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How to Paint Effortlessly

Ever wonder what goes into making a masterpiece?! It all starts here...

Planning my painting.

This is perhaps the most important part of watercolor painting. Without it, I'm betting on happy mistakes. And that means a lot of wasted paper.

Part One: Motivation.

I paint what I connect with—spiritually and emotionally. For the last decade, it's been animals and birds. It shifts periodically, of course, but I've always found my way back to the animal spirit.

Part Two: Composition.

I’ve always believed that composition is more important than technique. Have a great drawing, and painting is really easy. So, the first step is drawing out my subject. It is essential. I was lucky that I spent years drawing before I took up painting, so I have a solid foundation. But I think even more important than technical drawing capability is how to put together a winning composition. I could have a really elementary drawing with a masterful composition, and it is game over, I have a winner. Mastering Composition by Ian Roberts is a great book that takes a deep dive into this very topic. You can pick it up here if you're interested. I’ll take my own dive into this in a future post. Moving on…

Part Three: Visualization.

The third part of planning my painting is all about visualization. Watercolor is unforgiving. Make a big mistake and it’s hard to rebound. Of course, appropriate and solid technique will also drastically reduce your mistakes. But both are important! After I have my drawing prepared, I take some time to visualize the end result. When I have a picture in my mind of what I want, my process is less turbulent, and I have a much greater chance of capturing that image successfully. I imagine the details. Closely! What colors are used and where? Are my brushstrokes big or small? Is the painting loose and impressionistic or controlled and realistic? Or both, but in different areas. Is it detailed and complex or succinct and simple. These are just a few of the questions I ask myself before beginning.

Part Four: Stop Thinking and Paint.

With any luck something like this kingfisher comes to life. Enjoy!

And that’s how it’s done!

Until next time…

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