I have a very weird confession to you. I actually don’t like most watercolor artists.
I don’t like how their watercolors look. They look too plain. Too dead. Too subdued.
I don’t even see myself as a watercolor painter. Rather, I’ve always seen myself as an artist. I just happen to use watercolor, gouache, and ink as my three headed attack monster.
I think I know why my paintings look so much different than everyone else.
I use way, way more pigment than the average watercolor artist.
I don’t know if they’re trying to be cheap. Or if they’re afraid to take risks. Or if they’re afraid of multiple layers.
Whatever the case, you’ll see my paintings are bold. They really blare at you. They scream.
Other watercolor painters look timid. They don’t pop out.
I like bold, rich colors. Just like with popular music, I like heavily distorted, screaming guitars and strong vocals from someone with a rich voice.
Yes, the two are connected.
I just spent the last two hours reading my competitors’ blogs. Yes, you should know what your competition is up to.
You don’t have to be an ass of course. These are probably wonderful people that I’d love to share some whiskey with.
But the advise. A lot of it is bad. And I’ll explain why.
For instance, I just looked at an excellent and talent watercolor artist and enjoyed looking at her works. But then she tells you to start off with cheap student paints.
Yeah, great advise if you’re a student. But if you’re actually learning at a fast pace, you’ll outgrow those crappy student paints faster than you can use them up.
Then what? Throw them out?
When I first started watercolors, I gave myself a ten painting rule. I told myself that by the 10th painting, I’ll have something that’s actually good enough to show off.
Was I right?
Yes. Because I did a lot of learning.
Keep in mind though that I have an unfair advantage. I was already a cartoonist so it was simply a medium change. I already had basic art technique down, especially expressions (the bread and butter of a cartoonist).
Why does this matter?
I bought one of those 10 packs of cheap watercolor paper. By the time I was halfway done with the pack, I already hated the paper because by sheer accident, I also had some Arches paper which had a torn cover and was marked cheaply.
If you don’t know Arches, it’s pretty much everyone’s favorite watercolor paper. You’ll see surveys and everyone puts it at least in their top three and the majority list it as their favorite.
Anyways, halfway done with the pack and I was trying out Arches. And it was night and day. Arches good. The cheap stuff bad.
You could see the difference immediately. How Arches was like a boxer with a stone jaw. Whatever I threw at Arches, it took. A heavy wash layer. Then another heavy wash layer. Then another.
The cheap stuff though was like a boxer with a glass jaw. By the second heavy wash, pieces of the paper ended up in the water. Yes, seriously.
Same thing with cheap paints. You’ll know the difference immediately, especially if you love using a lot of pigment like I do.
Maybe they expect you to learn at a slower rate. I actually find that insulting. If I’m teaching you something, you’re going to have something you can show off sooner rather than later. And definitely before you run out of that first 10 pack of cheap watercolor paper or use up those cheap student watercolor paints.