1000 Heads: the book

1000 heads, my illustration book

Inspiring books for the creative type


The real secret of watercolor

example of Jean Michel Folon WatercolorI hope the title of this post isn’t misleading. Let me explain. I remember one phrase in an interview with Jean Michel Folon I read a long time ago. He said more or less that “it took me eighteen years to learn the secret of watercolor. You must use lots of water and little color.” This may seem a very simple statement, even a boutade, but there is a deep truth and a really clever explanation of what watercolor is all about and why it keeps fascinating us.

One thing that Folon’s watercolors make me think about is the themes of the artist. One of the main differences between design-commercial art and other forms of art is the question about the theme. An artist often needs some kind of excuse to begin painting or drawing. And sometimes it seems like everything has been said already—it makes you wonder if a particular subject is really worth painting it. Watercolors, in particular, are regarded by some as a bit passé technique, something more appropriate for landscape sketches or illustration, but a bit apart from modernity and post-modernity. However, artists like Paul Klee demonstrated there are no barriers other than your mind’s in the choice of theme and technique. You can explore the endless resources of the dreams, your imagination and wit to create new images: abstract, figurative or somewhere in between. And any technique may serve this purpose perfectly.

In the case of Paul Klee, just open any book about his work and simply enjoy the flow of dreams and imagination, transferred into paper with watercolor. He was always searching something, always constructing his own visual vocabulary in a never ending exploration of his inner self. Jean Michel Folon has been creating a world of his own, as well, for several decades now. He has used watercolors to great effect, always with subtlety and delicious colors. Folon has created many memorable posters and illustrations. Well, let’s see some of Folon’s works.

Whenever I run out of “excuses” to paint yet another watercolor, I try to think about creators like Folon or Klee—just to remember there are so many reasons, so many themes.


4ojos said...

El pasado dia 20 murió el gran Folon.

Simon Fieldhouse - Sydney said...

I agree.


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