Small Figurative Watercolor Studies

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Small Figurative Watercolor Studies

I promised a segue from the gel plate monoprint marathon, so here we are, painting small (quick) figurative watercolor studies at the kitchen counter.

But there are more gel plate prints coming, so be warned… I’m adding colored pencil to them this week. It’s noteworthy – to me – that one process informs the other.

Playing with watercolor yesterday conjured thoughts I had about light-to-dark and dark-to-light color play with monoprints. All art-making methods are intertwined with overlapping lessons.

Small (4×6) pencil sketch and first washes of watercolor on a paper that is new to me – Arteza.
The second layer of watercolor washes, applied after the first layer dried (glazing).
This Arteza paper is bright white and has a nice bit of tooth, but it darkens significantly with just water applied. Watercolor is already darker when it’s wet, so that makes tonal adjustments more challenging (for me).
  • If you’re more inclined to paint little faces, rather than the entire figure, this post has some tips and tools for you.
  • While pondering the unique challenges of drawing and painting the human form, I shared some of the things I struggle with in this post about arranging compositions in Figurative Watercolors.
Sketched from a cozy spot on the couch last night with a cup of tea and a photo on my phone reminiscing about a weekend spent with friends on a lake in the sun.
Doodle sketch on lined paper with crayons, and a small watercolor study from the same reference photo
Little watercolor study in small format with the most basic tools while on a boat – from family photos snapped with a cell phone
Small watercolor of a fellow artist painting outdoors
Sketching from old family photos

Summertime Arting

Summertime in this part of the globe means more adventuring outdoors, more social time, and travel, which can bite into art-making. The projects I started over the past few weeks have been in small, episodic fits and starts, so my studio and tote bag are both stuffed with unfinished work. A lot of unfinished work.

I ardently prefer to finish each art project I start. Leaving things unfinished usually turns into months or years till I pick up that half-done painting or partially carved block. I usually swerve towards starting something new before tackling a partially started idea. I know this about myself, so I prefer to complete each project in one long creative pursuit. But that rarely works.

If I waited to find several open days to create something – with enough time and quiet to wrestle it all the way to finished, I’d rarely pick up a brush.

Wrapping my arms around barely-started art projects is a necessity for me in this life. People ask how I get so much done. I don’t. I work (very deliberately) in the small spaces tucked around dates and times on my weekly schedule. If life is tiled together, I’m making art in the grout lines around it.

All that to say, don’t wait for wide-open meadows of time to make your stuff. Squeeze your art in.

Draw at the kitchen counter during lunch. Sketch something on the couch after dinner. Paint a little watercolor from a scene through your window. If you don’t finish it in 18 months, so be it. You will have lassoed 30 minutes of arting for yourself, and that’s worth something.

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


P.S. Christine Nishiyama of Might Could Studios posted this thought-provoking essay about making time for art here.

Winding Down 6×4 Figurative Watercolor Study Available in my Etsy Shop

Art Quote

I have learned that what I have not drawn I have never really seen, and that when I start drawing an ordinary thing, I realize how extraordinary it is, sheer miracle.

Frederick Franck
art supply tote bag for spontaneous watercolor painting
Totebag of watercolor painting supplies: this allows painting time on the couch, at the kitchen table, in the back yard, in the car, at a friend’s house, or in a hotel room, etc.

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1 thought on “Small Figurative Watercolor Studies”

  1. Belinda,
    I really enjoyed this post. Thank you for sharing all this work with us. I am particularly drawn to your small watercolor of a fellow artist painting outdoors. I am forwarding this to a friend of mine who is also an accomplished artist whom I hope it will inspire to pick up her artist pallet and get painting again now that she’s retired.

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