For a long time I've been aware that watercolor, as a finished work of art, is not as desirable or valuable for collectors or interior designers as oil or acrylic paintings are. Some may argue this statement, but historically, it's been a medium used for sketching ideas for oil paintings, for travel journals, or as a pastime for fancy Edwardian ladies. I'm not really sure how I fell into it. It was probably the convenience and cleanup, since I was only in middle school when I started exploring it. Practice leads to proficiency, and proficiency leads to comfort, and comfort leads to boredom sometimes. Lately, I've hit the boredom stage with my watercolor work. No matter how hard I tried to push those values and liven up my color palette, I still ended up with delicate, muted finished pieces that tend to recede in a room full of artwork.
This year it was time to try something new. I have also been fed up with the cost of framing work on paper, so I was looking for a gateway medium to oil painting that would allow me to get a feel for opaque techniques. Painting with transparent watercolor requires that you allow the white of the paper to remain as your highlights, and you darken areas to create weight and shadow. Once the paint has been applied, you're usually stuck with it, and it's very unforgiving. There is no "pickin' up" what you've "laid down!" With oil pastels, oil paint, and acrylic the process is completely the opposite! You can easily layer on top of mistakes or scratch them away, build values and rich tones more easily, and top it all off with bright highlights to make things pop instead of masking them out with goopy fluid or painting carefully around them.
I asked for a set of new oil pastels for Christmas, and good ol' Mom came through. I've barely dipped a brush since! Besides the vibrant colors and the chunky, interesting strokes they make, I'm loving working on a toned surface. Instead of having to retain the white of the paper, the dark black and brown remain for interesting outlines and instant shadows. There's so much more contrast! I'm really in love, and every one of the pieces I've posted on Instagram has been received very well.
I'm excited about where this goes, and if you know of a way to seal these babies up and avoid the cost of more glass framing, let me know, because I'm not quite ready to leap into the expense and fumes of oil painting. Keep an eye on my Instagram feed for new work in this bright, bold frontier!