|Moonrise, La Giudecca, Venice by JMW Turner, 1829,
watercolor painting, 8 7/8 x 11 1/4.
Delicacy, luminousness, light, and color–these are what you can expect when you look at a watercolor painting. But details? Heck no–or at least, not much. With watercolor art, you just aren't going to see a lot of minutiae in a painting because of the medium's fluid, unpredictable nature.
But watercolor artists who have faced this challenge and still want to incorporate some of the particulars of a scene they are painting are not without recourse. First, power lies within the tools you use. A round brush can make broad strokes as well as fine ones, and spotter brushes have a fine point that can be used for precision detailing.
One of the watercolor lessons I will never forget has to do with going in after a painting is done to create detail or textural effects. You can use a razor, toothpick, even a fingernail, to scratch away the paint. Or blot away color with a cotton swab or blotting paper while it is still wet. You can also work wet on dry, because the dry surface of your paper won't allow newly applied wet paint to spill around as easily as when the paper is wet.
Mostly though, I say play to the medium's strengths. When you are looking at a scene, rework it in your head to reduce detail to a handful of dots or dashes, and don't be timid about allowing your natural brushstrokes lend themselves to the "detail" you may want to capture. Work with what you have, and you might just find that the detail you want can be had other ways!
Watercolor painting is all about experimentation, allowing the painting to be a visual adventure, and letting go. In Best of Watercolor digital download, you'll find the artist instruction and techniques that can get you there, and the inspiration that will allow you to enjoy every step of the process along the way. Enjoy!
P.S. When you are working in watercolor, how do you incorporate detail? Leave a comment and let me know.