Outdoor Sketching - Richard C. Moore

Richard C Moore Sketching a WatercolorEver since Winslow Homer and John Singer Sargent, Americans have had a love affair with watercolor painting.  In the year I was born, Eliot O'Hara published a book entitled Making Watercolor Behave. At the time it was one of the very few "how to" books on the subject.
Today the shelves of larger bookstores are crammed with books on watercolor painting, promising not only to make your watercolors "behave," but to sing, dance, and shout for joy!  Most of these books are handsomely presented.  Many of these books are very helpful and instructive.  But some, in my opinion, are overwhelming and intimidating, and therefore not very helpful for the beginner.
The aim of this website is very limited:  To set forth the joy of doing quick, simple, small watercolors outdoors.  I purposely call them "sketches" rather than "paintings," in order to emphasize their simplicity and spontaneity.  It is the author's contention that such paintings are the easiest to accomplish, and therefore an excellent way for the beginner to become acquainted with the pleasure and challenge of watercolor painting---and in the process, produce a wonderful memory of a time and place.
I started painting small watercolor sketches outdoors about six years ago. Although most of my painting consists of larger easel paintings, six years ago I bought a little folding watercolor set with pan colors.  I found that I could carry the essentials for watercolor sketching in two pockets---and began taking the kit nearly everywhere my wife and I traveled.  Although I continue studio painting, I derive the greatest enjoyment from one or two hour sketches done outdoors.  My dear wife is patient while I am painting, and often writes poetry and sometimes joins me in doing a little painting herself.
This diversion has been such a pleasure that I decided I would like to share it with others.  If this little website has any focused purpose, it is to communicate this pleasure to the reader---both the pleasure it has given to me, and the promise of pleasure it can give to anyone willing to give it a try.
Perhaps the browsing of this website will light a spark of desire in you to try the same simple sketching.  If it does, I hope to include enough instruction in the text, in the example of the paintings themselves, and in the section following the pictures, to get you started.  As I have said, I believe these small sketches are the easiest way to begin in watercolor painting.  Larger, more finished paintings,  require more knowledge, experience, and effort than these small sketches require.  But you can work small and learn a great deal toward more ambitious painting.

However, the greatest joy in all of this is the way sketching and painting connect one with the subject!   I have taken thousands of photographs.  I have looked through the viewfinder of a video camera until my eyeball quivered.  But none of this frenetic activity has begun to connect me with the essence of a place as has the act of rendering it on paper with pencil or paintbrush!

Whether your subject is a great and famous sight halfway around the world, or a humble fishing shack or barn a few miles from home, the thrill of "connecting" is the same.  I can look at every one of my old sketches and experience some delightful memory of the day and hour in which it was painted.  I would not part with one of them!

In Part I of the website, entitled "Artists Comments",  I have included a selection of paintings done since I started doing these small sketches.   I chat about each location because each sketch awakens in me some pleasant memories.   I have also tried to include some hints about the techniques of painting for those interested in pursuing the same avocation, or who at least are curious about my methods.  I sincerely believe that there is no instruction more useful than closely examining the work of another painter!  The watercolors of the great watercolorists of the past are the unsurpassed teaching tool.  Even the simple paintings in this book can teach you a great deal about watercolor sketching outdoors.  Hence, I have included a large number of illustrations in this book, for they carry the bulk of my message.

Part II, entitled "How to Paint",  is a section on materials and techniques to help you get started.  You may want to read through this section first.  There are many more complete instructional books on doing watercolor on the market, but try to find one that teaches basic techniques in a logical manner and does not overwhelm you with discouraging detail.  Whatever book you choose, be sure you start by practicing and mastering simple techniques before you try to freely express yourself.  You can “express yourself” all over the place after you have learned some basics.  I hope this website will help you with some of the basics.

So I now invite you to come ramble with me as I paint.  I simply hope that you will experience some of the pleasure I experienced at the time---and perhaps be led to do this yourself !!

Richard C. Moore, ASMA


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