An imagined night sky, inspired by a recent episode of Gary Spetz: Painting Wild Places, on PBS. I used to try to replicate his paintings but they are simply too advanced for my skills, and I end up spending a lot of time basically mixing mud. So now I watch the show (sometimes 2 or 3 times, much to roomie's chagrin). Then I use some of his ideas either in a similar work or an entirely different idea altogether.
Gary Spetz is very inspiring, and he does consistently encourage the viewer that they do have the skills for such advanced paintings. His presentation is very calm, relaxed and confident. And the soundtracks he uses on his show are beautiful new age guitar which seems to set the mood for a few hours of watercolor. The one real downside for me is that I don't have very good drawing skills, and the first step of his painting is to cover all of the preserved white with making fluid. So let's say his canvas is about 24in x 36in, he covers about 1/4 to 1/3 of that with masking fluid and so he pretty much loses me at that step.
Preservation of white is one of those weird features of watercolor art that I find very challenging. I mean, if an oil or acrylic painter wants to have, say, white clouds, white snow, a white dress, a white house, s/he pulls out the white paint and puts it in, whether it be in the beginning, middle or end of the painting. In watercolor, the color white is simply the preserved white of untouched paper, so you have to plan it all well in advance. This plus the inherent unpredictability of watercolor ink can lead to problems (but I love unpredicted surprises as colors wash into one another, bleed about, mix into new colors (or not). My watercolor paintings never come out the way I plan them, which is as much a frustration as it is an inspiration.