of cool thoughts.

It’s been hot outside. Isn’t that typical of us? Complaining in the winter that it’s too cold then complaining in the summer that it’s too hot. Maybe there is some kind of philosophical mindset we all need to embrace about living in the moment and being happy with where and when we currently are.

I opted to embrace cool thoughts in the heat wave, and painted a winter scene (a second attempt of my last watercolour class project) using cool colours.

Also I tend to be a guy that overuses colours and underuses brushes. I’ll use too many conflicting tones and shades, fail to mix them appropriately and then slap them all on using the same brush.

Instead, I tried to use few colours and more brushes for this piece.

In fact, I only used one colour, a big sloppy bowl of blue (with some red mixed in) and about five different brushes of various sizes and styles including rounds, flats and even a rigger. One colour, five brushes. Talk about taking things in the opposite direction, eh?

The first attempt at this painting was in class and was all about colour:

Lots of colours and just two brushes. (Also we used a tracing transfer technique for the base image, where I freehanded the second one, so the first attempt is closer to the reference photo, but who’s counting, huh?)

See the difference?

tonal monochromatics

Call me strange, but I've always loved monochrome images. Black and white. Sepia. Whatever. I went through a phase in my photography days where one of the custom settings on my mode-select dial was strictly set to take medium-contrast black and white digital images, so that I could just spin that knob over to C1 and be snapping artsy-fartsy moody shots whenever the mood struck. Now that I'm a little more comfortable in my watercolour skin it has become increasingly obvious to me that the layering technique I've been using to add texture and shadow and shape and depth with colours is not only a great way to make monochromatic images (such as the feature image in this post created exclusively with a single shade of blue) but it is in fact simpler than painting with colour. Why? Because it's literally the same technique, but instead of carefully planning and mixing and finding the right hue, you just keep painting with the blue. I love it.

All this technique-dabbling, though, is really just me prepping for three weeks in Europe this summer and thinking about how to capture that trip in a variety of styles and moods. Snapshot mages full of colour, architectural loose sketches, or old buildings and wobbly streets brought to life in tones and simple palettes.

All of it is opening a broadening scope of artistic opportunity for me to keep figuring stuff out.