Beginner’s mistakes 2
I continue to describe common mistakes that many beginners make, last time I described mistakes that are common with the material such as brushes, paper and paints. This time it is the problem that concerns the painting work itself.
Too little water
The beginner paints too dry. In “ordinary” watercolor painting, there is no upper limit for the amount of paint and water in the brush and on the paper. But the beginner is careful, paints with just a little paint in the brush, often paints until all the paint is finished in the brush before it is time for a new brush dip in the paint. It is totally wrong, if you do not strive for dry effects, you should use a lot of water and paint when painting watercolor.
Too little patience
I do not know how many times a student in my courses has ruined a nice flat wash by starting a new coat of paint before the first one is completely dry. The result is dirty colors on the paper, muddy and ugly. Unfortunately, this is a common mistake, if you have so little patience that you can not wait for the paint to dry, use a device to speed up the drying time. Even a hair dryer is better than ruining an otherwise fine watercolor.
This mistake is related to the previous one, when a paint layer is almost dry but not completely, a blooming (or backrun) occurs if you were to add more paint or water on or next to this paint surface. Backruns can have their place in watercolor, but perhaps not when they are unwanted in a smooth color surface. If you just let the paint dry completely before painting further, you will avoid this.
Where is the rinsing water?
Where to place your cup of rinsing water is not insignificant. For some reason, unknown to me, it is common for the beginner to have the colors and water on different sides of the watercolor paper. The most common movement you make as a watercolor painter is between the water tank and the paints, to have them on different sides of the paper is to ask for problems. Then you will spill and drip water on the paper. Why many do so I do not understand, of course water and colors should be on the same side of the paper, if you are right-handed it is easiest with them on the right side of the paper, if you are left-handed it is the other way around. Definitely not on different sides.
No dark colors
If you have seen a typical amateur watercolor, you know that what distinguishes them are pale and watered down colors. Almost all beginners use small half pans that are difficult to take color from, this may be one of the explanations why the painting turns pale. Another may be that all watercolor paints lose value when they dry, what looks dark as freshly painted becomes much lighter when it has dried. Whatever the reason, light and low-contrast paintings are a common problem for beginners. With more experience also comes a little darker and fuller colors.
Trying to emulate reality
The desire to use the same colors as you see in the motif is strong. But it is not certain that the color of the green tree is correct for the colors of the painting in general. I usually decide which colors the students may use in a particular painting, e.g. ultramarine. Burnt and unburned sienna, if there is something green in the motif (which can not be mixed with these colors) it happens that the beginner still uses a green color. The green color will stand out and look unnatural in the rest of the color of the painting. My advice is to care about how the colors work in the painting, pay less attention if they correspond to reality.
It is not uncommon for a beginner to use phthalo green to paint landscapes. Why not, the color is green, and all greens are the same, right? A yellow-brown brick house turns bright yellow, an olive tree turns emerald green and so on, to mix a color that is beautiful for painting, an ability the beginner usually lacks, comes with time.
Trying to repair mistakes
The beginner has not yet accepted that mistakes can not be fixed. Watercolor is an unforgiving painting technique. Changing things afterwards or repairing mistakes is not possible, if the mistake happens at the beginning of the painting: start again on a new piece of paper, if it happens at the end of the painting work: sad, but discard the painting. This is perhaps a bit strict, it is probably possible to fix minor mistakes through washing, overpainting or in another way. But in general it can be said that mistakes are created to stay. Even though the beginner is constantly trying to repair them.
It is quite common for a watercolor, which at an earlier stage was fine, to turn into a dull mud when it is finished. Constant overpainting, fixing details and attempts at corrections destroy many paintings. The once fresh and spontaneous watercolor gradually becomes more and more overworked with dirty colors and exaggerated details as a result. The desire to improve is striking for many beginners, leaving something good untouched is difficult. Usually one coat of paint is sufficient, two can work and three coats of paint only as an exception. But never five, six or even more layers of color on top of each other, the result is compact with dull and muddy colors.