Drawing & Painting on “Underpainting” Watercolors With Peggy Burkosky


“Autumn Swans” by Peggy Burkosky

The watercolor medium is one of the most versatile. We can paint in a highly controlled and detailed “photo-realistic” method, or splash wet and wet color and watch it paint itself before our eyes. I am a firm believer in letting a medium shine with it’s inherent properties –¬†watercolor is “wet” and it looks best when it is used for these kind of effects. Yes, it can be methodically glazed, layer upon on layer into the most glorious and luminescent art pieces in high realism. Oils, acrylics, pastels can have the same procedure and effects. But the one thing that they can’t do is spontaneously flow across the page in action and excitement, often creating exciting shapes and mixtures of colors that are beyond any planning. “Happy accidents” we call them.
A wet-in-wet underpainting in watercolor sets the stage for many possibilities. Once it is dry we can continue painting in a loose, wet in wet manner as we develop distant shapes and negative spaces. Here is where it can become more intuitive than ever, since the paint has a mind of it’s own and can spark new ideas. New unplanned shapes can spark new ideas and lead us into drawing objects, shapes and passages we originally hadn’t planned. Thus abstract or highly detailed areas are developed intuitively. This is the charm of watercolor.
In this demonstrated painting “Autumn Swans” from the 2 day workshop held in Port Alberni British Columbia Canada at Echo Centre Parks and Recreation September 2016 we can see areas developed intuitively once the main wet in wet washes were laid down. Sometimes it becomes difficult to stop painting when it’s intuitive but if we can lay down the brush and call it finished we are far better ahead. Less is more!

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