Watercolor Painters Are Designers

For many years I strived and struggled with the superficial, yet valid argument -Am I an artist if I illustrate?

Such debates are common in the art world. Being derivative or even being financially successful bothers elite-minded people. I mostly disagree. This mindset has been a barrier for many people who would love to do art, but someone usually an art teacher, parent, or even a “friend” has made a negative comment to this tune.

Is everyone on the planet created to be a successful artist? No, but if we tell people they can’t be before they ever really get a chance to prove themselves we even damage our own careers.

Thankful for Crimson 11_5_14

I always talk to people with aspirations. I don’t care whether you’re in kindergarten or whether you are 80 years old.

Art talent may be a gift from God, but I am not God and will not get in the way of His work in an individual’s life.

Beyond being a successful watercolor painter, which is more defined by economic success than skill and talent there are the design principles which define art in general.

It’s likely that more blog posts will follow on the listed topics pertaining to designing a watercolor painting, but I want to give the point and a general synopsis so that you can grasp what you need to take the next step as a watercolor painter. If you want to read more about designing a picture from an illustrator’s point of view, click here: Designing A Watercolor Painting.

You’ve got to have a “Go For It!” attitude before you design your watercolor painting.

You Are A Designer. If you paint or draw or take photos, etc…you are a designer. How can this be? You have to make decisions based on placement and whether one element is more important than another.

Decide Your Finished Work’s Size, First. Always make decisions with the end in mind. I painted for many years on what I had bought, without any thought of how I would put it in a frame to be seen. Check out standard frame sizes and reduce the image size within 2 inch borders by 50% and you have your image area.

Decide Your Image’s Orientation, Next. You can be a little inventive with a rectangular shape. I cut a viewfinder out of black mat board to the 50% size. I can adjust orientation easily -Portrait is vertical and Landscape is horizontal.

Love Your Scene. Whether you are painting for yourself or for someone else, you have to love the subject you have chosen to paint. You will hit a low unmotivated point and likely not finish your piece if you are not honest with yourself.

Go For Impact. Once you have tackled size, orientation, and your scene, consider what part of the subject has the most impact. Study your favorite artist’s work. Look at their use of values, colors, and overall composition. Figure out why it works and apply the principles to your work.

Take Lots Of Photos. There is no rule that says you have to faithfully paint every photo intended for painting. Rather, know your subject intimately. Taking photos from different angles and where the light hits it differently will often reveal new character in your common subject.

Draw…A Lot! No greater tool is at the watercolor painter’s disposal than the ability to draw the subject. Drawing one subject with frequency tends to lend an intimate knowledge to the painter. Pencil technique will influence brush technique.

Designing a painting is an important step in the creative process. Your intentions to delight yourself will lead to delighting your viewers. Be courageous and design your watercolor painting, today.


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