Painting Interior Scenes in Watercolor – Inspiration from Bonnard

watercolor glazing technique on an interior scene with a cat

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In the Car with Bonnard

I’m still thinking about, and staring at Pierre Bonnard. (If you missed the previous posts on my current muse, you can read them here and here.)

I’m leaning into painting interior scenes in watercolor after looking at Bonnard’s untroubled vignettes from around the garden, and inside the bathroom and kitchen of his home. His colorful paintings pull me into them. (Subscribe to this blog.)

Building values with layers of glazed watercolor
Interior, Pierre Bonnard

Glad You’re Here, C’mon in!

Bonnard paints the people he loves , captured in intimate moments we strangers would never otherwise witness. It’s like an invitation to be adopted – to come in and sit down and pet the cat while sipping tea.

And then, Bonnard’s use of vibrant, layered color is like a Music Festival laid over all that contentment. Maybe it’s that contrast between domestic tranquility and fireworks colors that appeals to me so much. What do you think?

Laying the first sheer watercolors on the pencil drawing

Artist Resources and Tips

If conversation isn’t your strong suit, especially at an exhibit that includes your art, Austin Kleon has some conversation tips in the form of short responses you can add to your script before your next mixer. Read them here.

When someone criticizes me and telling them to go to hell isn’t prudent: “You may be right.” (This stolen from Jerry Saltz, who says, “It has a nice double edge that the person often never feels and that gives pleasure.”)

Austin Kleon

Writing for The Blue Review, Trek Lexington compiled a list of Nineteen Artists You Need to Know in 2019, and it includes some of my favorite contemporary painters. You can see the list here.

Do you know the artist Emily Jeffords? Her wind-swept cloudscapes with suggestions of distant adventure on the horizon are very peaceful to look at. Here is an intro video, and here is a 12-week course she’s offering that sounds very interesting for artists who want to lift their business to the next level.

Drawing on a lap desk on the couch, with cherry ice cream and cookies. #livinglarge

Rev Your Art Engines

The chilly evenings have been perfect for lighting the fireplace and camping on the couch with music and artwork in process. (Scout the Studio Cat considers these evenings Date-Nights.)

My wintery productivity is typical while preparing for two back-to-back art festivals in the Spring – The San Diego Artwalk, and the Sierra Madre Art Fair. (If you’re nearby, I hope you’ll come visit.)

Speaking of productivity, did you see this essay by Kelton Reid on Productivity vs Creativity? Are you in the groove, making time for art this season? Leave a link to your latest work in the comments.

Thanks for stopping in, and I’ll see you in the next post,


P.S. Are you interested in a post about my favorite watercolor paint brushes?

P.P.S. If you or someone you know would benefit from a works-every-time system to title your artwork, here is a link to my course, with a discount code: How to Title Your Art

Reading Chair Summons 9.5×12.5 Watercolor and Graphite over paper (available in my Etsy Shop)
Scout the Studio Cat thinks art on the couch in the evenings is Date Night

Art Quote

It pays to look at opportunity with a telescope. It’s real, but it’s distant. The telescope brings it into focus and helps you find your way there. Telescopes are easy to find if you look for them. And it often pays to look at trouble with a microscope. Not to get intimidated by the amorphous blob that could snuff out your dreams, but instead to look at the tiny component parts, learning how it is constructed and taking away its power. Once you realize how it’s built, you can deal with it.

Seth Godin

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18 thoughts on “Painting Interior Scenes in Watercolor – Inspiration from Bonnard”

  1. Thanks so much for all the wonderful instruction, guidance and inspiration you share Belinda! My studio was gathering dust for lack of time… I now have my art supplies on a table in my living room and am trying hard to make the time to do what I love most. Whether it is 15 min or a few hours taken when I can, you have reminded me how important it is. Look so forward to your posts and seeing your beautiful pieces.

    1. Hello Ina, I’m *so* glad these posts resonate with you. And gladder still that you’ve pulled your art supplies closer for micro sessions. I hope your creative cylinders fire more frequently and the results encourage you to keep going. Thank you for your compliments, and come back again if you need words of encouragement, because we’ve All Been There.

  2. I have always loved your work and his from first contact onward. Now I see the many connections —subject matter, color, flow and love of life and art! Thank you for this blog series on Bonnard.
    I want to post a couple of my paintings (acrylic) inspired by Bonnard, but not sure I technologically am able to do so. Recently took an acrylic class dedicated to exploring Bonnard as well as Derain.

    1. Hi Angela! Thanks for your compliments. Have you taken good photos of your paintings, or scanned them? That would be the first step to share them… Your acrylic class sounds wonderful, and I bet a survey of the work done in the class while studying Bonnard and Derain was an awe-inspiring stretch towards color used in new ways!

  3. Interesting that Trek’s list contained highly rendered, realistic painters, at I time when I am moving from that to a looser expression. I wonder if it relates public interest that is tired of not understanding contemporary expressionism???

    1. Hi Sharon, I don’t think it indicates anything beyond the certainty that the author loves realistic paintings. Trends aside, I believe authors, like painters, are always hungry for topics that resonate. Wordsmiths and Painters: we pull from our own experiences, tastes and longings. Each essay is a glimpse into the writer’s heart. And with that, I bet *you* could write a compelling post on 19 expressionist painters we should all know. 🙂

    1. Thanks for your encouragement, Catherine. I love quiet, common scenes too. I’m sure they’re boring to some, but they feel very intimate and calming to me. Like the sort of time I want more of. Know what I mean? Thanks for the compliments. 🙂

  4. Judy Langhoff

    Would love to know about your favorite watercolor brushes…there wasn’t a link I could see in this last post.

    1. Hi Judy,
      I haven’t written a post about the brushes yet… I was asking to gage interest, so there is no link. I will write about it though. Enough replies via email asking for it, so I’ll get on that soon. 🙂

  5. Ann Nightingale

    Love your watercolour over graphite paintings, Belinda. Your interiors look so inviting. Love all your work.

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