Watercolor is a fast medium. Mainly because overwork it is not a good idea. The longer you work on it, the more layers you add on to it, the less fresh it become. Depend on the size of the painting, I rarely work over 4 hours on a painting. That’s what makes it the medium of my choice. I can usually finish a painting in one sitting (or standing, I don’t paint sitting down).
That’s not to say I rush through a painting. Working fast doesn’t mean you rush to the finish product. I made that mistake in the live demo I gave a few days ago. 90-minute is a very awkward time frame for a painting. There’s not enough time for me to do a finished painting at my current skill level and experience, but more than enough time for the audiences to start feeling bored from watching me work. Because of the desire to do a fun-to-watch demo, I rushed through the most important stage of the painting – drawing.
Drawing is the foundation and the backbone of your painting and should NOT be rushed.
Nothing is worse for your painting than a bad start. But since it is quite boring to do and watch, I hope I can skip that step and go straight into the joy of dabbing my brush in the palette and let it dance on the paper. However, without a good solid drawing, my brush will be dancing without a proper choreography! Take my live demo for example, because I rushed through the drawing, I had to start guessing where to paint and to define the shape without guide. I ended up with an unsuccessful painting. Thankfully, the people at the demo were very kind and supportive. But I learned a valuable lesson. You cannot rush to a successful painting. Good solid drawing and planning is required.
This does not mean you work very slow and overthink everything. You still want to be fast and spontaneous. But there should be a lot of thinking and planning before you lay down your first brush stroke. Your drawing doesn’t and shouldn’t be too detail, but it should be accurate. Actually, drawing is a great way to get familiarize with the subject and explore the possibility. Don’t treat it lightly and rush it through. Watercolor master Charles Reid said that 80% of your painting is the drawing. And we should definitely heed his teaching.