Puna coast, Big Island of Hawaii
Video of my watercolor painting process.
This is a painting I did in phases, looking out at the cliffs and ironwood trees along the Puna coast on the Big Island of Hawaii. The breeze, the moisture in the air and sound of the crashing surf are all part of the experience of painting outside, directly from the nature.
When I paint, I focus on the larger shapes first, looking for a balance in composition. I use pencil to draw shapes for placement. Then I lay in broad areas of washes to place the elements of water, sky and cliffs. I think about where the lightest areas of the painting will be and leave the white of the paper in those areas.
As I continue I think about the branches of the tree and the needle like leaves of the Ironwood tree. I ask myself how I will depict those details best and capture the way those leaves grow? Like an oil painting I work from the general to specific, adding details as I go. The hardest part for me is always knowing when to stop. Because it’s impossible to undo a brushmark or go over it like one does in oil, it’s very easy to overwork a watercolor.
My goal is to say just enough so that the viewer can participate by filling in what is undefined from their own experience. The spirit of the medium is water. The unpredictable blending of colors, brush marks and overlapping shapes are the elements that make a successful watercolor.