Knowing When to Stop — or Not

“Time Travelers” (watermedia, 30 x 22 in.)

“As time has progressed, I have became more and more enamored with the physical act of watermedia painting, putting brush to paper, and less concerned with arriving at the final outcome,” says Carla O’Connor. “Looking at my sketchbook recently, I realized that the pieces with quick, thin washes looked unfinished but were very easy to enlarge and elaborate upon. The studies where I played, pushed, experimented, and layered turned out to be finished “paintings” rather than small visual notes. Watercolor artists are often told to learn when to stop, and the advice is usually sooner rather than later. However, my watermedia painting process challenges me to keep going, to not give up too easily or be satisfied with the first few marks. Truth be told, I really do not want the process to end.”

Sketch for “Tribe” (watermedia, 4 x 5 1/2 in.)
Sketch for “Walkin a Jazz Line” (watermedia, 4 x 5 1/2 in.)

 Carla O’Connor is a signature member of the American Watercolor Society, National Watercolor Society and Northwest Watercolor Society and is an AWS Dolphin Fellow.

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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.


  1. I’ve always loved ur work; composition, color, figures…abstract but not too!
    Looks like ur still combining wc and gouache. Nice!
    Trying anything new?


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