To be successful at anything, good planning is required. Watercolor painting is no exception. If you approach a painting with little to no thinking and planning, it will likely end up a mess. Even if the painting turns out alright, that's mostly due to happy accident, and we should not rely on that. Watercolor is one of the most unpredictable medium there is. Don't make it harder by start a painting mindlessly and hoping it will turn out good.
So what are we planning? We are planning for the order of things. Painting is quite like cooking (and I love cooking). You prepare your ingredient and your cookware, and you do things step by step. A good recipe usually have things layout nicely for you to follow. It has the list of ingredient, what do you do each step, and what do you expect in result. The result can still vary depend on your cooking experience and how closely are you following the recipe. But now you have a goal to achieve and a direction to get there. It is the same for painting. But instead of following the recipe from someone else, you have to create one for yourself each painting. Really think about how you want to achieve a certain look before you start painting!
My latest painting "Hollywood Blvd" was carefully thought out before I start. The building on the right is brightly lit by the sunlight, so I knew I have to keep it white before I started. I also knew the trees has to be connected, so I was able to control the timing and paint them in one wash. I knew things in the distance have to be pushed back, so they need to be done during the second wash only. I planned all these out when I was still drawing. This is why I mentioned not to skip your drawing. Drawing is a perfect time for you to plan out your painting strategy. Ask yourself-
- What's the 3-4 groups of shapes can I identify?
- What's the focus of the painting.
- What do I paint in my first wash and which area do I need to preserve as white.
- How do I connect the shapes and which wash do I do that?
- What value do each element has to be?
- Does the composition looks good?
and so on...
I wager that if you planned out your painting before you start, you will have less chance of wanting to fix your painting. I see far too many people trying to focus on specific technique in painting instead of creating the whole picture. At the end of the day, it's all about the whole picture. If your painting is not well thought out, and you only focusing on painting technique, your whole painting can fall apart. A good painting should be well thought out and execute in confidence, with good technique to support it.
New Painting video
It's been a while since my last painting video. I'm happy to share with you a new one. This is a rare occasion where I do a portrait painting demo!