Categories
Art Oil Painting Watercolor

Farewell Oil Painting; Hello Watercolor, My Old Friend

Strawberries, Cheerios and Milk, 20×21″, watercolor 2013

The watercolor paintings in this post are from 10-20 years ago. I haven’t been posting new work for several months because I got stuck working on one oil painting portrait. I struggled with it, overworking, reworking, starting over, rinse and repeat. There’s something about being able to endlessly work on an oil painting that triggers my perfectionism, and not in a good way.

Pink Rose, 2003, Watercolor, 16×12″

Watercolor and gouache have natural stopping points. You have to pause to let the paint and paper dry. You can’t keep painting layer on layer endlessly or you have a muddy mess. You either call it done or you start over.

Sister City Parade, Watercolor, 22×30″, 2001
(An actual parade going down the street in my neighborhood
when I was moving in 22 years ago)

I also became sensitive to solvents. I stopped using Gamsol while painting but even the smell of drying oil paint without solvents made me feel icky. Just using a little Gamsol for brush and palette cleaning left me with the taste of metal in my mouth and a headache, both signs of chemical sensitivity. I already have funky lungs so that was it. Bye-bye oils.

Ruth Bancroft Gardens Old Barn, ink & watercolor, 5x8"
Ruth Bancroft Gardens Old Barn, ink & watercolor, 5×8″ 2013, SOLD

I’ve always preferred the look of watercolors to oil paintings anyway. In fact the only paintings I have hanging in my home are watercolors. I thought I would go through a grieving period but it’s been a couple months and I’ve felt only relief and excitement.

Sleeping Neighbor, Watercolor 30×22″, 2009, SOLD

I have thousands of dollars worth of oil paint, oil brushes, canvases, panels and oil paper that I will sell at some point. In the meantime, I’m finding it thrilling to watch water and color flow on paper again.

Sold. Michelle’s Rose, Watercolor, 2015 (SOLD)
(Painted as a demo in a watercolor class I was teaching)