Give Up Control

“I’m not what you would call ‘talented,’ which implies that painting came effortlessly to me,” says Shelley Prior. “Au contraire! I have a passion for watercolor that has made me work hard to learn how to utilize the beauty of this medium (notice I didn’t say control?). The thing that I’ve always loved is its ability to glow and show luminous depth through its transparent layers. I love the way that the paint flows on the paper which is, of course, the most unique aspect of this medium. That element of surprise and often delight when colors melt together and soften seamlessly without any manipulation from my brush.

Watercolor painting by Shelley Prior

“Like marriage, it’s not without its challenges, however. You learn the characteristics, all the idiosyncrasies and give up some of that control, working with it rather than against it. It takes patience and understanding.

Release the Light From the Paper | Painting Glass

“One of my favorite subjects to paint with watercolor is glass, whether it’s crystal, colored, antique, or modern. Watercolor is the perfect medium to use to paint a transparent object. With glass subjects I can use vibrant color, sparkling whites, and rich darks, and arrange my objects in any manner that pleases my eye.

“Glass, especially colored glass, seems to come to life when it’s exposed to sunshine and the shadows are just as interesting and vibrant as the glass itself. Sometimes the shadows even become the center of interest.

“Creating the illusion of light is something I look for in all of my work. The light already exists on the paper. I work transparently with clean color to allow that brilliance to shine through my work and complement it with rich darks in shadows. With light, I can create the illusion of form.

“Not all types of glass are shiny, though. I have a collection of perfume bottles and other glass objects that range from crackled glass to iridescent, etched, molded with lettering, and those with swirling colors or bubbles. They present a puzzle of abstract shapes and values that I enjoy solving to create something more vibrant than the original.”

Connect with Shelley Prior:
Website | Instagram

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Kelly Kane
PleinAir Magazine and American Watercolor Weekly Editor-in-Chief With more than 20 years experience in art publishing, Kelly Kane has served previously as Editor-in-Chief of Watercolor Artist magazine and Content Director for The Artist’s Magazine, Drawing, Acrylic Artist, and Pastel Journal. She has interviewed many of the preeminent artists of our time and written numerous articles about painting, drawing, art education and art history. She is now the Editor-in-Chief of PleinAir Magazine and the American Watercolor Weekly newsletter. Click here to send her an email.



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