Which Medium? (part one)

Every time I return to painting in watercolour after using other media it is almost a home-coming. It is my favourite medium by far. So, I ask myself, why do I ever use anything else? Why can’t I choose watercolour for every work, and simply not move away from it?

My work as an artist demands that I respond to my clients’ requests for portraits, landscapes, gifts for anniversaries. In rural Italy that is usually a request for traditional oil paintings. The climate here, and tradition, mean that watercolours are less popular.

Occasionally I bravely give away all my acrylics and oils, claiming my space in the water colour world. A commission always takes me back to oils and acrylics. Acrylics are essential for under-painting in the winter, as oil takes too long to dry in my ancient stone house with small windows.

a fb arce ptg

Acrylic plein air painting of a rural hillside town in Italy, started in a group excursion and completed at home in the studio.

My styles change but my hand remains the same; I like a primary palette and I prefer to give the viewer access to my work by at least a part of it being easily recognisable.

My ventures towards abstract are most successful in watercolour, as I love to push the boundaries of water. This work (watercolour on 300gsm hot press smooth) is neither strictly abstract nor in a primary palette, but it does show the difference in the styles I have used to achieve the result I want. wc_washyWhy do I love watercolour so much? Maybe it is for at least some of these reasons: It is challenging, unpredictable at times, and allows me to push boundaries. It demands that I sit peacefully, reflectively, and enjoy the process. It can sooth, inspire, excite and thrill all in one session.

On a practical level, it is portable, watercolour works are easy to store, and the paint doesn’t ruin my clothes. Acrylics and oils somehow jump off my brush or palette and onto my clothes even when I am being super-careful, or when I forget that I haven’t changed into studio garb and want to make ‘just one more’ tiny alteration. (Can you guess who has ruined her vest, a sweatshirt, and two pairs of jeans in the last month?)

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