Painting with a Magical Medium

Think Like a Watercolor Painting

Astor Place by Emily Falco, watercolor painting, 14 1/2 x 14 1/2, 2009.
Astor Place by Emily Falco, watercolor painting,
14 1/2 x 14 1/2, 2009.

It warms my heart when I hear artists expressing excitement about their chosen painting medium because artists are the ones in the business of knowing all the ins and outs of their materials, whether it is watercolor painting, acrylic, or oil–among others. For them to articulate such positive responses about their paints, pencils, and brushes validates the artistic process and stirs an equal amount of enthusiasm in me.

Emily Falco works in watercolor, and according to her, she “thinks” in it as well. “It’s a magical medium-the paints can dry out but be used again; the light is contained in the paper; and the colors blend and separate in the most unique and surprising ways,” she says.

Q Train by Emily Falco, watercolor painting, 9 x 12 1/4, 2009.
Q Train by Emily Falco, watercolor painting,
9 x 12 1/4, 2009.

Falco’s success in working with watercolor is all about embracing the washes she can achieve and their corresponding drips and fluidity. For her, this started with large-scale acrylic paintings though she eventually transitioned to watercolor art to save space. “I was drawn to the idea that I could keep many paintings in a portfolio—which takes up the same amount of space as one canvas,” she says.

So that she never misses a scene that inspires, Falco always travels with a camera. “I often combine elements from different photographs in a single painting,” she says, though she also savors the opportunity to paint en plein air as well. And she has learned to go with her gut—if something catches her eye and moves her, Falco acts on it with her work—but she never tries to force or speed up the process. “I’ll walk away for a few minutes,” she says. “I like every painting to happen in its own time.”

To explore watercolor painting in many great ways–with a trusted instructor, through contemporary practitioners who are borderline amazing (or just plain amazing!), or with different subject matters like animal paintings or cityscapes–check out the numerous water-based painting resources in the North Light Shop’s Best Products of 2016. Select your favorite from this top ten list and get 16% off in celebration of this past year. You are sure to find the techniques and tips that will allow you to get all you can out of this wonderful, magical medium. Enjoy!

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Courtney Jordan

About Courtney Jordan

  Courtney is the editor of Artist Daily. For her, art is one of life’s essentials and a career mainstay. She’s pursued academic studies of the Old Masters of Spain and Italy as well as museum curatorial experience, writing and reporting on arts and culture as a magazine staffer, and acquiring and editing architecture and cultural history books. She hopes to recommit herself to more studio time, too, working in mixed media.   

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