Watercolor: A Gambler’s Medium

“Madeline Island Ferry” (watercolor, 11 x 15 in.)

“Asked to describe his approach to watercolors, John Singer Sargent once said, ‘Make the best of an emergency!’ Painting with watercolor definitely requires a dance between accuracy and a loose handling of the medium. The thrill involved comes across in the final painting, and it’s what makes the work so appealing,” says Dan Mondloch.

“Backyard Bliss” (watercolor, 11 x 15 in.)

“My dad is a watercolor painter so I grew up with the medium and will always have a soft spot for it, but I also paint outdoors in acrylic and oil. I keep white gouache on my watercolor palette as well, and when mixed with regular watercolor paints they essentially become gouache too. Each medium has its virtues and advantages in the field, and I use those unique characteristics to decide which one I will use in a given situation. With clear evidence that watercolor materials no longer pose concerns over longevity, collectors actually now buy more of my watercolor paintings at plein air events than my oils.

“Hudson Alley” (watercolor, 15 x 11 in.)

“To create atmospheric perspective in grand vistas, scenes with subtle color nuances, or lighting and weather conditions that are stable for 3- to 4-hour time periods, I tend to reach for oil paint. When it comes to backlit scenes or sunlit buildings with strong sweeping shadows, I prefer watercolor. I love the transparency of a shadow wash, and the the way I can unify the light effect and composition with energetic brushstrokes while still revealing the shape-making layers underneath. A good refined oil painting has its appeal, but most often I am swayed by a quick, spontaneous, gestural response to a given scene — something with a truth and a strong emotional component. Due to the nature of the medium, watercolors embody those qualities inherently.

Step 1
Step 2
Final Step: In “Laguna Sunrise” (watercolor, 11 x 19 in.), you can see evidence of the gestural history established in the earlier steps.

“Oil painting friends of mine often talk about their desire to try watercolor. There is an allure to the transparent veils of color, an intrigue to the beautiful layering of color accumulation, and an undeniable charm to its intrinsic need for simplicity. Plus, it has the added thrill of unpredictability; it’s a bit of a gambler’s medium.”

Dan Mondloch is a third generation painter of landscapes in watercolor, following in the footsteps of his parents and great grandfather. In his hometown of St. Cloud, he graduated from SCSU with a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in Painting and Drawing in 2007. He operates a studio in his home, where he balances his professional life between studio art, commission work, murals, and teaching.

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3 COMMENTS

  1. I love Dan Mondloch’s paintings.
    He makes you feel like you are experiencing the day exactly with him. The watercolor medium needs you to be spontaneous in the moment or you will kill it all flat out. Thanks for showing us all your work, it is beautiful.

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