Griffy Lake Morning - Drawing/Watercolor by Brian Gordy
Walk with Drawing Run with Paint
I have been a teacher and practitioner of watercolor painting for almost 40 years. Many of those years were spent teaching watercolor workshops to adults. For most beginners, and even for those with a good bit of experience painting with oils, drawing, or the lack thereof, has contributed most to the breakdown of a watercolor. Overworking a watercolor is perhaps the most common, and really the most irreversible mistake one can fall into. And , as I have said many times to my students, "Overworking a watercolor is just a symptom of underdrawing."
Because of the transparent properties of the medium of watercolor, and the fact that it is applied as pigment in a liquid solution, it is very difficult to change a great deal as you move past certain points in a painting. In the process of painting with transparent watercolor, one has to remember that, in general, light colors do not cover dark colors, and white is achieved by leaving the paper unpainted. So, any areas left unresolved when beginning to paint become susceptible to a variety of problems- loss of highlights (by painting over them) or, filling an area with a color that is too dark to adjust , or an unsuccinct shape that becomes impossible to rein into correct proportion without compromising edge crispness or wash quality. There are plenty of critical decisions that need to be made during the process of painting a watercolor that require attention to timing, surface wetness, color subtleties, wash quality, and edge retention. There is also a clear headedness that is necessary to be able to spot an accidental effect that might occur that makes things even better than you intended, such as a backwash or bleed in exactly the right place. Do all your thinking and planning with your drawing so you can set yourself free to paint... walk with drawing, run with paint.