When Ideas Are Brewing

When ideas are brewing in my head, it often takes awhile for them to emerge as finished paintings. I often play with those ideas in my sketchbook at night, or in a small format on loose pieces of paper. I had some color ideas I wanted to explore last night, so I pulled out my little half-pan watercolor travel setup for these, and used squirrel mop and sable brushes.

I usually keep a few pieces of good rag watercolor paper taped to boards and some are subdivided for sketches like this. Setting up a sheet this way is something I got from a workshop I took with the amazing David Taylor. He always advised doing these small thumbnail sketches on the side of the page in a small taped-off section. That way you can test drive your ideas (a few times if necessary) before taking them to a larger version. It speeds the process along, and you can immediately apply what you learn to the next one. I was torn between working in my sketchbook and working on the rag paper. (I love the way a hardbound sketchbook keeps all my ideas from wandering away!) But in this case, I needed to see how the colors would blend on rag paper. 

Technically, I'm not too pleased with these. However, I am happy with the way the colors are working, and I think with some more practice I'll be able to get what I'm after. Then I'll scale them up and start exploring the idea with assorted materials and techniques. One thing I've had to accept over the past few months is that the way I'm wanting to work with watercolor and acrylic requires a larger palette for those media for wash mixtures. It's always a juggling act to try to determine how much stuff we can take out painting on location, considering the need to pack light and carry it all!


  1. I think these paintings are really beautiful Jamie, If I were to pick I like the bottom one the best - there is more play of light and dark. Love the colours.

  2. I was away in Ireland for about 4 weeks and am finally catching up on blogs. I like the way you tried out the colors in these...nice. I love the courtroom sketches. I would think you have to be fast and good to capture the faces especially if you don't have the best vantage point. You did well. Sorry your website crashed. I'll be watching for your new one.