Watercolor Sketching, with Fishin’ on my Mind

Arrangement of Vintage Fishing Tackle

Arrangement of Vintage Fishing Tackle

A painting covers its tracks.  Painters work from the ground up.  The latest version of a painting overlays earlier versions, and obliterates them.

Annie Dillard, The Writing Life

This is my reason for posting in-progress watercolors on my blog; I want to reveal my watercolor endeavors as works under construction.  And when a painting is finished, I spend plenty of time poring over my photographs taken of the painting as it underwent the stages of construction.

For several days now, I have been looking at this old tackle box overflowing with vintage lures, wondering over what kind of rod & reel to put with them. I’m not yet finished with this “fishing” series, but this evening I took my Garcia Mitchell 300 open-face reel off the display wall of my study and decided to build a small composition around it.  By the time I finished laying out this trio of objects and masking off an 8 x 10″ area on my watercolor block, I was ready to crank out a blockbuster watercolor.

The youth gets together his materials to build a bridge to the moon, or perchance a palace or temple to the earth, and at length the middle-aged man concludes to build a wood-shed with them.

Henry David Thoreau

Now, ninety minutes after beginning, I look at this “sketch” and in the Thoreauvian sentiment, acknowledge that my moon-bridge has become a mere wood-shed, but nevertheless a preliminary study for a larger, more finished painting.  Though the work has fallen below my preliminary expectations, I would not have traded this evening’s quiet studio experience for anything.

Andrew Wyeth said he would work for weeks on preliminary sketches, drybrush watercolors and fragments of compositions, knowing that the “communion” from these encounters would find its way into the final composiiton.  I’m not sure yet what kind of “fishing painting” lies just around the bend (if any), but this evening provided a nice quiet space in my holiday weekend for making art, for studying these small objects, for experimenting with a few new color combinations, and exploring new techniques in drawing and watercolor.

Thanks for reading.

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6 Responses to “Watercolor Sketching, with Fishin’ on my Mind”

  1. djdfr Says:

    One might actually go out to a wood shed and spend pleasurable time there.


  2. Linda Halcomb Says:

    You encourage me to slow down. I rush ahead and then have something that has a boring composition or a muddy mess. Thank you!


    • davidtripp Says:

      Well, thank you, Linda. I now have to be told to slow down. I screwed up last night’s watercolor because I pushed it too hard, too fast, and it collapsed. My fault. Sometimes we wonder if we’ll ever catch on! We cannot force nature–she’ll do what she does, and we can either comply or pay the consequences.


  3. anna warren portfolio Says:

    These sketches are beautiful, just as they are, floating gently on the page.


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