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Taking the bull by the horns or how I learned to love watercolour

My characteristic technique

By chance, I once accomplished something that is not so easy – I found a technique that no one else uses in this way. I had so much fun with it that I cultivated and improved it over the years. Using markers and ballpoint pens, I created a kind of wiping effect in my sketchbooks that gave my drawings an interesting depth. Since you can’t mix the colours of markers and they were usually too saturated on their own, I had also very quickly discovered my "unobtrusive" favourite color and used nothing else anymore. A strong recognition feature.

Problems upon problems

Then the problems started. First, the sketchbook manufacturer changed their paper, and the wiping effect no longer worked – the ink just soaked in way too fast. I contacted them but this didn’t help – I couldn't get any info out about the change. For a while, I bought up their expensive older limited editions. Now I had it always in the back of my mind that my technique had an expiration date if I didn't find a replacement.

Next I set about ordering and testing paper samples, finding some that worked quite similarly, but never exactly the same. On one that I was reasonably happy with, I finally created larger drawings because I now had A4 and A3 sheets. One resulting drawing in A4 even made it to my wall. Wonderful!

But then it became more than obvious that alcoholic markers are not made for eternity – the motif simply faded little by little. And so did my enjoyment of the technique.

Taking the bull by the horns

In the meantime, I had started with acrylic painting as well and discovered that I really enjoyed working with colour. I wanted to try it in urban sketching as well. So without further ado, I bought a small watercolour box, plus ink pens and a brush with a water tank. I didn't expect much because I never really liked the paint box when I was in school, and I wasn't sure if the technique would suit me.

The picture-perfect Porto

I was more than surprised at how easily I made the switch. But that was probably also due to the beautiful, colourful Porto, Portugal. I really couldn't have picked a more picturesque subject to start with. Colourful houses everywhere, small nested alleys and warped buildings, the river with its bridges in between, and of course the sea – I didn't know what to draw first. Watercolouring, contrary to expectations, was surprisingly easy for me and I immediately enjoyed the freedom of mixing. I can use the colours pure and thus intensely bright, or mix them to desaturate, and control the opacity by using more or less water. And they dry comfortably fast, with almost no waiting time. So much freedom, so much life in the images.


Even if I mourn "my" technique a little bit and unfortunately I lose its uniqueness because of that, I have to say that I enjoy the colourfulness so much that I don't want to go back. And travel to Porto, it's worth it.

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