Painting More Than You Can See

11”x14” watercolor on paper

There is the visual part of art, the trying to reproduce what you see out there in the world. It is also good to add the emotional part of the painting. You’re trying to paint two dogs by looking at the shapes, the angles, and where the lines intersect other lines. But you are also trying to capture something more. What else are you trying to say with your painting. What are the personalities of the two dogs? Are you capturing the nature of the dogs by capturing how the tongues lop out of the mouths? If you trace a photo, you get a stiff representation of whats in the photo. You want to bring the dogs to life. You want your painting to look better than the photo, more alive, more color.

Concentrating on shapes can help. Instead of thinking eyeball and drawing what your left brain uses to symbolize eyeball, you look at the shape. Your left brain might say to yourself, “Hey Self you don’t want a hair covering up part of that eyeball. You want to show all of the eyeball.” When having the hair cover part of the eyeball says something about the nature of dogs. “Hey Self, you need to show both eyes and make sure they look the same.” When you really want to show the unique shape of each eye and maybe you want one eye to completely disappear. ”Hey Self, those dogs have a lot of nice fur. They are furry. You need to make sure you draw each individual hair.” When your artist brain is saying, drawing every single fence post and every hair is boring. Draw the shape of the fur and describe the nature of the fur where it meets other shapes along its edges. Can you say something about the nature of the dog with an angle on it’s eyebrow? Can I draw a chain without drawing every single ring the exact same way? Shape upon shape and color upon color and suddenly you look down and you have a painting that excites you.

About Sherry Meidell

Sherry Meidell is a signature member of the National Watercolor Society Western Federation Watercolor Society and the Utah Watercolor Society. She loves to paint with watercolor whether she is painting pictures or illustrating children's picture books. She is a member of SCBWI. Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators.
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