The watercolor process begins simply.
I spend time studying my subject. Before painting a cityscape I soak in the atmosphere, wandering. When painting portraits, I have conversations with my sitter to help capture their essence, then take photos and make reference sketches from various angles.
A great watercolor begins with a great contour line drawing. Value mapping ensures a solid foundation for the meeting of pigment and water on the page. Paper choices also yield varied results: Hot-pressed paper is very smooth, and best for producing a crisp, clean image. Cold-pressed paper maintains the natural texture of the pulp-to-sheet paper making process and best suits landscape and portraits in which colors slip together and blend without clear delineation.
Once the paper is ready for paint, I become a facilitator, applying paint within the mapped values and allowing natural processes to take course. On a rainy day, the application will dry slowly, offering more opportunities for reworking and offering different results from a session when I might work outside in the sun. The color and water bloom organically within the structure of the drawing, and I coax the fluid along with sable brushes or add detail with a fountain pen. I wait, watch, and see a hundred variables contribute to the finished work.