I came to Paris with the intention of doing a series of gouache still lifes for my September show at Playhouse on the Square. (The opening is lucky Friday the 13th for anyone planning ahead.) I like the depth I can get with gouache, but I’m still learning how it works, and often I find myself thinking it was better two layers ago. I’m going to have to pay attention and try to keep from over fussing. Somewhere along the way, I did a couple of watercolor studies in my sketchbook as studies before doing the gouache, and I really liked the lightness and airy-ness of them. So I’ve ended up doing four watercolors for the show as well.
It’s easy to default into the familiar and comfortable, though, and there was a time when watercolor was incredibly hard going for me. It still is sometimes, but I’m glad I pushed through and got it into my regular tool kit. I gave up on gouache two summers ago and don’t want to do that again, but I am still struggling. I want to do some forest studies with it when I get home, and hopefully that will keep me excited about using it. You can see the two side by side here and decide foe yourself. I think the gouache needs a little more blue in the purple shadows. I’ve got a couple I’ll do a small bit of balancing/retouching on next time I get the paints out. Right now I’ve shifted gears a bit and am painting more out in the city again.
Martha Kelly is an artist and illustrator who lives and works in Memphis, Tennessee.
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