Watercolor painting of two lemons. Own work, 2024.

Watercolor interlude

by AK Krajewska

Somewhat on a whim, I bought a little watercolor set in late April. I actually just meant to get some new coloring pencils. I like to color and doodle and do some abstract pen and ink stuff to relax. All of the weird glyphs and ink drawings that decorate this blog are my work. I'm not fantastic at representational art. But like, it's OK. Visual art is just for fun, not much ego in it for me, unlike words. Watercolor seemed like it would be fun.

And you know what, watercolor is incredibly fun! It turns out that watercolor is a great medium for capturing the feeling of a scene, if not the details. The set I bought is a portable palette with a self-watering brush, so it's very suited for taking with you and painting outdoors. The fancy term for that is plein-air or en plein air which is just French for "outdoors."

Representational painting is a whole skill, which I haven't trained in. On top of that I have very poor visual imagination. It's not exactly aphantasia, but let's just say that if my mind's eye were to go to the optometrist, the prescription would be worse than -5.00. However, I've spent a lot of my life just looking at things carefully and if the item I'm trying to paint is right in front of me and I attempt to paint what it really looks like, it comes out pretty OK. Also, it's fun and rather satisfying.

Just like dudes go fishing as an excuse to quietly enjoy solitude in nature, I paint plein air watercolors to sit and look at a dandelion for an hour without getting distracted and checking my phone. With that, here's most of what I've painted in the last month as I played around with my new, relaxing hobby.

Watercolor experiments #

Sky and ocean #

Watercolor painting of a sky with wispy clouds and a greenish ocean below

A view from the piers at Fort Mason in San Francisco

Ink glyphs against a blue wash #

Abstract ink glyphs on a background of watercolor blue wash

Watercolor ink wash painted over waterproof ink

Lemons #

Watercolor painting of two lemons

A close-up of two lemons on my neighbors lemon tree, painted near sunset

California poppies against a field of grass #

Watercolor painting of a mostly closed California poppy against a field of grass

The California poppies in my backyard started blooming

California poppy #

Watercolor painting of a single California poppy blossom

A close-up study of just one California poppy blossom, an attempt to capture the many shades of orange

Blue orb #

Watercolor painting of a blue orb blossom with only a little stem visible

Some kind of allum in the Botanical Garden with nearly perfectly spherical flower clusters

Rosemary dripping down the wall #

Watercolor painting of a rosemary bush against a gray wall

A woody rosemary bush appears to drip down a stone wall

Dandelion fuzzballs #

Watercolor painting of a dandelion gone to seed, with two full dandelion seed spheres

A dandelion gone to seed in Golden Gate Park, an experiment with abstracting the grass background while maintaining the feeling.