Watercolours are a joy to use once you have gotten to know the beast you are taming. They can be applied as wet as you like or as dry as you like. The important thing is that you practice and learn where your comfort zone is. I love watercolour when I apply it wet on wet which is especially great if you are working outside because you can capture colour, shape and form quickly. I personally rarely draw in pencil. You are stuck with it once you have painted it in so unless you are really confident in your drawing, use either pastel - NOT charcoal - to sketch, or a very dilute Payne's Grey applied with a fine brush. Better still, be brave and just go in with the paint! The sketch to the left was done at Woolacoombe Bay in Devon. The sketch took about five or six minutes. I wanted particularly to replicate the shape and form of the rocks, the hazy hills in the distance, the choppiness of the sea complete with resultant surf dancing up the sandy beach, leaving the shoreline sand wet and further up the beach a brighter, more vibrant dry sand. I didn't need detail just shape, form and an impression strong enough to bring home and replicate, which I did and sold the day after the work was completed. The lady that bought it lived there and remarked on how well I had captured the elements.
In the well worn chestnut of photograph versus sketch debate, there are times when only a sketch will do. To capture the energy I had to get it down quickly because the tide was moving so fast, ten minutes later the rocks would be hidden by the incoming tide, my haste shows in my brush stroke, particularly the strokes used for the water. We wouldn't always be able to readily glean such information from a photograph.
Use your watercolour palette as you would a best friend, run everything past your trusty box of paints - Sketches and plans for landscapes, pet portraits, plans for larger works all scaled down to fit neatly on your pad, which then becomes a journal. I love the pads which are glued. I can take them out and have no worries about dragging a board and masking tape with me. It is much cheaper to experiment with colours with watercolour, especially if the finished work is planned in oil or acrylic.
If you are finding that your watercolours are thick, you may feel more comfortable with and prefer to use a very watered down gouache or acrylic. Acrylic ink behaves much the same way and can be watered down quite successfully.
The important thing is to have fun an enjoy using your new skills, pushing your personal parameters a little more each time.
Remember not to stress, try always to have fun and most of all enjoy your work!
xx As Always Written & Offered In The Spirit Of Love xx