Miguel Linares Rios is a Spanish watercolor painter I discovered on Facebook this last fall. Here's a link to his professional Facebook page. There’s a kind of whimsy to his work that I find really attractive- his buildings are always a bit off kilter, there's a story to his courtyards and laundry, and I found his propensity for including cats and birds smile-inducing. And then, of course, there's the confident, juicy wet-into-wet work. Wow! I set about researching him, but there's actually not much about him out there- no videos or blog posts or magazine articles to find. His only website is his Facebook page, so if you want to see more of his work, you should Follow him there. I contacted him through it, and asked him a few questions.
What I could gather from my limited Spanish is that he wets and stretches his paper on a board with staples. They often seem to be about a 1/2 sheet in size. After it dries, he wets it all down again, and paints wet into wet in one go as it dries. Most sessions run 2-3 hours, and he prefers to do it all in one sitting. He said, however, that he dedicates a reasonable amount of time to preliminary sketches and composition. So, the goal is to have a complete vision in his mind, do his planning, and then the painting happens in one quick go. Some stuff is taken from real life, but what was pretty interesting is that other compositions are completely imaginary. Perhaps like this painting below...
So, how does he combine these hard and soft edges? He's moving into not using masking fluid, but in the past, when necessary, he would mask those objects that needed to keep a hard edge, and go in to those areas after everything was dry. You can also see that he's not afraid to use Chinese white- sometimes for dry brush work, and sometimes, I'm pretty sure, wet into wet. Other times, he recaptures his lights by scratching- either with the back of his brush or with a fingernail. Still, the basic method is to paint negatively and then build his edges after one section has dried, which you can see in action for many of the buildings he does.
Something of particular note is how little he uses hard cast shadows and bright paper-whites as a compositional tool. You can go back and look through the images, and although they're sometimes there, the shadows are generally painted wet into wet (and are either pale or soft edged), and the lights often have a pale wash over them. This creates a soft light source that conjures up a dreamy, shady mood- houses are bonded to their surroundings, shady courtyard laundry feels like a part of the building behind it, boats don't just float on the water's surface, but rather feel a bit like part of it. Man-made and natural objects are treated the same in terms of technique. Instead of bold, dark cast shadows and shining whites modeling the forms and "capturing the light", you view gently abstracted blocks of muted light and dark. The composition and arrangement of forms, and the placement of hard versus dark edges, becomes the more important element.
What's neat is if you look at the first painting, way back at the top of post, you can see a lot of Miguel's techniques, wrapped up in a single image. Pretty neat stuff!