The things I love best about watercolor its purity and simplicity, pigment + water, no other medium is as basic. I believe the most beautifully painted watercolors are those that make the most of these attributes. In order to work successfully in watercolor, an artist must possess the confidence to allow it to be fluid, loose and unpredictable. Yet I see so many watercolor artists who choose to beat it into submission or rely to heavily on “techniques” that distract and detract from its essential simplicity.
To paint successfully with watercolor, I believe an artist must be in command of the following skills:
- Excellent drawing skills and confidence in drawing, including the ability to draw with a brush
- Strong understanding of the importance of values and their relationships
- Knowledge of color theory and how to create a harmonious palette
- Confidence to logically react to the painting during its development process
- Ability to know when a painting is finished, ensuring that it does not become overworked
Painting in watercolor can quickly become frustrating if an artist does not possess these basic skills. Yet many watercolor instructors do not focus on them, choosing instead to put the emphasis on medium specific techniques and “tricks”. Having these skills will further an artists ability to work in any medium, hence, they should never be ignored or overlooked in a class or workshop.