Thursday, June 9, 2011

Sixteen Rules to Forget

Koi  (final) watercolor on Yupo 11x14

A month and a half ago when I was getting ready to frame the paintings for my show at the library, I had to stop and go back over my earlier version of  the Koi painting, further deepening the shadows (the photograph unfortunately still doesn't capture the darks well enough) and adding some more details to the fish and the water.  I like this newer more vibrant version :). Under glass with  'museum white' double mat really gives the painting a wonderful 'finished' look. I can never  get over how matting and framing dresses up a painting!!! 

I must admit I have been washing, painting, rewashing and painting again on regular paper for a few years  but  its easier on Yupo.  Yupo paper  has helped me be bolder with trying out various options for a painting --especially going darker, then coming back and saving the whites. It has helped me take chances and  try out different solutions on the same painting till I am satisfied. I play with shapes, values, colors or other elements with abandon. Recently I reread Arne Westerman's book "Painting Watercolors Filled with Life and Energy." and it reaffirmed for me the method in my madness. At the end of the book he has  a chapter on Six Things to Remember and Sixteen Rules to Forget (my favorite)! I am sharing shortened versions of both below (and that will also help me remember better .)

Remember these: 
1. Paint only those things you feel connected to.
2.  Consider the uniqueness of your idea.
3.  See your work as a rectangle -not a person or a thing in the middle of a rectangle.
4.  Simplify.
5.  Use light like a film director.
6.  Use color with boldness. 

Forget These Rules: Rules (in italics) and my summarized version of his  refreshingly candid comments/explanation (not in italics) 
1.  Be careful to avoid "ouzles" in your painting. -Don't worry-its one of the exclusive qualities of watercolor.
2.  Design is simply a matter of picking the right formula. Not really. Just keep it simple. 
3. Watercolor is an unforgiving medium. Nonsense. You can paint, wash it off, restate and wash again.
4.  Expensive brushes are better and last longer. Not necessarily.  Experiment and find brushes just right for you.
5.  Paper must be stretched before painting. Not true.
6.  Don't use opaque white paint. Thats cheating.  A silly rule aimed to prove how difficult it is to paint 'transparent color.' The Old Masters used white paint. Cerulean blue, red & orange cadmiums, and yellow ochre are as opaque as white. 
7.  Always erase your pencil lines.  Not necessary.  It adds interest and texture.
8.  Be careful with the paper's surface.  Good watercolor paper takes a lot of abuse and its the results that count.
9.  Be neat and tidy.  Wrong.
10. Don't waste film, paint, paper and other supplies. Better to waste than lose a great opportunity.
11. Don't paint from photographs. Paint on the scene or work from photographs. Go either way without guilt.
12. Always work light to dark.  Not true. Develop as you go. 
13. Make every brushstroke count. No. You will play it safe and go nuts.
14.  Watercolor requires tremendous control. Not true. If you don't like it wash it off.
15.  Don't paint a vertical subject in a vertical format. Not necessarily.
16. Always stay inside the lines.  The term "crossing the line" suggests adventure. 

I close with these words from Arne Westerman: "You are an artist. Go to work." 


Carolum Art said...

Nice work!!

Sanctified Spaces said...

I love Koi..that's a nice painting

meera said...

Thank you @Carolum Art ! I appreciate your comment.

meera said...

@Sanctified Spaces,Thanks! Koi with their colors and energy are really fun to paint :)

padmaja said...

I am sure this piece will steal many a hearts at the show! All the best Meera!

meera said...

Thanks Padmaja. The show is done and the paintings are home --thats when it occurred me to post the final version :)

Leovi said...

I like those beautiful tones and colors in fish and water, beautiful painting. Have a good Sunday.

meera said...

Leovi, Thank you! appreciate your comments a lot! The colors sparkle like jewels on Yupo :)

Kathy Staicer said...

I love the reworked Koi. The rules are great advise. I agree with most of them.

meera said...

Thanks Kathy! Curious to know which ones you don't agree with.....

Kathy Staicer said...

Well its not that I totally disagree but these are the ones that I don't think are 100% correct:

1. If "ouzles" are blooms, they sometimes are just fine but othertimes they can ruin a painting.

3. Watercolor is not as unforgiving as was once thought, but if you're not using yupo paper then you can't always wash it all away.

meera said...

Kathy, I agree- sometimes I guess we can't wish (wash) away our mistakes !!!!

Crystal Cook said...

I love this piece meera! Gorgeous flowing fish and water. :) And Arne is my HERO!! I love those rules and the not rules too. :)

meera said...

Thank you, Crystal! Those 'not rules' really free you up!

Teresa said...

I LOVE this post... love the do's and love the don'ts... will have to check that book out. Thanks for posting this!

Your koi painting has such a wonderful rhythm to it.. beautiful job, Meera!

meera said...

Thank you Teresa! Enjoy the book :)

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