Postcards from Croatia and Some Reflections on a Watercolor Setup

 

I am happy to share with you that, since my last blog post, Marc, Emma (the dog) and I have successfully moved and settled in our beautiful new home in Florence. We absolutely love it and feel so blessed that we have found such a perfect spot to embark on our future projects.

Yet, just as we finished unpacking and started to relax a bit, we were Croatia-bound once again. This time for a very exciting reason, my best friend’s wedding. The ceremony took place in the ancient town of Zadar and was absolutely wonderful.

After an intense month of packing and unpacking, being on the coast and sinking into the easygoing Dalmatian vibe was a real treat, so we decided to extend our stay in Zadar to a full week.

I frankly had no idea whether there would be any time available for painting on this trip, but decided to bring my equipment nonetheless. As it turns out, the pre and post-wedding activities were all very relaxed and spontaneously organised, so I managed to squeeze in a few painting sessions.

Interestingly, I had a bit of a stage fright, so to say, before I started my first painting. I am not sure if it was because I hadn’t painted regularly for the previous few weeks and was worried I wouldn’t be able to pick up where I left; or was it the fact that I was painting en plein air in my native country for the first time and was concerned about doing justice to its beauty; or both.

Either way, it all went smoothly once I got going and I was content with the overall experience – especially with the fact that I got back to painting after a few weeks long break.  

In fact, having done a couple of few hour long workshops this summer in Ireland at the Art in the Open plein air painting festival (which I highly recommend!), I noticed I felt more confident painting watercolours then before. As it turns out, watching my teachers, Claudia Araceli and Grahame Booth, paint taught me how to simplify more and apply washes better. 

I should mention in that regard that, thus far, I was totally self-taught in the watercolour medium. So, I found these teachers’ demos very helpful and felt like I experienced a sort of a breakthrough after taking their workshops.

This reminded me how beneficial it is just to watch someone else (who knows what they are doing) paint and how much one can learn through pure observation of a master at work.

Another thing I realised after these lessons is that my watercolour setup is less than ideal. Namely, so far, I had a sitting setup with a small foldable table next to me, where I would put my pallet and a water container, while my pad would sit on my knees. This is basically what it looks like:

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While it is quite comfortable, this setup is problematic on multiple levels. It provides me with a painting surface which is, first, not very stable and, second, not positioned at a proper angle. As I have learned, one should have their watercolour block (or a panel to which the paper is attached) tilted at a minimum 45 degree angle. This is in order to allow those preliminary rich washes to flow properly, and to be able to get rid of access water if necessary, by allowing it to drip down. 

Another problem I noticed with my current setup is that I often get much better views from a standing, rather then a sitting position. Namely, being up higher in many instances provides a more interesting perspective, and helps me avoid having various obstacles (such as fences, bushes and tall grass) block my view. In addition, since I scout for my views while walking around, it’s easier for me to determine what the view will amount to while standing, instead of sitting.

So, in the near future, I am hoping to figure out a better, lighter and taller setup, which would ideally work both for watercolours, as well as oil painting. I will keep you posted on how it goes. 

In the meantime, I leave you with a few of my paintings from the recent Croatian trip. I hope you enjoy.

 

Petar Zoranić Square. 9 x 10 in, Watercolor.

Petar Zoranić Square. 9 x 10 in, Watercolor.

 

Church of St. Donatus. 9 x 11 in, Watercolor.

Church of St. Donatus. 9 x 11 in, Watercolor.

 

St. Mary's Church. 8 x 9,5 in, Watercolor.

St. Mary’s Church. 8 x 9,5 in, Watercolor.

 

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