|Catching the Post-Season Sun -- watercolor on canvas, 28 x 40.5"|
Although it is possible to produce large watercolors on paper, I've always found that there are a few problems that arise when working on too large a scale that have to do with the nature of paper itself. First, paper of any kind is relatively soft, so if you reach over it when working, you run the risk of marring the it in a way that isn't easy to take back. For instance, if you push down too hard when you are drawing, lifting color, or erasing, from then on, you have created a spot that will grab on to more pigment than the flat areas (because water flows to the lowest point) -- whether you want that effect or not. And, since you tend to need to work essentially flat when doing any kind of wash or wet-in-wet work in watercolor (unless you are really fond of the drips of Jackson Pollock) it's hard for someone of my height (5'5+") to NOT lean over a piece that is that large while painting.
|Comrades in Fishing -- watercolor on canvas, 32.5 x 42.5"|
Another advantage of using canvas as a painting surface for a large watercolor is how much easier it is to frame the finished pieces. Watercolor paper is absorbent, soft, and thin and the paper tends to bleach in the sun. Thus regular watercolors need to be framed under glass or "acrylic glass" to protect the paper from harm, and the paint from water and sun. You also have figure out some way to keep the paper away from the "glass", as well as to provide a subsurface (like foam board of some sort) to fit under your watercolor paper. All of those things add significant cost and weight to the final piece.
|The Gourmet Capital of Ireland -- watercolor on canvas, 24 x 36"|
However, when you paint on a properly-prepared surface (with acrylic gesso, not oil-based gesso) and then later coat the finished piece with a clear acrylic spray, framing becomes much easier. You can present your watercolor as you would an oil painting: as is or with a frame (as I've done with both Catching the Post-Season Sun and The Gourmet Capital of Ireland) or unframed with a prepared edge (as I did with Comrades in Fishing.)
In the next week, I'll update my website with more information about these pieces for those who are interested in finding out more about them. If you have any questions or comments about this blog, or the pieces, I'll be happy to hear from you.