My watercolor skills are... not... um... well, you'll see, lol.
However, I like the medium and its simplicity (water vs. other annoying media like mineral spirits) and I want to be able to sort of at least play around in it. Thank you in advance for comments/advice. I apologize that the pictures are bad. I wasn't able to catch a very good quality; my camera makes it too dark and my phone makes it too light (hence why I included both). The colors are not as washed out as my phone camera makes it appear. Unfortunately, I don't have access to a scanner that will handle this size paper (the one I have at work is the feed-through type that will take up to 11" wide only; this is 9x12 paper and I'm not sure I can manage to trim a whole inch off the edges without losing some of the actual painting).
I found this thread
, with this picture of a pear
. Normally I'm not inclined to paint fruit and still life subjects (I admit a love for landscapes), but I liked the pear for some reason, and I thought, "I could maybe work on that." I'm intimidated by complexity, so this pear is simple but also lets me play with color. Each pear is a quick enough study that I don't get bored or frustrated just with sheer time involvement.
So: six studies, playing around with different techniques, some of which I've never tried before and some of which I've never mastered (my patience is thin and failure frustrates me, so my practice tends to be brief). (The original intent was to keep trying with similar techniques and attempt to improve, but I kept having different ideas so after the first two I decided to just go with it.) I told myself that what happens will happen, and not to get angry/give up.
I mixed up some colors and kept using the same ones across the whole page, for simplicity and to keep all of the pears harmonious (and because this was a technique study, not a color study). A light yellow green; another with a bit more green added; an orange-red; the same very diluted; the same with a bit of reddish brown added (for stem and such); and an olive green (the second green with bit of a dark brown, umber-ish color added), for that shaded-green part on the lower right.
#1: Attempt at realism, -ish. I tried to use dry-brush techniques on the reddest parts. This had some success with intensity, but the end of the red used there is very abrupt. I can't decide how I feel about that, but I resisted the urge to try to "fix" it. (I wonder if it would have been less abrupt had I used my fan brush rather than a small flat.) One lesson I *have* learned well in watercolor is that the more I try to repair a mistake, the worse it gets! Leave it and move on. (It's also a lesson I've learned in music and dance-- if I mess up, I need to keep going and forget about it. If I continue to think about it as I go on, I will be distracted into messing up again. Yes, this is always a lesson I learn the hard way, usually multiple times before it sticks!)
The dots seem contrived. One thing about a pear is all of the tiny variations in color. I had a hard time capturing that.
For the reflection of the light, I just left a small area of the original light-green wash (I felt white might be too harsh, based on past experience. I don't really know how to make these look natural). The reflections look fake anyway, in all studies.
#2: Having a go at all wet-in-wet. It did come out sort of with the effects I want it to, but you can see the places where I got impatient and didn't wait long enough for parts to dry before I continued (this also a symptom of not having a good grasp on "how wet" the paper is or how wet it is will influence certain behaviors of the paint). And you can see a total muckup on the right middle where the reddest bit shades back into the green, because I used two different washes of green and laid in the red, but the area with the first wash was too dry, so then I was belatedly trying to re-wet the drier areas and... yes. This is what happened. Muddy mud.
I decided to try a contrast on the edges with a light shadow wash. Instead of using straight black, I decided to pick up a technique I found on one of the color-tutorial threads here and make the shadow tinted toward the complementary of the pear (yellow-green pear; red-violet shadow) in order to make the pear "pop" a bit more. I went back in and softened the edges with clear water later. I sort of like how it came out. (This technique makes me want to try it with painting a Gala apple; I think it would lend itself well to the striations in color that a Gala has.)
Reflections created by scrubbing out some color with a cloth.
#3: Playing with mixed-media; I put down some strokes of color in colored pencil (regular, not watercolor pencil, though if I had the latter it would be fun to try the same with them, assuming they would blend slightly but not entirely with the wash). Mostly I just wanted to see what effect I would come out with. It's interesting. Some of my pencil strokes could have been smaller so they were less obvious.
#4: An attempt at a loose dry-brush technique, but I have yet to figure out how I can use a dry-brush technique with wet paints... then the brush gets wet and there goes my dry-brushing. I need to read up on this.
#5: Having a go at underpainting the red parts. I failed at making the red parts not-homogenous (and I meant to glaze in a bit more in spots before I went in with the greens, but then forgot when I returned to the painting after drying the first layer). I also forgot to add the olive green on the lower right when underpainting, and adding it later caused a backrun, though this got sorted out a bit with the subsequent wash. I also admit that on these last two (especially this one), I was scraping the bottom of the mixing dish with the green colors; I didn't want to mix more when I was so close to done.
#6: An attempt at dropping in color on damp paper. Once again I fell victim to not knowing exactly how wet/dry was too
wet/dry. Also, I was letting it dry a little bit after the green layer and forgot to keep checking it and it dried on its own, so I had to re-wet before adding the red, and lost the textured color I had (which was not much anyway because the paper was still too wet when I added the green). Also, I didn't dilute the red enough (and forgot to test on scrap paper), so it is way too intense.
Critiques I'd like:
1. Finishing. This is always an issue with my work in any media. I know I stop before it's "done." I just am never sure what else to add (I'm really not naturally inclined toward visual art; I don't have an "eye" for these things so I really have to work on it), and sometimes when I do try, it comes out muddy and/or contrived and/or overdone. I watch tutorials and see the person doing it continue past a point at which I would have said the work was finished, and it looks great, but I can't for the life of me get into my head what more I can do to my work so it doesn't look half-done and elementary-school-ish.
2. How to fix, or rather avoid in future, the various mistakes (both ones I've outlined, and maybe some I don't even see).
3. I haven't the first clue how to make round things look round/3-dimensional instead of flat. I am certain there are tutorials here which I will read, but any tips specifically relating to these pears would also be appreciated.