Learning from Other Artists
While I love art supplies and artist's resources (like how-to books and art magazines), I have not spent a lot of money on either in the last few years. Most of my ready cash goes to framing - the most expensive part of watercolor. I do purchase artist quality paint, brushes and paper when I need them, but brushes last for years, and paint almost as long if you are not using them moist from the tube.
The internet is a marvelous resource for artists looking for information, and I've found that I go there first when I'm researching a specific artist, technique or marketing idea, rather than to my collection of art books and magazines. There is no Google for my art library, after all! (A list of some of my favorite watercolor books can be found here.)
This year I did "splurge" and indulge in a subscription to my favorite watercolor magazine, American Artist's Watercolor magazine. The drawback to the publication is that it is only published quarterly, but I prefer it to Watercolor Magic which is published by The Artist's Magazine because of the in-depth manner of their artist interviews and profiles, with more images of each artist's work. I love that it almost always gives the materials used by the artist, and a good description of their technique.
I got my Fall 2008 issue last week and read it twice through in one day. While I found the Summer issue more useful and informative (my painting Inaugurating Spring and my Out to Pasture painting were both influenced by works of artists in that issue), I enjoyed this issue for the variety of methods used by the different artists. I love the look of some poured watercolors, though the technique is not for me (I hate masking and love brushwork), and I hadn't even considered painting on a medium like clayboard, like Ali Cavanaugh. I probably still won't ever try it, but it is freeing to realize that artists can be free to use their chosen medium in whatever manner they are most comfortable with. Personally, I want to hone my skill while liberating my hands and heart to paint intuitively.
In the article Becoming One with the Subject, artist Earl Lewis expressed why he loves watercolor, and it resonated with me:
"I love the buttery texture of the paint, and the paper - the way it stains - and the light filtering through that pigment, bouncing on that white paper and hitting back. I like the spring and drag of the brush. I love not knowing what's going to happen until it goes down, and the magical time of when to stop and back away. I love that speed of the brush, the immediacy, the danger involved with not having time to go back and fix something."
I wholeheartedly agree.