Watercolor is hard


Through the Palms by Mark Lague

Watercolor is hard, y'all. 

It's hard to do. And it's hard to sell. Why? Because when people think of watercolor, they usually think of some sweet old "grandma" painting two little children on the beach. Or sea shells. Or anything beach/sand/parent & child. I know because I do it too.

Side note: If you have a piece of work that IS of a beach or sea shells or children, please don't take it down! You need to have artwork in your home that you love and connect with and if that is a watercolor of a beach, by all means PLEASE keep it on your wall. This post is exploring the other types of watercolor out there. However, I never want to discourage people from displaying artwork that has meaning and significance to them. That's very important for making your home feel like "you". 

I'm going to try to de-bunk these ideas. There are a lot of ways to use watercolor and there are a LOT of watercolors out there that are not of a beach. Or children playing there. 

I'll start from the artist's dilemna. 

Blume by Elke Memmler

In order to be able to create something in watercolor, you have to have patience. Unlike painting, you are dependent on a liquid medium (water) to control the saturation of the color and how it operates. Many watercolorists use tape or other ways to control the water, because it doesn't like to behave and will blur lines that you want to be crisp. 

When I do watercolor, I really want the "expressiveness" of the watermarks to be the coolest part. I like how in this piece, by Elke Memmler, the top part of the flowers are implied by layers of colored watermarks. Nothing is really defined, but you still get the idea. 

But don't let this piece fool you- this took a lot of time working with watercolor to be able to understand how the water was going to act. And from someone who hasn't spent NEARLY as many hours as others, I can tell you it isn't easy.

So why do it?

Because it's exciting! You don't always know what the water is going to do and the marks that it makes are REALLY COOL. The look is usually really different from what you can do with paint and depending on the look you want, sometimes watercolor is the only way to get it. It's worth all the work and patience to learn it. 

Now, for the non-artist who isn't interested in buying watercolor because it sounds "dated" compared to the cool "oil on canvas abstractions".

By Lorna Holdcroft

There is so much GOOD watercolor out there! And it's really just as amazing as paintings or photography. 

"Sure", you might say.

"But where would it go in my house? Does it look good with what I have? Won't it look 'weird' with my mid-century modern meets traditional rustic look?"

Let me tell you- the answer is YES. 

Photo courtesy of Joanna

This room is a simple example, but it shows that watercolor can be used just like any other piece. Depending on the subject and the colors, it can go anywhere.

There are a few companies out there that are actually making watercolor into decals or wallpaper too. My favorite company I have found is Black Crow Studios. Below are a couple of images from some designers that have used their product.

Photo courtesy of Robert Passal

Photo courtesy of Tobi Farley and Assoc.

So whenever you hear "watercolorist" or see that a gallery has "watercolor", don't automatically assume it's going to be something that looks dated. Watercolor is a trend that is on the rise in interiors and I think that it is headed towards a trend on the art scene as well.

Here's to many more artists struggling to make good watercolor and to more people putting it in their homes!