Plus: A New Artist Spotlight
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Wednesday, March 20th, 2024

Wishy-Washy Watercolor? Far From It!

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"Greek Hospitality" by Georgia Mansur

Georgia Mansur reveals how watercolor contributes to her personal aesthetic and enhances her preferred way of working, and why it’s the perfect medium for painting en plein air.

The following is part of a series featuring a leader in the art community who is on the faculty of the 11th Annual Plein Air Convention & Expo in The Great Smoky Mountains, May 20-24, 2024. Georgia also has a brand new art video workshop available, titled “Vibrant Watercolors,” in which she demystifies the watercolor process, guiding you through three critical stages of painting.

Inspiring Watercolor Artist: Georgia Mansur

Painting style: I would describe my work as bold, colorful, expressive, and innovative. There’s nothing wishy-washy about it. My goal is to paint my impression of how a scene makes me feel rather than copy exactly what is in front of me. I like pushing the boundaries to see how far I can go to express my feelings and make it truly my own.

Often we see a fleeting glimpse of Mother Nature’s power and when we try to paint it, something gets lost in translation. I try to capture that glory and wonder in my work, and move people to feel it on a visceral level in themselves.

“End of Summer” by Georgia Mansur

How watercolor contributes to her personal aesthetic: Watercolor may be the perfect medium to capture first impressions fast, fresh, and free. I also love that I can lift areas to reclaim highlights, say on a sunstruck roof or flower petal.

How watercolor enhances her preferred way of working: My painting method generally consists of three washes or stages, but when I have a subject that calls for dimensional texture — for example, rocks, trees, or old buildings — I sometimes add an extra step at the start.

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In this case, I apply a layer of paste or ground, such as:
– Daniel Smith Watercolor Ground
– Qor Light Dimensional Ground, or
– Golden pastes that work well with watercolor, including Crackle Paste and Molding Paste. The pastes and grounds dry quickly, but I often use that time to get started on a second piece before going back into them.

Using these tools makes my work more three-dimensional so I can really play up the textural elements. Watercolor ground is also a great tool for reclaiming my whites if I get a bit carried away. They work similarly to Liquid Paper in their ability to allow me to go back and make corrections — to take a second bite of the cherry.

“Hill of Gold” by Georgia Mansur

How watercolor is particularly well-suited to painting en plein air: Lightweight and easy to travel with, watercolor allows for a spontaneous response without too much setup or breakdown time, often requiring little more than a sketchbook or a paper block.

I think the more readily accessible the materials are, the more likely people are to use them — and the more often they use them, the more they gain the benefits of putting miles on the brush. Bonus: watercolor washes up with soap and water.

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Artist Spotlight: Cecy Turner

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“ Winter’s Soul,” Cecy Turner, 11 x 14 in., Oil on Linen, 2022; A demonstration for an art club in Dallas, sold at Wild Horse Gallery, Steamboat Springs, Colorado.

What is the best thing about being an artist?

Cecy Turner: One of the best things about being an artist is that you begin to see the world in a different way from others. You notice a lot more, and things seem to jump out and interest you. Seeing beautiful things all around us that pass by unnoticed by some makes for a perfect day for an artist.

Painting outdoors is inspirational for me because 1. I am outdoors and 2. I’m seeing the light on the landscape firsthand and the effect it has. If you don’t paint plein air, there are many ways to stay motivated. Even mixing some colors together you haven’t used before might yield a new palette you can’t wait to try on a painting! Keeping your camera close by could help in catching that perfect light on a flower or a bird out your kitchen window that now you can’t wait to try.

Traveling and going through photos from past trips are a great source of inspiration, of course, and looking at some old photos later in a new light and after you’ve grown and changed some could call you to do a painting. Take plenty of photos and figure out a good way to categorize them on your laptop, just like you keep your colors on your palette organized the same way!

“Last Light in Moab Valley,” Cecy Turner, 15 x30 in., Oil on Linen, 2023; A stunning scene coming into Moab, included in the WAOW 34th National, Phippen Museum, March 1-June 23.

“The Crags from Fish Creek,” Cecy Turner, 20 x 34 in., Oil on Linen, 2023; One of the mountains we view from our home in Colorado is quite a winter sight.

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Editor of Plein Air Today

CherieDawn Haas

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