It is the approx. size of a Triscuit, but we ran out of Triscuits so here it is with a Tostito.
This was one of the first watercolor paintings that I did, ever, about five years ago when I started working on my book (which is called When Wanderers Cease to Roam in case you are a new reader dropping in from Toulouse — Bonjour! by the way). At the time that I painted this picture, this was the very best that I could do.
As a brand new beginner watercolorist I had the good sense to start small. It’s efficient: the smaller your work area, the less time it will take for you to find out whether or not your effort is a lost cause — I didn’t want to have to work on a big painting for an hour and then realize it was trash; when your painting is the approx. size of a Triscuit you know within minutes whether it’s a keeper or not.
Working small also gives you the luxury of starting over and over over without wasting a lot of paper and feeling guilty about using up too much landfill for naught. You can paint a dozen crappy paintings a day(and if you are a beginner, rest assured that you will paint a dozen crappy paintings; if you don’t paint a dozen crappy paintings a day then you are not trying hard enough) and feel OK about throwing them all away.
Baby steps. Working on a small scale lets you take baby steps before you get all abstract-expressionist-mural-size confident.
I had the nerve to put this first painting of The Lone Skater in the dummy book that I put together (all I had was the first three chapters) when I sent the proposal for When Wanderers Cease to Roam to publishers. When Bloomsbury bought the manuscript this picture was there on page 9, in the January chapter.
So then I had a contract to deliver an entire book. And I kept painting and I worked my way through all 12 chapters, by which time I’d been using watercolor paints for a whole year and I could not help but improve my technique as an illustrator. There was such a difference between those paintings that I’d done for the last few chapters and the stuff I’d done for the first three chapters that I had to go back and re-paint most of the old illustrations at the very beginning of the book, including The Lone Skater.
This is what The Lone Skater looked like when I re-did it after I’d been painting for a year. This is the picture that made it into print on page 9 of WWCTR.
What a difference a year makes.
Practice, practice, practice; sometimes I think I should apply the same ethic to my deplorable cooking skills but then Top Cat would start expecting me to make dinner once in a while and that would seriously cut into all the time that I already spend not lifting a finger around the house. As much as it amazes me how my crappy painting skills have improved by dint of simple practice, I have to insist that there are some things about me that are as good as they are going to get.