When I was a high school art student, I had a teacher who hated watercolors. This didn't particularly occur to me at the time, but looking back on it, I can recall working in watercolors only as a curriculum requirement fulfillment--maybe once a year for four years. The rest of the time was spent on charcoal, collage, oil (until a government decree announced that it be eradicated from the classroom as a hazard) and of course, my absolute least personal favorite...acrylics. My teacher LOVED acrylics. Easy to mix, easy to clean up, lightning fast drying and cheap--it was the ultimate medium for an 84 minute double class period. She also seemed to like working "up" as in on an easel--something you simply cannot do with watercolors. As a result, I never got particularly good at watercolors and the whole idea fell off my radar completely until just a few years ago. I forget how this happened exactly, but I was working on a project that required painting and I decided to do a watercolor. Not having any paper in my stash, I went to my local mom and pop art supply store to pick up a block and all they had was Arches Cold Press paper, so I bought a small one without looking at the price.
When I went to pay for it, I nearly fainted. How much??? For TWENTY SHEETS OF PAPER??? The lady who owns the store just looked at me like I was crazy and said, "Have you ever used this before?" Um, no (in my head: All I've ever used is the free acid filled crap from high school and since it's all turned yellow, I didn't want to use it). She promised me that I wouldn't regret the purchase and holy crap was she right! As I ran my brush over the paper, the color seemed to jump off the page--I was in a state of artistic nirvana and I haven't looked back. It was a true aha moment. Since then, I've noticed that every single serious artist I know swears by this product, so it appears I am very late to the party. Oh well, better late than never. I wonder if good 'ol Mrs. Henning ever tried Arches...
I've since found that Dick Blick is the best place to buy it if you don't want to have to get a home equity loan to buy paper. It's always 43% off list price. Actually, everything is cheaper at Dick Blick. I'm lucky enough to have one in Philadelphia, but you can always buy online.
Anyway, one of the things I have always liked to paint are things with a lot of reflective surfaces. It's one of those things that seems like it should be really hard, but isn't as long as you are able to really see what you're painting--you simply paint what you see as opposed to what you think it should look like.
I recently completed this piece, which was so much fun--I mean, what could be more reflective than mary janes? I just listed it in my Etsy store here--the perfect thing as a shower or new baby gift or for a special little girl who loves party shoes.