“Losing it” is not usually a good thing, e.g. losing your keys or your grip (literal or otherwise).  But it turns out that losing a few things can really be good for your paintings.

Today I took a workshop from Charles Rowland that he called, “Express Yourself in Watercolor.”  The ideas that I will take away from the workshop are all about “losing it” – namely hard edges and quite a bit of your source photograph.  This is not new information for art students.  It’s just that we need to hear things multiple times and a good teacher like Charlie can say it in a way that clicks or maybe I’m just ready to hear it.

Charlie didn’t try to teach us every single thing about creating beautiful paintings.  Instead he showed us how a single photo could be a springboard for multiple paintings, if you just focus on the shape or idea that caught your eye in the first place and lose the rest.

The second big idea is the one that I suspect will make the most difference.  I wanted to take a watercolor workshop because my attempts at watercolor usually don’t end well (I’ve got stacks to prove it, but you’re not going to see them.)  Charlie’s style of painting has a sense of drama and I wanted to see how he made that happen.  I’m a low key person but when it comes to painting I’d love to be a drama queen.


Through a demo using simple shapes and later a landscape demo he showed that class what a difference lost edges and soft edges can make in a composition.  They consolidate small shapes into bigger, more interesting shapes.  They lead the eye.  They allow the focus to stay on a few hard edges near the center of interest.  They add mystery.  They rock!


Here’s my humble workshop attempt at “losing it.”








Here’s Charlie’s demo:



I’m not there yet but with a few decades of practice maybe I can become a drama queen after all.

You can see Charlie’s beautiful work at: