To me, capturing people and their environment in watercolor paintings is an irresistible challenge. Each time I pick up the brush I’m faced with a new adventure, and that’s what provides the satisfaction that inspires me to keep on painting.
The theme of all my paintings is the human condition, and it’s a theme that becomes richer with each painting. I take plenty of photographs of my potential subjects, and I’ve found that these, along with brief notes of color, are an excellent tool for recording the light of the moment. Back in my studio, I construct a composition by choosing elements that go together well, and I try to eliminate everything that doesn’t contribute to the expression of the subject. Similarly, I try to develop the composition to enhance the most interesting elements of the picture.
I begin a painting with a careful drawing, sometimes on a separate sheet of paper that I then trace onto my watercolor paper. For freshness, I paint my backgrounds with big, fast brushstrokes, while at the same time trying to establish diversity among the elements. I usually start the subject with the hair, then move on to the face in light tones while leaving exposed whites for areas of intense light. I paint the general shadows with the first layer still damp, then let the base dry before beginning to work on more details.
I work standing up, and I always try to complete a painting in one session. My technique is founded upon years of practice, and with each piece I remember all the scenes in the past that I didn’t have the time or the ability to paint. Now I see paintings wherever I go, and if my work can develop people’s appreciation for watercolor, then I’ll feel a great satisfaction.
Catherine Anderson teaches workshops all around the world. Please visit her Web site for a schedule of her workshops at www.catherineanderson.net.