Pacific Pup: The California Coast According to Annette

Midweek Update
Mistakes are your friend.
When I first started painting, I quickly realized that watercolors don’t match my personality. They often require careful planning, a good deal of patience, and organization of thoughts (uh-oh…). I love to work spontaneously, letting happy mistakes shape my sketches. I also like to work quickly, and I get very impatient if I think my techniques aren’t working.
One of the most rewarding aspects of watercolor painting is the ability to layer colors and let the white of the paper show through the pigment. This allows an illusion of brilliance to the artwork. For this reason, it helps to plan what areas to leave white for highlights or bright spots. Unfortunately, by the time I’ve realized where my highlights will be, my entire sketch is haphazardly covered with paint, graphite, colored pencil, you name it!
As an impatient, disorganized watercolorist, I must confess that I often cheat (oh no!). I use different kinds of opaque white media on top of watercolors all the time.  This is a quick fix in the field and sometimes adds an interesting twist to transparent watercolors. There many kinds of white media I’ve had success with, all through trial and error.
Permanent or Titanium White gouache works well because it is a very bright and opaque white, almost matching the intense white of the paper. Gouache is similar to watercolor in that it is water-soluble, but it is opaque and sits on top of the paper rather than soaking in. White gel pens are super fun for small, intense highlights, and they allow for more control. White acrylic is a valuable medium because when it is dry, you can paint or use colored pencil on top of it (sometimes gouache moves around when re-wetted). White colored pencil has really interesting effects on textured paper. I’ve even used Wite-Out in some cases!
While I’m always trying to work on planning and patience, I love experimenting with these different media. Don’t ever be afraid to make mistakes or mix media that are completely different from each other. It always pays off to take risks, and there are no rules besides the ones you make for yourself.
See you at the beach!
Annette Filice
(Scientific Illustrator Intern)

Sketch Notes:
Mistakes are your friend
White Gel Pen: Very opaque, allows for a lot of control, and good for small bright highlights.
White Gouache: Very opaque, very bright, but will shift when re-wetted.
White Acrylic: Can be painted or drawn on top of, but sometimes dries a shade darker.
White Colored Pencil: Creates really cool effects on textured paper, is not very opaque, and can get waxy or shiny.
On the Bulb, I used white acrylic for the intense highlight, and white colored pencil for the rest of the soft highlights. On the blade, I used a mixture of white gouache along with white gel pen for the small bright highlights.