How I spent my winter vacation...

I took most of December off from my day job to relax and work on new art projects. Of course, as it always goes, I didn't get nearly as much done as I would have liked or ended up doing things I did not plan (such as this new website). I did get solid time in on two big things though, exploring Western watercolors and doing Chinese watercolor reminiscent of ancient painting styles. There is a great simplicity in Sumi-e and Chinese watercolor that can be both freeing and frustrating. You learn to live with your mistakes, or as Bob Ross called them, "happy accidents", because there's very little you can do to correct it. But sometimes those mistakes just make you want to rip it up start over >.< Western watercolor on the other hand is more forgiving in that respect though certainly comes with its own challenges. I love some of the watercolor techniques I've seen though that you can't elsewhere so I've really been wanting to try it. 

My first few watercolor attempts where just playing around and trying to paint some random thing that came to mind. This mostly resulted in looking like I was back in grade school. Never an encouraging start, but I knew I just needed more planning. So, I decided to work on two projects at once by taking my sketch for my Chinese watercolor painting and also doing a Western watercolor version of it.

The inspiration for this first set came from a photo of the Laojun Mountains where fresh air was recently collected from and passed out in Zhengzhou.

This is the Chinese watercolor version on Xuan paper. There was a lot more bleeding on this than I would like but that is the nature of this paper when using thinned paints.

This is the Western watercolor version and my first fully completed watercolor painting. I experimented with many things while working on this so it's a bit messy, but hey, that was the point of this. The exact same outline was used for this one as the Chinese version which I decided wasn't what I wanted.

Overall I'm happy since this very much in the experimental/learning phase. For the second set I decided to try using semi-sized Xuan paper as it doesn't bleed easily. And for the watercolor version I decided to try not doing the outline in black ink. This time inspiration came from this amazing artwork.

My final paintings of 2014:

Using the semi-sized Xuan paper made doing this very similar to working with Western watercolor as the water is not readily absorbed by the paper. I missed the gradation effects that occur with the raw paper even though it can bleed like crazy.

Wasn't sure what to do with the background on this one but I didn't want to do the same thing as the Chinese version. Settled on using paint splatters to create some motion while keeping a simple color palette.

I was tempted to save this to be the first painting in my 52 project, but decided that would be cheating. There were some other experiments such as trying out sodium alginate thicker for dye, but this is all I have to share right now.