpse of Princeton U Campus Watercolor painting by Jensen Cheong

My own goal is to try to break through, which is not easy. When I look back at my previous watercolor works, I see where I could have been improved. Therefore, I always hold a positive and humble attitude to listen to other’s comments.

Jensen Cheong

Recommended4 recommendationsPublished in Featured Artists
  1. Nabeela 3 years ago

    Lovely paintings….

  2. Atique Ahmed 3 years ago

    This is great….I love this one!

  3. Karen Fortier 3 years ago

    Thank you Jensen for sharing your story. Your paintings are beautiful. We are all constantly learning and growing as artists. The trick for me is to keep having fun and hold on to the excitement of watching watercolor flow and play!

    • jensen cheong 3 years ago

      Thank you, Karen. Absolutely agree with your words “keep having fun and hold on to the excitement of watching watercolor flow and play!”

  4. Zertab Quaderi 3 years ago

    Beautiful works of art!

  5. Sharon Nolfi 3 years ago

    Thanks for sharing your lovely paintings! I especially like the street scenes.

  6. Gary Middleton 3 years ago

    Brilliant urban painting.

  7. Jennifer Bowie 3 years ago

    These are absolutely beautiful. Some art work is beautiful, but one look is enough. These are the kinds of paintings I love to really admire, get lost in. Gorgeous!

  8. Zuzana Dobiasova 3 years ago

    That looks awesome

  9. Renee Galligher 3 years ago

    Beautiful work, Jensen! I really like your fluid style.

  10. Ben 2 years ago

    The umbrellas and cafe scene through the windows is so beautiful. I love the colours, and can feel the murmer of people talking.

  11. Claire Feyling 5 months ago

    Hi Jensen! I absolutely love your watercolor in Naxos. We have a house there. Is there a way to buy a print of this piece?

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