Two Backpacks

Watercolor Backpacks
Two Backpacks, watercolor on paper 11 in. x 15 in., August 2017

I have learned about how artists do quick, informative sketches of their subjects to refer to later when forming the painting. I used this method for this watercolor. I sketched the afternoon light pattern to the left of the chair, and then worked from that sketch of my room to do my painting. This method is convenient because then you aren’t reliant on light scheme, or even on working in the precise spot at all; the sketch provides you with the information you need. (I once wondered how Monet could paint a winter country road scene so well and fully if battling the elements at the same time).

I put two, colorful backpacks on a chair in a cozy corner of my afternoon-sun lit room. This scene is peaceful, somewhat romantic, and I imagined two people sitting on a chair together. With my ink drawings in mind, I approached this watercolor in a looser, more spontaneous way, and overall do like the way it came out. Particularly in the shadows on the walls, the backpacks, and the hardwood floor. However, I believe I have a long way to go before my watercolors feel effortless and really eye-catching. I looked at Edward Hopper watercolors at the library, and am amazed at the wonderful balance between grounded shapes and wispy strokes and shading. His watercolors truly look effortless, and look as though he did them fast and with real conviction and confidence. I want to strive for that in my own practice. Sometimes internal pressure to make a good painting inhibits me from letting loose and relying on my instinctive skill to do the work. I need to remember that when I go with the flow, I enjoy the process better, and the outcome turns out more fluid and interesting.

For future watercolor endeavors, I want to use larger paper because I think more room will help me feel less confined and ready to flow! I also want to make my watercolors more complex. By this, I mean, a wider variety of mark-making. And also higher complexity of color and juxtaposition of moments in the painting.

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