Project: Watercolor Play

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During college, I bought waaaaaaaaay too many art supplies. I spent countless hours (and dollars) in the art supply store selecting interesting papers, colorful felt-tip pens, all sizes of t-squares, and eight different kinds of erasers. Some of these things were for projects, but many were just impulse buys. On one of these shopping sprees, I apparently acquired tubes of watercolors, cold press paper, and frisket. Today I decided to finally try out these basically untouched watercolor supplies.

Watercolor has always intimidated me a bit. Unlike oil paint, you can’t keep adding until you are satisfied. There is no erasing, and for an inexperienced hand like mine, it is difficult to control and has unpredictable results. You can, however, keep some areas white and paint-free using frisket.

If you are unfamiliar with frisket, it comes as a film or a thick white liquid you apply to the paper. After painting the paper with watercolor, wait for it to dry and remove the frisket. The area underneath retains the white of the page. Frisket peels off like rubber cement, and wow, does it smell terrible when applied. I probably should have opened a window.

I glanced at some watercolor tutorials online and then gave it a go, and I was pleasantly surprised by some of the effects I achieved. I liked the contrast of using a free-flowing medium with my controlled, repetitive mark-making, and I liked how the tones and colors mixed and layered.
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Sometimes the vast emptiness of the page and the pressure to create finished, frame-worthy art scare me away from making anything. Using an unfamiliar medium helped me overcome those excuses and just play, and I now have some good ideas I might apply to future work. I’m thinking watercolor could be the start of a fun 2013 desktop calendar or maybe some Spoonflower fabric.

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Have you tried a new hobby, medium, or technique recently? Have you seen any gorgeous or unexpected applications of watercolor?

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