Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Watercolor Journaling - How to Get Started

Watercolor journal and supplies

The trend today is toward journaling of all kinds - from daily diary type journals to trip journals and everything in between.  This post is intended to give some basic tips on how to get started with a watercolor journal.

Watercolor journaling is simply a way to put down thoughts and locations via the media of watercolor.  It takes some drawing skills and a basic knowledge of watercolor painting.  But, it does not need to be a scary task.  A way to transition into watercolor journaling is by first starting with a daily sketchbook and then moving into adding watercolors.  The more one sketches, the better one gets at recording what is seen.  So, if you have never considered a daily sketch book before, you may want to do so now.

Materials needed:
  • Pencil (mechanical or drawing pencil with sharpener)
  • Eraser
  • Watercolor journal (I use one with 140 weight watercolor paper)
  • Watercolor brush ( used a portable travel brush specifically for painting on location)
  • Portable watercolor set (I use a Windsor Newton set which opens to a palette)
  • Small water container (I use bottled water and use the cap for the brush)
Where do I start?
As you can see from the photo above, I like to watercolor journal in specific locations rather than simply doing a daily sketch/watercolor journal.

The secret to any journaling is to get down the basic shapes with not a lot of detail.  This is not intended to be a detailed watercolor painting, but simply your impression of the location. 

Steps involved:
  • Start off with a pencil sketch.  Don't make this sketch detailed.  You are telling the story of the moment and recording it with your own artistic impression. 
  • I try to box off a section of my watercolor journal rather than paint to the edge.  So, I drawn a box about 1/4 to 1/2 inch in from the edge and keep my drawing within that area.  This will help keep the paper from buckling from the water.  (Refer to photo.)
  • Don't use a lot of water in your painting.  You will not be working the paint in the same way as one would in a wet watercolor.  Remember this is supposed to be a fun way to record a location or thing - not a watercolor masterpiece.
  • Approach your painting  in the same method as you would any watercolor painting - working from light to dark; i.e.  Laying in the sky first and moving forward.
  • Depending on your location, don't be surprised by people watching you work. 
Most important part of journaling:  let this be fun!  Don't put pressure on yourself to "achieve" - simply enjoy being and painting.  As you get accustomed to painting on location or journaling it will become easier and more natural.  As with all things - practice.

There are many books on the market specially addressing watercolor journaling.   One of these books may be helpful and give you additional tips and encouragement.  Also, browse through an art store either online or in person and look for specific journals, brushes, paint sets, etc. to make your journaling easier.

The most important part of journaling is enjoyment!  If journaling is not the way you like to paint, then  paint in the way and at the place and location that works for you.

Happy Painting!

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