GUEST ARTIST: “The Insightful Truth Behind Watercolor” by Rémy Lach

Atmospheric Watercolor Painting by Remy Lach

My name is Rémy Lach. I live near Paris, in France. As for my artistic background, I only drew and painted 2 hours per week during plastic art courses in middle school. In a nutshell, I wasn’t born with a paint brush in my hand. To be honest, I used to live a pretty ordinary and happy life until watercolor decided to knock on my door.

My watercolor journey began in 2013. At this time, Youtube wasn’t so popular but I already spent hours and hours on it watching videos on my couch. Lazy man. One day, I stumbled upon a video from Direk Kingnok, a Thai watercolorist. I couldn’t take my eyes off this video. I was like a child watching “Frozen” for the first time. It was magic for me. Everything was memorable: the confident brush strokes, the light on the painting, the watery effects…

Landscape With Stream Watercolor PaintingI bought a 10€ set of 12 half pans from Winsor & Newton Cotman and started my journey. The first attempts were successful. The colors blended nicely. I discovered the power of watercolor. Wow, nice! I would then be able to master this medium in no time. I was so naive, and so wrong. I was such an amateur and watercolor reminded me of it relentlessly.

Train Terminal Watercolor Painting​When it came down to a whole landscape painting, I can’t remember how many times I failed. I constantly switched between joy and despair. I looked at how people painted on Youtube and I tried to reproduce the same paintings. Unsuccessfully…

My Erratic Learning Curve

One night in 2014. Already 2:00 am… Not tonight! Not again!! As yesterday… and the day before yesterday… disappointed… I looked dully at my watercolor painting. Actually, it is looking at me… with dead eyes. No light, no mood, no atmosphere. Nothing.

Remy Lach Watercolor Landscape Beach

I messed this painting up. This time, I put too much water when I shouldn’t, creating these so-dreaded cauliflowers. I know them too well. I can feel my best friend coming right away to taunt me: Frustration. Its voice pops into my head: “Why not give up on painting? See, you just embarrassed yourself. Stop doing it, for God’s sake. This path is a dead end. Start something new instead! Something that would make you happier.”

Watercolor Clouds Painting Remy Lach

That same voice telling me that I shouldn’t paint because I’ll screw up.
That same voice which makes me click on the Netflix app just after I decided to paint.
That same voice convincing me that I’m too tired to paint after a working day as an engineer. Unfortunately, I know that voice too well.

Fishing Watercolor Landscape Remy Lach

Here is the sad truth about watercolor: Frustration will become a close friend to you. And it sometimes becomes unbearable. At this time, I didn’t know that I would struggle for 2 whole years. 2 years before painting the first landscape I would be proud of.

Street Watercolor Painting by Remy Lach

From this moment, I started painting 2 to 3 landscapes every week for 1 year while working full time until 2016. I gained momentum. I even succeeded in selling up to 12 paintings in one exhibition. Good job, kiddo!

My Watercolor Supplies

With that money in my pocket, I upgraded my art supplies. I bought a Holbein palette. An easel, some masking tape, a bottle spray and some minor stuff. I stuck exclusively to Arches paper rough 140 lbs. I used Winsor & Newton professional quality tubes. At this time and until now, the brushes I had were still the first ones I bought: Raphael 803 brushes size 0/3, 2 and 4, and a synthetic brush with a fine point.

If you want to know the exact references of all my supplies, you can check my website where you can download the .pdf checklist. For each supply, I go deep into what I would recommend and the product references I exactly use (the exact colors etc.)

Watercolor Landscape Painting Trees Remy Lach

Then… Then I became a father, the best job in the world. A job which required me to make some sacrifices. Among them, putting watercolor aside for 4 years. Until recently, I started to paint again in March 2020 as I now have more time.​

 

I also created a Youtube channel for those who want to join me in this artistic and fabulous journey. I know how solitary this painting activity may be. I can only help if we can support each other.

My Painting Process

I usually paint at night, when children are asleep. I pick a photo according to composition, light and mood. I mainly choose landscapes as there are already so many subjects to paint: rural landscapes, cityscapes, snowy landscapes, seascapes etc. I describe my art as atmospheric watercolor landscapes.

Watercolour Sky Painting

I tweak the photo so that it matches the result I have in my mind. I draw a quick sketch (5 to 10 minutes max) to get the big shapes on the paper. And I start painting. The painting process itself takes on average one hour.​

Actually, watercolor fits my personality quite well. Since I started this Youtube channel, many people ask me the best advice I can give to a complete beginner in watercolor. Still with me? Okay, let’s move on then!

How To Improve In Watercolor As A Beginner

Having failed many times, here is what I would suggest to someone who starts painting in watercolor:

1. Learn the technical skills first. Know how to create a wash and a graded wash. Be familiar with color mixing, wet in wet techniques, dry brush marks and learn how to avoid cauliflowers. There’s a ton of free tutorials on the web which are very well explained. Use them to your advantage.

Watercolor Painting Abstract Realism

2. Choose a mentor. Someone whose work inspires you. Learn everything you can learn from this person. One tip: It’s better if you have access to painting videos from this artist as you will have to reverse engineer the paintings. Try to recognize when this artist uses the techniques you acquired in step 1.

Asian Landscape Watercolor Painting 2

3. Lastly, copy the paintings you analyzed until you end up with a satisfying result. There is no shame in copying for a learning purpose. The purpose in this process is not to find your style, it is to learn the technical moves. Select the simplest subjects first and as you improve your skills, you can switch to more difficult topics.

Cityscape Watercolor Painting by Remy Lach

Then, you reach a tipping point where you actually enjoy the painting process more than before as you are no more limited by your technical skills. Then, you can broaden your vision by getting inspiration from other artists (not necessarily watercolorists by the way). I would not recommend checking other artists’ stuff before mastering the technical part first or you may end up switching relentlessly from one artist to the other without actually improving.

Misty Watercolor Painting Example

When you reach this point, then you have achieved a huge milestone! Congratulations. You can give yourself a pat on the back. Take the time to appraise what you already accomplished so far. You deserve it.

Chlidren Playing Watercolor By Remy Lach

How To Find Your Own Style

I have some bad news for you…only then can the real journey begin. The good news? It’s fun. It’s real fun. I mean: Finding your own style and exploring new compositions and new subjects is what I find the most satisfying moments. Recently, I decided to give a shot to snowy landscapes:

Then I spent some time exploring asian landscapes:

It’s a never ending process and it makes you grow as an artist. It also makes you grow as a human being. Thanks to watercolor, I learned to embrace frustration. Of course there will be some failures. When I started painting, culpability was striking me like a lightning bolt whenever a painting didn’t turn out the way I wanted.
Portrait Man Watercolor Painting

But I now feel gratitude when my best friend, Frustration, knocks on my door. I now understand the happy truth behind watercolor: Frustration is what comes before fulfillment. And fulfillment leads to gratitude. And gratitude is closely linked to happiness.

Aerial View Watercolor Painting

So… Wanna be in? Yes? Nice!!! Welcome on board then. I hope you don’t care about my strong Frenchy accent (as you could have read it!) and I’m glad we met. If we get to know each other, I would suggest you to subscribe to my YouTube channel. I share every week a time lapsed painting demonstration.

Boat On Water Watercolor Painting by Remy Lach

Take a seat, have some rest and let’s start painting! I would like to thank Charlie for his incredible work. It takes so much courage and perseverance to inspire people with his daily post. Respect to the man! Peace, joy and long life to watercolor!

Rémy Lach
YouTube
Website
Instagram

Recommended3 recommendationsPublished in Featured Artists
48 Comments
  1. Manish 5 months ago

    Hello Rémy

    Thanks for walking us through your art journey. Your story is inspiring and other should learn lot about the entire learning process. Your paintings are beautiful, I liked the way you have painted sky in all your paintings.
    Learning painting with watercolor is full of excitements and frustrations but overall it is enriching experience. You said it right “It’s a never ending process and it makes you grow as an artist.”

    Keep up the good work and all the best for your future art life…

    • Remy Lach 5 months ago

      Hello Manish,
      Thank you so much for your comment. You made my day 🙂
      Indeed it has been a long journey since I started. Hope it will help other people learn faster than I did 🙂
      As you mentioned, skies have that special thing that makes this topic unique. I don’t paint them the way I paint other landscapes at all.
      They give me the illusion that I can easily paint them and at the same time it is so difficult to grasp their core essence.
      Anyway, we can keep talking about watercolor the whole night, so I’d rather stop writing 🙂
      Thanks again and I wish you the best !!

      • Manish 5 months ago

        They give me the illusion that I can easily paint them and at the same time it is so difficult to grasp their core essence >> Absolutely. Less is more while is mantra for painting skies. It is easy to end up overworking on sky to make them look natural.

        • Remy Lach 5 months ago

          I would even say that it’s very easy to overwork in watercolor in general !! I still find myself dabbling and dabbling from time to time before realizing that I just went too far and that there is no going back 🙁
          Anyway, thanks for your comment again, I totally agree with you on this point !!

          • Stephen Booth 5 months ago

            Hi Remy,my names steve and I’m new to both doodle wash and watercolour painting,I haven’t painted anything yet,I ordered my introductory painting set online last night,I haven’t done any art since school over 30 years ago,I used to be reasonable at pencil drawing back then,I read your post and it’s really inspired me even further to learn how to paint you have made me very aware now of the frustrating times ahead😊.im going to start by experimenting on beach scenes,I’ve been watching videos online and been really inspired by some of them.
            Thankyou for the inspiring passionate and honest post,and your amazing paintings are stunning.

  2. Danai Mongkolrat 5 months ago

    Wonderful painting!!

    • Remy Lach 5 months ago

      Thank you so much Danai. I hope that my future paintings will please you as well !!
      Hope to see you soon during this artistic journey 🙂

  3. Mary Roff 5 months ago

    Wonderful paintings and excellent advice!

    • Remy Lach 5 months ago

      Hello Mary !

      Thank you very much for your nice comment. If my advice can help people in their learning process, then the goal is reached 🙂
      When I wrote this post, I really wondered how my struggles and my small victories would be received.
      Well, now I can tell that your comment warms my heart so much.

      Thank you and I hope to see you again in this journey !

  4. Sandra Strait 5 months ago

    I like your practical and ordered approach to learning a rebellious medium like watercolor. You are a master of atmospheric color and light. Thank you for sharing your artistic journey with us!

    • Remy Lach 5 months ago

      Hello Sandra,
      This is probably one of the best compliment someone can give me. Thank you so much.
      I hope that some advice will be useful to people.
      Art is made to move people. When it’s the case, despite all the flaws my paintings can have, it encourages me to keep on painting 🙂

  5. Chantel Keona 5 months ago

    Beautiful!

    • Remy Lach 5 months ago

      Thanks a lot Chantel.
      I hope that you will find my next paintings as beautiful as now 🙂
      See you.

  6. Robert Coleman 5 months ago

    Remy, thanks for recounting your journey to your present expression in watercolor. I really like the atmosphere you put into your work, love the skies! All the best!

    • Remy Lach 5 months ago

      Hello Robert,
      To be honest, I was a little bit afraid at how people would consider me after seeing all the struggles I have been through during this learning process but your comment gave me strength to be proud of this journey !
      Thank you so much for that.

      I love skies very much although I don’t paint them as often as I probably should…
      I should look for skies photos in my smartphone now 🙂

  7. Susan Masters 5 months ago

    Nice to meet you are Remy, thank you so much for such a wonderful inspiring article. Sharing your insights really reminds me that I am still working on step one and two but will get there! I find this group has helped me do that by challenge me to paint everyday, simple objects that force me to work on mastering those technical skills. Your work is fantastic and your words are informative and inspiring.

    • Remy Lach 5 months ago

      Wow Susan thank you so much for taking the time to share your artistic journey as well.
      I know what you mean and it is a soothing feeling to know that people like us have been through the same path as us.
      And to be honest, I am still struggling with technical moves in watercolor.
      For example, dry on dry brush strokes are sometimes a pain to me, especially when I have to be very precise !
      I find myself learning as much from my students than they are learning from me.
      Art is to be shared.
      For that, thank you for sharing some part of your art life.
      Remy.

    • Remy Lach 5 months ago

      Hello Susan,
      Just for your information, I created a FREE watercolor masterclass video where I show you in real time how I paint a landscape and I point out the biggest mistakes my students do when painting watercolor.
      I also list all my watercolor supplies so that you know exactly what you need!
      You can check this FREE masterclass by clicking on the following link https://remylach.com
      If you watch this video, I am very interested in having your feedback !!
      Hope to see you soon 🙂 !!

  8. Mike Sherman 5 months ago

    I enjoyed your story-your washes are transcendent

    • Remy Lach 5 months ago

      Hello Mike,
      I tried to write a story where people could be beside me, feeling my joy as well as my pain 🙂
      If you enjoyed my story, then that’s great !
      I try to paint gentle washes to keep the freshness of watercolor. If you found them transcendent, it’s a good sign that I’m on the right path.
      Thank you for your comment !

  9. Karen Fortier 5 months ago

    Remy, your work is gorgeous and thank you for sharing your story with us!

    • Remy Lach 5 months ago

      Hi Karen,
      It’s so nice from you to say something like that. It’s also a real pleasure to tell my story and it’s even better if you enjoyed it !!
      Guest artists on Doodlewash have each their unique path and I am very proud to be one of them now.
      Thank you for your comment.
      I hope that you will keep loving my art 🙂

  10. Sharon Nolfi 5 months ago

    Lovely skies and water!

    • Remy Lach 5 months ago

      Hi Sharon,

      Thanks a lot for your comment !
      I love subjects that have been built by mother nature.
      Skies and water are among them.
      They are much more forgivable subjects than human body or buildings/cars and at the same time, they convey a sense of peace.
      It seems that many people love skies in my art, I should consider making more of them 🙂

      Have a nice day !

  11. Mugdha 5 months ago

    Hello Remy,

    Thanks so much for so honestly sharing your feelings, struggles and the fact that you felt frustrated but that it was followed by fulfillment and happiness. Thanks most of all for those wonderful tips!

    Mugdha

    • Remy Lach 5 months ago

      Hello Mugdha,
      It’s wonderful if you found these tips useful.
      As you said, I don’t want to appear like the “artist” who came out of nowhere.
      Instead, I think that the best lessons life can teach are through struggles and small victories.
      I hope that you find my future tips as useful as these ones 🙂

  12. LoriCtoo 5 months ago

    Wow! Your work is wonderful and your story is inspiring. Thank you for sharing. I’ll be sure to check your videos.

    • Remy Lach 5 months ago

      Hi LoriCtoo,

      It’s such a nice comment that you wrote. If my story can inspire you, then I think it was worth the effort explaining all my pain ahah.

      Thank you for your interest and I hope to see you soon on Youtube !!

  13. Katja Kubiak 5 months ago

    Hello, i think i have to read this twice. Because i want to find out if your’e best friends, are my best friends too. XD

    • Remy Lach 5 months ago

      Hello Katja,
      Thank you for your comment.
      Wow, it would be such a coincidence.
      Who are thinking of?

  14. Lin Powell 5 months ago

    Lovely work. So interesting to read of your process and all you have gone through to make you into the painter you now are.

    • Remy Lach 5 months ago

      Hello Lin, thank you so much for your comment !!
      I still have a long road in front of me !!
      But now I feel confident enough to teach this medium and it’s pure joy since I started my Youtube channel.
      I hope that you will love my next videos and paintings 😀🎨
      Hope to see you soon 🙂 !!

  15. Tanasirin Witchayacoop 5 months ago

    Wow. Beautiful paintings. I enjoyed your story. Thank you for the advice. I will check your YouTube video for sure.

    • Remy Lach 5 months ago

      Hello Tanasirin, thank you so much for your comment !!
      If my story can help people, then it’s perfect 🙂
      I love to have feedback on my videos !! Don’t hesitate to subscribe as I post weekly videos at least !!
      I hope that you will love my next videos and paintings 😀🎨
      Hope to see you soon 🙂 !!

  16. Diane Hart 5 months ago

    Love your paintings , they are beautiful! Thank you so much for sharing your journey in your artistic life with watercolor.
    You are inspiring me to get back to painting again. Very inspiring!

    • Remy Lach 5 months ago

      Hello Diane, thank you so much for your comment !!
      That’s great if I can help you go back to painting !!
      You can check my Youtube channel to see how I paint my latest artwork.
      Otherwise, if you like my painting style, I created a FREE watercolor masterclass video where I show you in real time how I paint a landscape and I point out the biggest mistakes my students do when painting watercolor.
      I also list all my watercolor supplies so that you know exactly what you need!
      You can check this FREE masterclass by clicking on the following link https://remylach.com
      I hope that you will love my next videos and paintings 😀🎨
      Hope to see you soon 🙂 !!

  17. MAGNY TJELTA 5 months ago

    Love the watercolours , beautiful and inspiring work

    • Remy Lach 5 months ago

      Hello Magny, thank you so much for your comment !!
      It’s great to speak with people who share the same interests.
      Watercolor is such a lonely activity 🙂
      I hope that you will love my next videos and paintings 😀🎨
      Hope to see you soon 🙂 !!

  18. Molly 5 months ago

    Bonjour Rémy! Je suis Americaine mais je n’avais aucune probleme avec votre Anglais. 😉 I loved reading your post here, Thanks for sharing! I am an aspiring watercolorist and frustration is with me all the time. It was helpful to hear about your journey and also to read your tips. I really appreciate your insights and look forward to following your work. (On a side note, I’ve spent quite a bit of time in Southeast Asia and I’m wondering if your background is Laotian or Cambodian?). I look forward to checking out your YouTube videos and your website. Cheers! – Molly

    • Remy Lach 5 months ago

      Bonjour Molly ! Merci pour votre commentaire en français impeccable 🙂 !!
      If you like my painting style, I created a FREE watercolor masterclass video where I show you in real time how I paint a landscape and I point out the biggest mistakes my students do when painting watercolor.
      I also list all my watercolor supplies so that you know exactly what you need!
      You can check this FREE masterclass by clicking on the following link https://remylach.com
      If this masterclass can help you feel less frustration by preventing you from making common watercolor mistakes, then it’s great !
      I hope that you will enjoy my future paintings and videos !!
      Hope to see you soon 🙂 !!
      I’m Cambodian, wow you really have sharp knowledge about the differences between Southeast Asian countries!!

      • Molly 5 months ago

        Hi Remy, thanks for your nice reply and the compliments. I look forward to learning from you and checking out your free masterclass – hooray and thank you for making that available for us. I left out the most important part of my initial comment: your paintings/work are lovely! 😉

        And yes, I’ve spent quite a bit of time in SE Asia since 2005 and have been around a large part of Cambodia (Phnom Penh, Siem Reap, Battambong, Pursat, Otres Beach, Kampot, Kep, and a few shorter day trips outside PP). I’m guessing you might not even have been there yourself if you were born/raised in France by parents who fled the Khmer Rouge. I always feel bad when I start chatting enthusiastically about someone’s native land and he hasn’t seen it for himself. It’s an amazing country and I have many fond memories. I wish I had a blog/website to point you toward for writings/photos but I don’t. Alas, we will connect via art.

        Be well and hope to stay in touch. Enchante! Molly

        • Remy Lach 5 months ago

          Hi Molly !
          Oh that’s great for the masterclass. This is the first time I create a “watercolor course” so your feedback would be goldmine for me 🙂
          Thanks for your comment about my paintings. I really feel joy when people are creating their own stories when they see my paintings. It’s as if my paintings is a trigger for people to dig deep into their memories and their feelings.
          I think this is the real reason why I paint !!
          As you guessed, I have never been in Cambodia because my parents fled from this country in 1975. My mum grew up in Phnom Penh while my father was born in Siem Reap.
          I know Cambodian of my age who went there for the first time and they were shocked when they saw by themselves all the locations where terrible things happened…
          I don’t know. Maybe one day I will have the courage to go there…
          Meanwhile, as you said, art is also a strong connector.
          I’m glad I met you. I am really happy that you are part of my artistic journey.
          Anyway, as you subscribed to my masterclass, you will hear from me through my newsletter !
          Now I realize that this painting journey is much more than an artistic experience.
          It makes me look at myself, at my origins and it forces me to face my own fear as a human being.
          Thanks Molly, really.

          • Molly M. 5 months ago

            Hi Remy, your words really touched me; I had tears in my eyes as I read those last few lines. Wow, just wow. I appreciate you being so vulnerable with me; that is a connection I crave more of these days from people, and I don’t often find it. Thank you! Merci beaucoup. J’espere que vous puissiez comprendre mon anglais. 😉 Cambodia is a beautiful country but it is difficult to see places like the Killing Fields and such. We didn’t go there on our first trip but we did go there and several other difficult places when we came back for a 2nd or 3rd visit. It’s important to see these places in person to better understand and respect the culture and hardship of the people. I have so much love for your native homeland, and admire people like your parents who have endured and fought to have a better life for themselves and their children. I wish more people in my country (and elsewhere) understood the plight of the immigrant. We should be more welcoming of people looking for safety and support.

            I look forward to connecting with you further and reading your newsletter. I forgot to mention: J’habitais a Paris pour 8 mois en 1990-1991. J’etais une femme de menage pour deux Americains dans le 7eme. Ou habitez-vous? Keep on doing art and looking for inspiration, especially during this difficult time. Sending big hugs your way! Molly

          • Remy Lach 5 months ago

            Hi Molly,
            As you said, I admire my parents who fought bravely and overcame their deepest fears to get a better life in France, especially for their children…
            I’m so proud to be their son.

            Some people criticize France a lot, but from my point of view, this country gave me the possibility to have a happy life with no war and no blood bath. I am quite grateful for that.

            Don’t worry, I understand your English very well! Actually, I decided to create my Youtube Channel in English to practice this language a bit more!

            Wow you lived in Paris ! I was 7-8 years old in 1990-1991! Now I lived in the North West suburb of Paris, in a small town called Achères., département 78.

            Thanks again for your comment, let’s connect through my newsletter, I intend to send one every Sunday !

            Rémy.

  19. Mireya 5 months ago

    Oh my God! Thank you for reminding me Iam not alone. Ha! I see myself here and you know what the more I learn the skills and then set them aside to paint my ideas…that’s when the magic happens. The truth is we fail becuse we try to paint like “them” How can we if by our own nature paint like us. All of these paintings are beautiful!

    • Remy Lach 5 months ago

      Hello Mireya ! Thanks a lot for your comment. Indeed each of us is a unique artist!
      I hope that you will enjoy my next videos and paintings as well!

  20. Art By Manaswee 4 months ago

    This is beautiful

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