Last week, I did it. I bought some Daniel Smith watercolors because I had heard about them so much and for so long that I had to try them too. I bought the “Watercolor Essentials” set of 6 small tubes and a tube of Iridescent Scarab Red – a brownish red that has a green glow. Exciting!
Inspired by Ippolito Caffi
But what to paint? The idea came this week when I went to see Ippolito Caffi’s architectural paintings and landscapes at Sinebrychoff Art Museum in Helsinki. It’s the kind of art that I personally don’t like to create, but I enjoyed the exhibition. Here’s Piazza del Pantheon by Caffi, an oil painting on cardboard.
As said, realistic architectural urban scenes and landscapes are not what usually come to my mind when I start creating. But after watching a lot of scenes from Italy brought memories from my trip to Florence and Rome last summer. So why not pick a random photo of the trip and start painting?
Palazzo Doria Pamphilj
The photo that I quickly chose was taken at the inner court of Palazzo Doria Pamphilj, Rome. The palace has a wonderful art museum that I blogged in July 2017. I thought that I could use it as a loose reference and create something totally different, abstract perhaps. Painting a scenery with watercolors felt too traditional to me. So I just started splashing water and blue paint.
Scenery with Daniel Smith Watercolors
Daniel Smith watercolors are lively. Not only colors are lively but the pigment seems to travel quickly, and it creates wonderful effects.
Here’s my painting after playing with big brushes and water.
Then I changed to a water brush that is quite narrow. I love using this brush. It’s so easy to paint small details with it.
Iridescent Scarab Red looks interesting! Very different from any of the watercolors that I know. At this point, I thought about making a fantasy scene of some kind.
Time to loosen up!
The more I painted, the more tempting it became to paint Palazzo Doria Pamphilj as I experienced it. It was a really hot summer day when I visited it. It’s located in the middle of busy Rome, yet its thick walls seem to isolate the museum from the city.
I let the image be visible while I was working but did not follow it to detail.
I found Daniel Smith’s watercolors easy and fun. I don’t like the color selection of the Essentials set so much, and the paints are really expensive compared to any other brand. The owner of the art supply store said that he likes to sell the essentials set at a fairly low price because once you try them, you are hooked and need some more. He may be right! But because I spend quite a lot of money in top quality oil paints, I might not buy more Daniel Smith shortly.
Finished Painting and Signature
The painting of Palazzo Doria Pamphilj became quite loose, but it’s ok. I enjoyed connecting with the memories, and this is a bit like a souvenir from the place.
At my recent visit to the museum, I also saw Giovanni Battista Piranesi‘s amazing graphic works. They had beautiful signatures, so I also added one to the watercolor painting. I think it finishes the painting nicely.
This project is a perfect example of how being a bit adventurous can open new ideas. Landscape and architectural painting don’t feel so boring to me anymore! I have ideas for next quick paintings too. This kind of exploration is not only fun but also important for the creativity. If you limit yourself to one theme, to one type of work, creating becomes tedious. To me, this kind of small and quick projects give ideas and energy to bigger paintings.
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When you have been creating art for a while, it’s time to let go of step-by-step instructions, get a little looser, and explore the opportunities that art has for you.
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