Watercolor Pages for Raw Art Journaling

OK, I’ve said I’m a minimalist when it comes to raw art journaling. Nothing’s changed. I like using watercolor pencils and washes with writing. I’ve always done the ink work first, then added the watercolor. I’ve never been adept at watercolor, so today I took a class with Alice Van Overstraeten at Jerry’s Artarama in Tempe, AZ.

Grapes with silver highlights. © Quinn McDonald, 2010. All rights reserved.

Alice is relaxed and easy. In fact, her class was called “Free and Easy.” She may be the non-fussiest art instructor I’ve ever taken a class with. Her demo was amazing. In order to allow all the students to see her work, she held a piece of artboard in front of her and drew so we could see the work–she was working upside down from her point of view. She used a pencil to sketch in circles where the flowers would be. The circles were no more than placeholders. They were not recognizable flowers.

Using a mop brush, Alice picked up several shades of color on the one brush and pressed the brush onto the paper, pulling it in one direction. She repeated this process. She then loaded the brush with greens and browns and drew in lines. Notice I didn’t say stems. So far, the artboard looked like it had red round shapes and green long shapes. The next part was amazing. Using a Pitt pen, Alice drew in lines that created poppies, stems and leaves.

The demo was encouraging. If Alice could do it upside down, I could probably handle it with a piece of paper in front of me. I had varying amounts of success. The less I planned or forced, the better it looked. The harder I tried for realism, the less real the flowers looked.

Orange flowers with gold edging. © Quinn McDonald, 2010 All rights reserved.

Time flew and I tried a variety of subjects–various flowers, grapes, and another version of radish bird. (Radish bird is a recurring figure in my journals and in my book, Raw Art Journaling.)

What I love about watercolor is that you can write over it. Unlike acrylics, which create surface texture that may be impossible to write on unless you use a big marker, watercolor works well with pen and ink. I love the ease of the washes today. Am I now an expert? No, of course not. But I like the results, and in my journal, I don’t have to be perfect.

–Quinn McDonald uses her talents and her own handwriting to create raw art journaling. Her book will be out a year from now, in June of 2011.

Poppies, © Quinn McDonald, 2010 All rights reserved.