The Amethyst Deceiver

In my last post I wrote of the pleasure I get using one of my materials: charcoal. In this post it's the turn of watercolour.

sketch - watercolour 'The Amethyst Deceiver' - a guided study


For 30 years, maybe more, I hated using watercolour. It was thin, uncontrollable or at best temperamental, dried dull and spoke to me of small, dithery paintings of twee landscapes, pretty scenes and flowers. I associated it with quiet, hushed libraries and vaguely dusty old ladies with unpleasant ideas of what was right and proper. It came in little tubes and used little brushes and everything about it was small.


I have not taken to painting large with it (yet) but I have completely abandoned my prejudices of how I might use it. I still see examples of all I dislike about it, but I forgive it for I have found a way to let it do what it wants.Well when I say 'a way' in fact I have found nothing other than decided not to be bothered about what it does do. Rather I embrace it and what I used to see as flaws are now its liberating, exciting strengths.


Is that praise for watercolour too effusive? My apololgies, but I am a super fan.


Watercolour does do its own thing, but I have found that if you let it, in fact if you encourage it, amazing results happen. Water goes where it wills, not where you want it. You might guide and suggest but it will pool, flow, run and settle, dissolve and evaporate wherever it wills. For me this creates opportunities - and most of all the opportunity to be surprised.


It is as easy to draw with it as it is to create pools of colour. These colours bleed, run, merge or hod their line, creating visual interest and variety. They respect white space but also hold it in contempt.

They create their own tonal and colour variation. No real effort required from you. Place them together, they will merge. Drop one on top of another. Dab. Stroke. Tease. Every mark and every drop gives a slightly different effect, but all within a unified whole. What more could an abstract painter want.


Watercolour is a gift that keeps on giving....and of course I get to use paper every time, which is a gift in itself.

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