Imagined Landscapes – Watercolor Experiments

Before the pandemic, I thought of myself as a crafter. Now, I have loftier ideas, and I think I just might be creating art.

Maybe I’m looking at the quality of my work differently, or maybe I feel like I’m using techniques that are more “arty” than “crafty” or maybe before I was just too afraid to call it art because then I was invoking a standard, a grading criteria, is it good art or bad art? I don’t really think of crafts that way – good crafts or bad crafts – no good handmade cards or bad handmade cards – all handmade is special. But, the more time I spent in my attic craft room/office/bunker, the more I didn’t care if it was good art or bad art, but it was definitely art. And, I even really really like some of it, like what I’m going to share today.

Over the past week or so, I’ve been watching a lot of tutorials from Camilla Damsbo and the youtube channel, The Mind of Watercolor. Both artists create spontaneous landscapes using wet and wet techniques. A lot of people think watercolor is so hard because you can’t control it, but the truth is you can control it to a certain extent because the paint will go where the water goes. I think watercolor is hard because it’s just hard – it’s a transparent medium that has to be layered, and if you aren’t controlling how much water is in your brush you’re going to make unhappy accidents. I could go on and on about why watercolor is hard, but in general – it will go where the water goes. What happens after that can be lovely!

So, here’s what happened when I loaded up my “brush” (credit card in this case) with paint straight from the tube, and using 100% cotton paper (this technique is not for cheap paper ) that I thoroughly wet on the top above my imaginary horizon, and spattered water through the “ground”, swiped my credit card through the water –

I wish I had taken a photo of this before I tried to add some details like trunks, and bigger blooms in the trees – it was my favorite, and the pops of yellow were crazy pretty. I kind of wrecked it, at least in my mind, when I went to fiddle.

Then there was this one, where my fiddling was more successful, although my trees definitely need some work:

Lovely right? When you dip the loaded up credit card into the water, the paint immediately takes flight across the page – its so exhilarating and relaxing all at the same time. Watercolor is difficult, but look at this, look at this! The hours of aggravation – and there are hours and there will continue to be hours of frustration – are worth it.

And then my favorite! I figured that if you could use this technique to construct an imaginary landscape, why not a bouquet of flowers? So, I “drew” a line of water up the center of the paper, and put blobs of water where I thought there might be blooms or bulbs. The result wasn’t what I was going for, but no frustration here – just went with it. Instead of flowers, I created a feather:

I think I’m going to put it in a frame. It’s probably going to go in the bathroom, but up on a wall nonetheless. I don’t know why I love it so much, but I do.

I would make a hundred of these things – one after another – if the paper weren’t so precious. And, I’ve really come to a point where I don’t treat paper as precious – it’s just paper. But some paper is better than other paper, and I’ll probably save this technique for a day when I need a real pick me up. Unfortunately, these days, that could be every day, but I’ll save it for those really low days, days that can be rescued by vibrant color swirling around in pools of water, become trees, and feathers, and flowers and light.

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