My frequent trips to Goodwill are not solely for wool clothing. If you read this blog often you know I’m addicted to buying old clothes made of 100% wool, washing and felting them, and then storing them ad infinitum, or until the day I get my rug hooking into full gear; which, by the way, will be this summer.
My other great collection obsession is children’s books. They are not only fun to read but are also a tremendous source of inspiration for watercolors. Many children’s books are illustrated in this medium. I don’t know why, but lucky for me. And today I hit paydirt with Moses the Kitten, written by James Herriot and illustrated by Peter Barrett. I use to read this volume to my son, and it was one of his favorite. Not only are the illustrations beautiful, but the story is poignant. I often wonder if my son’s love of animals had its origin in this book. I’d like to think so.
I find images in children’s books frequently have exquisite color combinations. Rarely am I able to replicate them exactly, but because I am not a classically trained artist, I have trouble with colors and like to see them in action before I use them in a piece. Children’s book illustrations are usually very colorful and provide many of the combinations I am trying to emulate. There is another book, You and Me and the Big Blue Sea which was written and illustrated by Marie-Louise Fitzpatrick, that alone is responsible for my love and frequent use of red and white stripes. This is a wonderful book, and you will be hard-pressed to decide which you like better: the story or the art.
If you’re just starting out in watercolors, think about thrift shops, yard sales, and even the library (especially when they have their annual sale) for inspiration in children’s lit. The paintings are likely fluid and full of action, and you can’t beat the colors. Having a library of kid’s books is also great for company, babysitting, and family visits, not to mention the inspiration for some pretty great gifts like Room on the Broom!.