I have a question about the paper you use. Do you paint while the paper is still attached to the block? I bought one and thought that the other papers beneath would get ruined by the water.
Yes, definitely. It being attached to the block is what prevents the paper from warping. Just leave it on until the piece is dry, and then remove it. Watercolor paper is fairly thick, so it shouldn’t bleed through to the sheet below. However, if you are doing a very wet technique, the paper underneath might get a little damp. It will return to normal when it dries.
I guess there’s a chance that a really cheap block could get ruined, but even with cheaper paper I haven’t had a problem. I think Canson is the cheapest one I buy.
what kind of supplies do you recommend for a beginner in water colors?
Prang watercolors are great because you find them practically anywhere, they’re affordable, and for tray watercolors are very good quality (moist, not chalky). For brushes, I’d say start with a large, medium, and small round brush. For paper, find an affordable watercolor block. The paper is adhered on all four sides to prevent warping. When you feel it’s worth it, you can upgrade to pricier paper (like Arches). Those are what I consider the basics. You don’t even need a plastic palette at first because you could mix your colors in the lid of the Prang paint tray!
Here’s a post I did detailing the materials that I use the most. Hope this helps!
Hi Gabby! Your work is absolutely stunning. I'm majorly in love with watercolours! Am I correct in saying you're self taught? That's really cool. I'm just starting out on my own self taught journey and I am a little lost. I draw a lot, but I lack the structure an education would give me. I was wondering if you had any tips on the best way to go about it?
Hello! Thank you! I am self-taught. Here are my tips (that I don’t even always follow but you know):
Without the structure of a formal education you have to create your own structure in a few ways. The first is making time to practice. When I was a teacher, I would make time in the evenings after grading papers and planning to draw, or on Friday, my day off, I would spend a lot of time drawing. Turn down social invitations sometimes to practice. I did!
By practice I mean make mistakes, drop paint onto wet paper just to see what happens, make something out of it… Do whatever you can think of that will help you understand how watercolor behaves under different circumstances. Practicing could also mean giving yourself “assignments”, like, I don’t know, draw five trees and paint them, or make three watercolor blobs and then draw something on top of them, or make something using only two colors. Setting boundaries helps creativity to flourish.
You also have to do your own research for tips on technique and such. There are tons of watercolor tutorials on the internet, for example. And books in your local library. (I am such a dork and definitely checked out books about drawing and watercoloring from the public library when I was younger.)
Copy other artists. I know this sounds crazy, but what I mean is copy artwork that you love (my favorite artist to copy was Kay Nielsen) and then KEEP IT TO YOURSELF. That stuff isn’t really meant to be shared. What happens is that you end up absorbing certain elements and then over time they transform into something that’s yours. You also figure out new techniques that might not be what the original artist did but are still cool so it doesn’t matter.
That’s really it. It’s up to you to fill in the blanks. Also you should know I am kind of old and have been “teaching myself” for what suddenly has become several years. Going to art school probably would’ve sped up the process a lot, but that’s not the path my life took, and that’s ok. What I’m saying is if you really love art and drawing and all that, keep at it. Nothing happens overnight.
Hello! You are so talented and you have been inspiring me to create more art daily for a while now. I have been meaning to ask, but haven't gotten around to it -_-, what camera do you use to photograph your art process? Those photos with your pretty jellyfish are so detailed and I've been trying to find the best way to document my art process without having to scan it all at a store. Thanks for your time! Keep creating and inspiring!
Hey, thanks! Also your question makes me laugh because I use the least special method of documenting my work. That jellyfish photo that you like that appears so detailed (this one? or this one?) was just taken with my phone, which is a Moto X:
Most of the photos in my archive and all the photos in my shop were taken with this 5-year-old digital point and shoot Casio Exilim (8.1 megapixels, lol):
So, two fairly low quality, old, etc. gadgets. I pretty much always take pictures when there’s lots of natural light available—very important!—and on the little camera I use the macro setting a lot. Maybe I should’ve asked Santa for a legit camera this year…
Hello there! I absolutely love your art. You have an incredible talent of working with watercolours and ink! I admire your work, your illustrations and ideas inspire me. uwu If I may ask, how do you go about with thinking up ideas for your art?
I don’t know how to answer this question. I guess I think up ideas like anyone thinks up ideas. Usually they just come to you, but they are influenced by the things you digest during the day—what you read, watch, listen to, dwell upon. I’ve looked at lots of children’s and fantasy illustration in my life until this point, the input of which has surely influenced my output! Also, my ideas are often dictated by the materials I use in my drawings. Watercolor by its very nature suggests certain images, something ethereal and indefinite.
I don’t know if this makes sense, but it’s the best I can do!
Where do you fellow artists get zines or booklets printed of your art? I’d like to make a little art booklet next year, but something tells me that using my home printer is not the most cost-effective method. Ideas?