Monday, September 8, 2008


I’ve been struggling with watercolour today. I don’t know if I’ll ever get anywhere with this medium – I’m so heavy handed!!! It’s so much easier in fabric where if you get the wrong colour you can just take that particular piece of fabric away and try another one. But it’s amazing how much you can learn working in a different medium. Watercolour is a lot faster than fabric – that means you can make mistakes faster but it also means you can try out ideas quickly too.

Value is everything – you really have to know which value is going where and the lights have to make an interesting pattern in themselves, as do the darks. Otherwise it looks really dotty!! As do I when I tear out my hair in frustration! With watercolour there are two schools of thought – one says paint (or reserve) all the light values first, but a few people believe in getting the darks in initially and then balancing out the lights. Thinking about where each is going to go, planning it and then executing it is the key.

The other thing that you come to realize is the importance of limiting the colours. Having too many colours looks wrong with fabric, but it looks really Awful with watercolour – and the wrong colours together? Instant mud! (or worse…..)

With both mediums also I think it helps to start with the background and work forward – that is if you’re creating a sense of space and depth – which is another decision to be made early on in both.

Very occasionally I’ll do a watercolour of a piece before I make it – usually when it’s a commission, but generally I like different subjects – more landscapes with the paint, more houses with the fabric. Here are a couple of sketches I did for a pair of quilts for a church in Atlanta – they chose the red ones!

And with both watercolour and textiles there is going to be a lot of waste! The best watercolourists talk about practice practice and acres of paper…the same holds true with quilts – practice practice…then at least we can recycle or overdye that fabric!!

Nobody yet has asked me the way to Carnegie Hall......... A friend of mine was once asked and said she was very tempted to give the response we all know:

Practice practice practice!!!

And if you have been, thanks for reading!


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