Water Colour Painting Inspiration: Guided by Drawing and Geometry

For those of us in the United States, today is a day to celebrate Thanksgiving. We’ll gather with family and friends to share food and drink, watch football, relax and, I hope, spend a few moments honoring that for which we’re thankful. Our team is grateful that our community stretches across continents, oceans and borders, spreading a love for art that knows no bounds.

I’d like to take a moment to let you know how grateful I am for you, as well as for our network of teachers that I get to work with on a daily basis to bridge you all together. I believe in my heart that creativity is vital to our humanity. The fact that you’re reading this tells me that, even if you’re not as adamant about that statement, you either create art or have an appreciation for it, and this, too, is so important.

So while we’re together here, I’ll get to the point: new art and inspiration. Today’s feature is about the imaginative watercolor art of Julia Sorrell, as seen in Watercolor Artist magazine. I hope that if your day is a busy one full of Thanksgiving activities, you find a quiet moment to enjoy Julia’s work and let it do what art does best: briefly take us to another place and time.

The geometry is at the heart of her work, both in the development of the composition–the visible and suggested lines that lead the eye around a painting–and in the construction of the often-complex shapes she draws.

There’s a traditional view that, as an aid to drawing, all three-dimensional shapes can be seen as variations on cones, cylinders, cubes and spheres. Sorrell uses a similar system, mapping the outer points of a hand, for example, by constructing the flat wedge shape of the hand, and then extending out with the cylinders of the individual finger joints. She uses loose hatching to describe the curves.

When conceiving an imagined world, it’s like a blind person who, through feeling with his hands, can have the concept of a shape and form,” Sorrell says. “Similarly, a sculptor will create a 3-D form, whether it be a pot or a figure, by the connection from his brain to his hands. In my case, I’m trying to take my mental vision and describe with loose hatching the curves I see in my brain.”

Even so, the artist appreciates being able to check her ideas against reality. She works, seated at an easel, and immediately behind her is a tall, free-standing mirror with hinged side pieces. “It was made by my husband, who designs and makes furniture and does all my framing, and it’s brilliant,” she says. “If I need to check something, like how exactly the eye sits in the socket, I just turn around and take a close look.

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