He Told Me I Could Share His Secrets

20 Apr 2014
Miguel Dominguez watercolor painting, Nesting Egrets
Nesting Egrets by Miguel Dominguez,
watercolor painting, 18 1/2 x 23 1/2.

Looking at paintings can be like unraveling a mystery, especially with watercolor. Layers are so delicate and there are many interesting watercolor painting techniques that are quite subtle to the eye. That's certainly what I felt when I looked at the work of watercolor artist Miguel Dominguez. I couldn't quite figure out everything that was happening in his paintings. I had questions about his painting process and about the artist himself. And so I asked him!

Artist Daily: How did you become a painter?

Miguel Dominguez: I decided to become a full-time artist in 1971 when my artwork, nascent as it was, began to sell in two galleries. I was 29 years old, married and with a child on the way. With the optimism of a young person, I left the security of my job as a cartographer and took the leap of faith.

AD: What is your favorite painting?

MD: My favorite painting is practically any watercolor painting by J.M. William Turner.

AD: If you weren't an artist, what would you be?

MD: If not an artist, I would prefer to be in the field of archeology or perhaps, paleontology; excavating through layers of rock strata and discovering multi-million year old fossils.

AD: What technique(s) do you use the most in your watercolor art?

MD: My technique is described as dry brush. The surface of the painting is dry and the ratio of water to pigment on the brush is small and carefully measured; only a minimum number of brushstrokes/applications are possible at a time. This technique is suitable to my methodical approach to painting.

Miguel Dominguez watercolor painting, Fall Display
Fall Display by Miguel Dominguez,
watercolor painting, 20 1/2 x 25 1/2.
AD: Are there any watercolor painting materials you find particularly helpful to use?

MD: Most of my watercolors are done on 140 lb. arches, hot press, acid-free, 100% cotton fiber sheets. Although thin, they are durable and withstand repeated washes, and at times, harsh brushstrokes. Winsor & Newton is my choice of watercolors and I use any brush that gives me the effect I am trying to convey; often the more worn the brush, the more I like it.

AD: Can you tell me how your painting process progresses?

MD: I start a painting by first carefully fixing the composition, and then mentally working through the painting prior to any kind of actual brush application. I then select the brushes appropriate for the painting, squeeze my selected pigments onto the palette, put clean water in my container and make sure other necessary items are nearby. Once the above steps have been taken, I put down the first light washes followed by light to dark values, working from top to bottom while giving definition to the scene. The final step is to work in the details which clarify the painting.

I came away from my communications with Miguel feeling like I could look at his paintings and really understand what is going on in them. Plus, the watercolor painting instruction he shared really put me at ease with this deceptively "easy" painting medium. It's the kind of instruction and sharing that we can all find in the new book, Painting Nature in Watercolor. If you are looking for this kind of open, honest, and interesting instruction, I'd say your next step is to consider getting a copy for your studio. Enjoy!


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