Thursday, July 16, 2009
A Harsh Mistress ...
No, not the old lady pictured in this post. Watercolors.
I have had the good fortune of working with or alongside some extremely talented artists. My friends Kennis (more on him soon) and Chew (my fellow Globsterpress partner in crime) are two of them. Not only do I get to work on comics with these guys, I'm also a fan of their work. Which brings me to ... Don Coker. Don Coker is an illustrator who has worked in the newspaper industry for a very long time. I used to study his watercolor illustrations in the pre-press area before they would be scanned in and edited for print (for anyone who doesn't know: I worked as graphic designer at our local newspaper for nine loooong hard years). He developed a style of painting that compensates for the unpredictability of newspaper printing. Instead of overlapping a lot of colors, he would bump complementary or contrasting colors against one another to create desired shades (I should note that when you print on newsprint, the last thing you want is to have a lot of different colors overlap. Newspaper ink bleeds into newsprint. The more ink you have to use, the nastier, uglier and muddier the printed image becomes). I'm naturally drawn to watercolor as medium, and I asked Don all the questions a novice would ask: "What kind of watercolors do you use? What kind of paper? Is that a sable brush? Yeah? What size? Who do you look up to? Wow ... how long did it take you to do that? How'd you get so great? What's your sign?" You get the point. And he answered them all. So I went out to the local art store and found all of the stuff he was talking about. And did I buy any of it? Nah, too expensive. Instead of buying a sheet of coldpress watercolor paper, I bought a really cheap sketchbook with paper that buckles when water hits it. And really cheap paints that are more acrylic than water, and brushes that won't hold any paint. And so, I try to make little watercolors with really bad materials. Sometimes they come out. Most often they do not. Don Coker's work continues to inspire me (he even traded me one his paintings for one of my drawings). And so I muddle on. Through muddy, murky colored waters, hoping that one day, I will be able to paint ... and be proud of the result. I've got a long way to go.
What does this have to do with these two attached paintings? This is me trying to understand watercolors. Two little experiments for a children's book I promised my wife I would write ... and paint. One day soon.
Check out Don Coker's blog: www.doncokerart.com/blog
- Jeff Tuffenstuff