Watercolor is an amazing medium, but also incredibly challenging, particularly when you choose subjects with a lot of reflected light as I tend to do quite often. Since the prompt was “light” today, I decided to try combining all three of my favorite things to paint: glass, metal, and edible stuff. Looking at that list now, it seems really bizarre all together. But, I love food and drinks so that’s an easy one, and the other materials are there a lot because I love the way light dances on them causing the oddest reflections to appear. When sketching metal and glass, I don’t really think about the object when I’m painting, I just get lost in the shapes that I see. The shapes make absolutely no sense, but I paint them anyway. It’s fun to let my mind rest and just trust in my eyes. Once when I was struggling with painting very early on, Philippe told me, “Just paint what you see!” This seemed so obvious at the time, but then I realized I had been painting what I assumed should be there instead. So that simple comment ended up being quite a revelation and something that continues to help me when I’m painting today.
Of course, when painting something this intricate, it’s equally good to have a bit more time. But I’ve grown fond of my quick daily dashes and if I spent any more time, I would only get a bit bored. Actually, on days when I struggle and it takes more time, I find myself jabbing bits of color in at the end, like a little kid playing with his dinner when he’d rather just go outside and play. It’s never that I’m tired of painting, I’m simply tired of painting “that thing” in front of me. This is probably why I’ve never really left my trusty sketchbook. I love keeping it small and quick so I can move on to some other challenge the next day. One would think I’d tend to avoid difficult things like glass and metal entirely, but to me this is where watercolor truly shines, often quite literally. I love the effects of light that can be produced with, in my case, just a slight bit of patience. I’m realizing that even though I rarely repeat a subject, the more I paint a particular type of material, the better I understand it.
As I move forward, I’m starting to learn about the types of things I absolutely love to paint and things like this doodlewash have all three. When I started this month’s adventure and titled it Paint What You Love, I had assumed I loved to paint lots of different things equally. But in truth, I think I’m stilling learning what those things are. For now, it’s glass, metal, and food. I’m not sure what kind of art that amounts to, but I’ve managed ways to sneak them in whenever I can. Actually, it’s just a plate with food, cutlery and a beverage that I need to embody all three. I’m no so much a food illustrator as an illustrator who loves to celebrate the actually eating part. And always, no matter what, I remember those wise words and continue to try to paint what I see. Each day, I may or may not improve but I’m still learning, and I know in my heart that I’m always seeing the light.
About the Doodlewash
Sennelier L’Aquarelle: Red Orange, Opera Rose, Turquoise Green and Payne’s Grey. Lamy Safari Al Star pen with Platinum Carbon black ink in an A6 Hahnemühle Watercolor Book.
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!