For British artist David Firmstone, working large—often in the 3- to 4-feet range—opens the door to creative techniques not usually associated with watercolors. He has received international recognition for his extremely large watercolor landscapes and seascapes that, while clearly rooted in reality, have a dreamlike, sometimes unsettling, quality.
Painting large opens the door to the application of unusual techniques, and Firmstone has taken full advantage of that. Not only does he coat the paper with several layers of gesso, which he then scores and scratches to create texture, he also uses a spray gun or pours diluted paint onto the surface and moves it around.
“Why do I paint so large?” the artist asks. “It’s because I like to create problems—and
accidents—for myself and then solve them. I frequently ‘pour and draw,’ which requires
a big surface. Initially, it was about getting rid of the white space, but then I found that the marks from the pouring loosened up my watercolor process.”
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