A friend of mine recently introduced me to Cheng-Khee Chee’s watercolors. Chee is a highly celebrated watercolor artist in the US and uses a variety of techniques to paint his fantastic pieces. But particularly, my friend shared about his saturated wet technique. I watched this you-tube video:
Since my watercolor class is on hiatus until the end of September, I thought I’d explore this. Being the low-budget girl I am, I didn’t pay to purchase the instructional video. I just got some really thick watercolor paper and sort of made up what I thought the technique might be based on the commercial. My immediate urge was to paint faces.
After slicing the sheet into four panels, I soaked the paper in a cookie sheet full of water for about 10 minutes. Then I sort of shook the excess water off and plopped it onto a board. Using a thick, square brush I globbed watercolor pigment all over the super-wet paper, blissing out on the deep colors oozing and shifting in a rather random fashion. Super fun.
I let the color sit for a bit as I turned the paper around, and around, looking for patterns, looking for the face. Up until now, any faces I’ve painted I’ve drawn first, sketching and erasing until I have a reasonable looking person looking back at me. Preparing to paint without a guide, without a sketch, was daunting.
Then I picked up a damp, clean fat brush and lifted the wet paint off the paper, swirling here, stroking there, sort of sculpting the face from the paint. I learned quickly that this is just as unforgiving as painting the watercolor on – repairs are near impossible with this squirelly medium. Colors get muddy, the water makes all kinds of blobs where you don’t want them, etc. Of course I could paint more on top, perhaps, once it dried, and I may try that later with my very first attempt (not shown here, ugh). This one was my second attempt:
I was pretty happy with this one. I get a kick out of the personality of the face. I have no idea where it comes from. My third attempt, this morning, I like even better:
I discovered that a fine line of pigment sometimes builds up if I push the brush rather then pull. It’s kind of like pushing the paint around, and can allow tiny corrections. I have a ridiculously long way to go to even approach what Cheng-khee Chee can do with this, and I still don’t know how he does it, really. But inspiration is an exciting gift, and I’ve definitely been inspired this week.