Recently I began to look at a painting again that I had thought was finished. I liked the painting but felt that something was missing. It needed a little extra, it needed a little more strength to it. I once heard a joke where a man passed a classroom that was painting in watercolour and as he passed by the door he jokingly yelled “More darks” and ironically he covered every student’s struggle with one phrase!
In learning to paint in watercolour you often hear the traditional rule that it needs to be “all watercolour” right down to the signature in order to qualify as a true watercolour. I have wondered when and where this rule started because one of the most famous watercolourists who ever lived, J.M.W. Turner was widely known to use white gouache in many of his paintings. And I’m sure there are many other watercolour masters like him who have added other media too.
Not too long ago I took an online course with artist Johannes Vloothuis and one of the other students posed the question of what you can and can’t add when painting a watercolour. I loved Johannes’ response when he said “I believe you should use whatever is necessary in order to bring your painting to completion.” What a sense of freedom that idea was for me!
With that idea in mind I took one look at my painting and decided to add some Inktense pencils made by Derwent. As the name suggests they are water soluble ink and they are very intense! I love a punch of colour and found using these pencils here and there was exactly what the painting needed. I am in no way affliated with Derwent but I just love this product! I have even seen entire paintings done with the Inktense pencils in combination with their Artbars, which would be fun to incorporate as well.
With this new sense of freedom, I’m looking forward to experimenting with whatever I feel the painting needs at the time “to bring it to completion”. Maybe using coffee grounds in my next painting would be interesting…….
What do you think about the pure watercolour debate? What have you used to give your paintings a little something extra?