This I Know | The Magic of Watercolor Painting

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In the Fall 2022 issue of Watercolor Artist Magazine, we featured these inspiring words on the magic of watercolor from artist Chien Chung-Wei

After many years painting in watercolor, celebrated artist Chien Chung-Wei has learned a thing or two about how to make the most of this magical medium. Take his statements on beauty, artistry and technique and infuse your own painting practice with renewed energy—and do so with the heart of an explorer for, as Chung-Wei tells us, “Watercolor favors the adventurer!”    

On Watercolor …

“How to approach those unexpected changes that inevitably happen in the process of watercolor painting? Let me quote the master Sheng-Yen: ‘Accept it, handle it, and let go of it.’”

“Watercolor painting is fun because it’s hard!”

The Dog Walking Down The Steps (watercolor on paper, 141/2×103/5)

On Beauty …

When the Streetlights Go On (watercolor on paper, 141/2×103/5)

“The ability to discover beauty is decided by your aesthetic cultivation more than by cameras and sketchbooks, and your ability to create beauty is decided by your practical painting experience, not the particular brush you hold in your hand.”

“What motivates you and me to create art? The answer is beauty! To discover, pursue and create beauty, follow your heart.”

“Create beauty from your daily life. Look critically at common things and ordinary scenery to discover beauty. There, you’ll also find creativity.”


On Technique …

“I don’t care much about what my subject is, or what I see in a photo, I simply strive to discover and strengthen the intrigue of the forms I observe. This is the most fascinating and important part of painting.”

“In order to highlight the power of details, and to make them meaningful and valuable, the depiction of details must be based on a well-constructed sense of overall wholeness.”

“Use the minimum detail to create maximum energy. The premise is that only when the key details are built upon a strong composition can they create astonishing effects.”

Verona Market (watercolor on paper, 141/2×103/5)
Dancing Like Butterflies

“Use simplified shapes of color to imply the most complicated details.”

“The background of a painting—the color tones, shapes and texture—usually determines 80 percent of the atmosphere and mood in the picture.”

“Only after you set up the structure of a painting can you enjoy maneuvering the brushstrokes with unconstrained freedom.”


On Failure & Success …

“Why does a painting fail? Lack of skill or familiarity with the medium is maybe only 10 percent. The other 90 percent results from not knowing what you want to present.”

 

“I’m only better at watercolor than my students because I have messed up more watercolor papers.”

Shantou in The Rain (watercolor on paper, 291/2×22)

Meet the Artist

Taiwanese artist Chien Chung-Wei was born in 1968. He earned a Masters degree in Fine Art at the National Taiwan Normal University. Over the years, he has won many awards in international competitions and has the dinstinction of becoming the first artist from Taiwan to earn Signature Membership and a Dolphin Fellowship with the American Watercolor Society. He teaches watercolor in Taiwan and also offers instructional watercolor workshops worldwide. Follow the artist on social media at facebook.com/hibariprince and on Instagram @chien_chung_wei.

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