Watercolor and Prismacolor Process

The Process has evolved with me

SerraIt began with drawing. Pencil in hand, drawing whatever I saw, and whatever I felt, it was my way of relating to the world, and making sense of the way things work together. Although I was certain that I was not very good at it, I could not let it go. I’ve just always loved to draw. In college, I took life drawing classes so many times that they would not let me audit the class anymore, so I taught it.

All my life, wherever I have looked, I have seen faces. In wood grain, in the clouds, in the cracks in the paint of a building, there were faces, so faces frequently show up in my work.


Watercolor Alone

Then, years ago, a friend and I promised to do a show for the Arts Council in Lassen County. My friend was going to show her watercolors. I had never done watercolor but I have always enjoyed a challenge, so
I agreed to do watercolor as well.
The show was well received.

I dreamed this process one night

Sisters Dreaming - detail from Lucid Dreamer

Then, one night I dreamed of combining watercolor and prismacolor pencil in layers. This process feeds two divergent parts of me as an artist.

I purposefully use watercolor techniques that minimize my control, then allow myself utmost control with the pencil work. That way, the watercolor layers are usually more free and yield surprises. Faces and other hidden images emerge. The prismacolor pencil allows me to find the emerging images as well as to indulge my urge to become immersed in detail. It is a joyful combination for me.

Once the initial drawing or painting layer (I vary) is laid down, I am aware of the overall composition, and main subject matter. From there, I enter the world of “spirit play” – the zone of art creation.

Detail from Triple Goddess, before being cut up

The more I indulge myself in this process, the more layers I create, and the more surprises happen. I think my love of working with layers is one of the things that has bled over from and to my graphic design work. In Photoshop or Illustrator, the key to the rich image is utilizing layers. I could not achieve the rich graphics that I do without layers. Watercolor also is all about layering. You build up the image by layering more and more pigment for the darker areas. It’s all just too much fun, and highly satisfying.